03.10.17 / Posted by jirehconsult

I live by a creed.

We meet people on a daily basis. Some, you click instantly and build an excellent rapport with; others, you just can’t seem to tolerate. Individual personalities influence our biases and the people or cliques we gravitate towards, the people we admire and aspire to be like, the ones who we wish to avoid becoming; those we put on pedestals and those who we condemn to the depths of Hell.

In general, individual personality traits tend to determine our strengths and weaknesses. Personalities remain relatively stable over time. There are many tests that one can take to determine their personality traits, with probably the most well known being the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

For the sake of simplicity, I refer to the ‘five factor model’ which modern-day psychologists agree upon that there are five types of people in the world: Conscientious, Extroverts, Agreeable, Open, and Neurotic.

Conscientious people are efficient, well-organised, dependable, and self-sufficient. They prefer planning ahead and aim for high achievement. People ranking lower in conscientiousness may view those with this personality trait as stubborn and obsessive.

Extroverts are energised from social activity. They’re talkative, outgoing, and comfortable in the spotlight. Others may view them as domineering and attention-seeking.

Those with high agreeableness are trustworthy, kind, and affectionate toward others. They’re known to be proponents of volunteerism and altruistic activities. Other people may view them as naïve and overly passive.

People who rate high in openness are known to have a broad range of interests and vivid imaginations. Ever curious and creative, they usually prefer variety over rigid routines. They seek self-actualisation through intense, euphoric experiences like meditative retreats or living abroad. Others may view them as unpredictable and unfocused.

Neurotic people experience a high degree of emotional instability. They’re more likely to be reactive and excitable and they report higher degrees of unpleasant emotions like anxiety and irritability. Other people may view them as unstable and insecure.

Now, these personality traits may manifest themselves in one’s inherent leadership styles. In the book “Primal Leadership,” Daniel Goleman describes six leadership styles which serve as a general guide to utilising and adapting them to suit the people and the organisation one leads. Each style has its own pros and cons. The six are: Visionary, Coaching, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting, and Commanding.

Visionaries articulate where a group is going, but not how it will get there. They allow people to innovate, experiment, and take calculated risks.

Coaches focus on developing individuals, showing them how to improve their performance, and helping to connect their goals to the goals of the organisation. Subordinates may view coaches as micromanagers which could undermine his or her self-confidence.

Affiliative leaders emphasise the importance of team work, and create harmony by connecting people to each other. Their focus on group praise may allow poor performance to go uncorrected.

Democratic leaders draw on people’s knowledge and skills, tapping into the collective wisdom of the group and creating a group commitment to the resulting goals. This approach can be disastrous during crises when urgent events demand quick decisions.

Pacesetters set high standards for performance. They obsess about doing things better and faster, more efficient and with high attention to detail. This style may undercut morale and make people feel as if they are failing.

Lastly, there are commanders. This style is probably the most often used, but the least often effective. As commanders rarely praise and frequently employ criticism, it undercuts morale and job satisfaction. Many argue it is only effective in a crisis, when urgent turnarounds are required.

Where am I heading to with this whole spiel in Psychology 101? As I laid down in the opener, we meet many different kinds of people in our lives and not all of them would be on the same frequencies and wavelengths as us.

In our personal lives, it is easier to avoid people we do not click with simply by disassociating ourselves from them. Professionally however, the task becomes nigh on impossible as you either have to tolerate them or resign.

What makes it extra tricky is when you work in an agency and handle clients with internal politics or who expect their agencies to pull rabbits out of the hat every time they come a-calling. In these instances, you just have to put your nose to the grind, buckle down, and focus on completing the project to the best of your abilities.

Thus, I live by a creed: I don’t have to like you personally, I just have to be able to work with you professionally.

October 2017