Put quite simply, yes, personality matters in leadership. But it also matters in “employee-dom” or “friend land”. Okay, enough with the made up kingdoms. Personality and preferences of behavior matter when there’s stress, times of change, directions being given, communication being sent or received, and in teamwork. If you are leader, those might just make up your day in its entirety, yet sometimes we scoff at the importance of personality and understanding what the other person is doing and why they are doing it. Here are a few reasons why it just might matter most:
When you send a message and when you receive a message both are influenced by how you see the world and the filters you use. Are you a Commander preference who needs to get things done? You’ll see each topic as a contributor or inhibitor to your productivity. Are you an Entertainer preference who sees… “squirrel?” and then comes back to the point when others have forgotten the point? You get the idea.
When we’re stressed, we do what is most natural to us and if that means we are quiet, reserved, and think before we speak, then that will become more pronounced if stress tops the charts. No longer can we “fake it til we make it” in those times. Our reserves dissipate and we become whatever is authentic, though usually in its negative form. Thus, knowing what is natural for you and giving yourself permission to be that all the time will prevent confusion on part of employees and team members when things get tough. Be you and know that it is easier to do that, than play someone else until things get rough.
An Organizer preference shares direction with a Relater preference. That Relater works to complete the project and on time and turns it in to the Organizer, feeling as if he has followed every direction to the T. The Organizer, gifted in finding things that are not correct, points out two minor flaws and asks for corrections to be made and sends the Relater on his way. That Relater will likely feel unappreciated and undervalued and will be less enthusiastic about completing a project in the future. Preferences matter. There was likely no real misunderstanding, just a lack of awareness.
If in your office, you find there is back biting, people taking things personally, or issues that seem to be of a communicative nature, remember that this behavior is contagious. When people feel a misunderstanding, they are likely to keep looking for such instances, as this is where their focus is pointed. This exacerbates the problem and demoralizes the team. What can you do to raise the awareness of personality preferences in your office? What can you do as a leader to facilitate more effective ways to work with personalities in your office and on that team you lead?