There are lots of tools available for assessing personality style, and each has its nuance. Stripping away the nuance, with few exceptions, the assessments produce a matrix of 4 primary personality styles.

These styles result from an understanding of extroversion vs. introversion, the relationship of each to detail orientation; and then adding to this, a person’s proclivity to focus on an outcome or to seek harmony.

In my experience, no matter what your leadership role, knowing and understanding your own style and that of each person you work with is the key to achieving the results you want.

I had a conversation recently with a friend that drove this home for me once again.  My friend is an advisor to the CEO of a large company. This company is in the midst of a reorganization, and my friend is struggling with one of the leaders of the new organization.  As we talked through the situation, it became clear to both of us that the root cause of her challenge is style.  She is outcome focused; he is harmony-focused; she is an introvert (goes within to process); he is an extrovert (processes out loud).

The result: he is talking, too much from her perspective; she is trying to move the project moving forward, he has unresolved fears and is resisting.

Once she began to realize it is their style differences that are causing her challenge, she had the answer, I could see it in her face. We then moved into a more extended discussion about the characteristics of each of the primary styles and then a plan of action.

Bottom line. For me, when I am struggling to communicate, and I pause long enough to get some perspective, I’ve come to realize the answer is always, I need to modify my style to adapt to the other person’s style. Easier said than done I know, and like everything else, its a journey.

Elisa K Spain

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