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Discover Yourself – Managing the Color Energies

Understanding the different personality types of a team is important for managers not only so that they can build an effective team, but also so that they can gain insights into how to manage each person. Today I’ll be discussing tips and techniques for managing each of the color energies in the Insights Discovery system.

Managing Cool Blues

People who are cool blue in temperament are thoughtful and like to plan out events and activities in advance. Typically, they will be organized and know their processes very well, following instructions exactly. But one challenge in managing them is they are not the most adaptable of people; they need to be given time to consider and process new information and ideas. If a new concept or model is introduced to a cool blue, they may not be particularly enthusiastic about the change straight away. This does not mean that they are rejecting the change or that they will be unable to cope with it, but they may require a few days to adapt to the new mindset required of them.

One practical tip on managing cool blues is to give them a heads up (wherever possible) of new issues that may arise in the future. A manager who can let their cool blue team members know in advance that changes will be forthcoming – for example, that this year an annual process will be changing, or that brainstorming sessions will be moving from regular small meetings to occasional large meetings – will find that the cool blue person has planned and anticipated the change and is more ready for it. This gives two advantages: firstly, the blue person will be able to contribute useful ideas as they have had time to consider and aren’t being forced to respond off the cuff, and secondly, they will be more positive about adapting to change when they know to expect it.

Managing Earth Greens

Earth green people are driven by their values, which often focus around sharing, harmony, and fairness. This means that in order for a manager to win the loyalty of an earth green person, they must explicitly demonstrate their even-handedness and explain their reasoning. For example, if a manger is planning to end a contract with a vendor and to move to another vendor, it would be wise to let the earth green members of their team know about why they are making this change. Even when it is not strictly required for the green person to know about the reasoning to perform their job, they will be more supportive and enthusiastic if they see that their manager has good reasons for making this choice.

This is because earth green people care deeply about personal relationships with co-workers. If the green person perceives their organization as being capricious or opaque about their motives, they will not trust them and will not perform well. And this interest is not self-centered: a green can perceive a colleague being treated badly by a manager to be as damaging as if it were happening to them. To build the best relationship with an earth green, a manager should be as fair as possible and be transparent about that fairness.

Managing Sunshine Yellows

The highly sociable sunshine yellow type is passionate, enthusiastic, and has a strong vision of the future. If a manager wants to sell their team on a new concept or process, then getting the sunshine yellow members of the team on board is key. These people will then cheerlead for the idea and get everyone else in the team to accept and embrace the new concept too. If a person who can drum up energy and get everyone involved is required, then the sunshine yellow is the type to turn to.

However, sunshine yellow types can be distractible and disorganized. When managing such a person, it is important to clearly lay out the essential requirements of a task and not let the person focus only on the “fun” parts of a job. Also, sunshine yellows can have a tendency to overwhelm other less outgoing team members, especially if there are a high proportion of yellows on a team and their visions are closely aligned. In this case, encourage sunshine yellows to pull back sometimes to allow space for others to express their ideas.

Managing Fiery Reds

Fiery reds are active and hands-on, and they like to find the most efficient way of performing their tasks. This means that they can be very adaptable and amenable to change, as long as their manager can demonstrate to them how the new system will create a better outcome than the old system. Unlike cool blues, fiery reds are not interested in considering every small change in depth – they would rather learn by doing and are focused on the present moment rather than ruminating about the past or future. If a fiery red needs to learn a new skill, it is best to hand them the tools and let them puzzle through the challenge for themselves rather than trying to teach them everything in advance.

One useful but occasionally frustrating aspect of managing a fiery red is their pragmatism. They are not the type to be swept up by great oratory or to embrace an idea because it sounds new and exciting. Instead, they want to see a clear and realistic vision with concrete steps outlined that will achieve that vision. When trying to motivate a fiery red, do not focus on abstract concepts or too much big picture talk – instead, give them grounded, actionable steps which they can follow to achieve the desired goal.

This is just scratching the surface of the ways that psychometric testing can help managers interact with and motivate their team. For more information on this topic, visit www.discoveryourself.com.

Discover Yourself – Adapting to the Style of Others

One of the advantages of knowing one’s own personality type and being aware of the other personality types that might be encountered is evident in a business setting. Those in management positions have the most authority to force others to adapt to their own style – but to get the best from their workers, it actually benefits managers to adapt to others to some extent. For a productive team and a harmonious environment, it is a good idea for leaders to learn techniques to accommodate the preferences and personality types of those around them.

Today I’ll be sharing some practical tips on how managers can adapt to the style of others.

Communication Method

One big differentiator between various personality types in a work setting is their preferred method of communication. Introverted people often prefer to communicate through email, as it allows them time and space to process information and formulate a cogent response in their own time. Extroverted people, especially those who like to think out loud in a collaborative way, will often prefer to stop by someone else’s office in order to discuss an issue and get input on it. People who are highly skilled at multitasking may prefer talking on the phone so that they can accomplish some other small tasks while discussing a topic.

Of course, business necessities will always trump personal preferences. If a manager needs an answer immediately, then they are going to drop by others’ offices or call them to save time. If employees work remotely, then email will be the default. However, outside of these necessities, it is advisable for managers to be flexible. If they know that a given employee will give their best response to a query via email, then it makes sense to allow them to use that communication method where possible.

Communication Style

Another related issue is the complexities of communication style. This is an issue in which many people lack self-awareness, which is why it is important for managers to be proactive in addressing this topic. Some people, particularly those who are strongly focused on tasks, will want to know only the essential information that they require in order to complete their job. Giving these people more detail when communicating will only confuse or frustrate them. Other people, particularly those who are focused on relationships, will want to understand the part that their role plays in the bigger picture. Therefore, they will appreciate being furnished with all of the details of a situation even if it doesn’t directly affect them.

Managers who take note of the personality types of their employees can communicate with them more clearly by giving the appropriate level of detail for that personality type. A manager might choose to give a few key bullet points versus explaining an issue in depth, for example, depending on the preferences of the people they are addressing. When a manager needs to address a number of people, such as when emailing a group, then for maximum clarity they can include both: have bullet points with the essential information at the top, and then a section with additional information at the bottom. This way, the readers of the email can pick the appropriate level of communication for themselves.

Meetings

A challenge of the modern office is the dreaded meeting. Meetings are essential for conducting many aspects of business successfully, but they can be draining and are rarely enjoyed by all of the participants. When looked at in terms of personality type, this dislike of meetings is unsurprising. With multiple different personality types in one room trying to make progress all together, it is almost inevitable that there will be difficulties.

Managers have the chance to set the expectations and tone for meetings, and to moderate to make them more productive and helpful for everyone involved. The first step to a more productive meeting is to set goals clearly: is the purpose of the meeting to brainstorm, to plan, or to troubleshoot? Knowing the goal will help keep participants on track and allow different personality types to approach the topic in their own way. Also, is a meeting actually required? If the purpose of the meeting is purely to update others, for example, then this is best accomplished by sending out an email instead of gathering everyone together.

The second step is to send out an agenda for the meeting in advance. This will allow introverts to plan what they want to say, rather than forcing them to make off-the-cuff comments. The third step can be accomplished as a part of the agenda or as an in-person introduction, and that is to have a clear structure for the meeting. For example, first go around in a circle to share ideas or opinions without interruptions, and then have a free-for-all discussion session. This structure will help the more rigid team members know when to give input, and the more go-with-the-flow team members can thrive in the free discussion session.

Presenting, Teaching, and Workshopping

When it comes to presenting to a group, being aware of other personality styles can be a challenge. There are distinctly different learning styles as well as personality styles to consider, but a presenter will not always have a lot of information about a group’s styles before talking to them. Learning styles can include a preference for auditory material, written material, group discussion, or active engagement for best learning.

However, this needn’t be an insurmountable problem. Presenters already tend to use different teaching modalities – i.e. they talk to the group which is ideal for auditory learners, and they use slides which are good for visual learners. To make a presentation more accessible for other learning styles, presenters can set aside some time for group work and for practical hands-on work as well. These two new modalities will help those who learn best by talking an issue through with others or who learn by doing. Combining this approach to presenting and teaching with a personality-based approach for communication and meetings can enable managers to get the most from their employees.

To learn more about personality styles and how knowledge about them can benefit managers, visit www.discoveryourself.com.

Discover Yourself – Self-aware leadership

Thinking of the most important skills for a leader to have, most people will suggest qualities such as vision, charisma, determination, or discipline. But there’s one quality which rarely gets acknowledged in discussions about leadership but that is absolutely crucial, and that is self-awareness.

The concept of self-awareness covers two related aspects of personality: internal self-awareness, meaning how accurately a person perceives their own values, strengths, passions, and so on, and external self-awareness, meaning the degree to which a person knows how they are perceived by others around them. Both of these aspects are essential for effective leadership.

The importance of self-awareness in business

A recent article in the MIT Sloan Management Review was written on the basis of interviews with more than 2000 international executives, and it found that self-awareness was crucial for leadership. In fact, the authors Ginka Toegel and Jean-Louis Barsoux argued that self-awareness is the single most important capability for a leader to develop. This is because to be successful, a leader needs to know about their own limitations and idiosyncrasies in order to allow for these factors when making decisions.

Self-aware leadership isn’t just important as an executive skill – it can affect a company’s bottom line too. A study by the Korn Ferry Institute found that in companies with employees who scored well on measures of self-awareness, there were significantly higher rates of return of stock when compared to companies with employees that had more blind spots about their own performance. Another study found that a high score in self-awareness was the strongest predictor of overall success. So self-awareness is more than just a useful add-on skill: it is an essential part of getting results in business.

Blind spots

The same Korn Ferry Institute study mentioned previously also found that 79% of the participants had at least one blind spot in their self-awareness – meaning that 79% of people had a skill that they considered to be a strength but that their co-workers considered to be a weakness of theirs. This shows just how hard it is to be truly self-aware at work.

As we’ve discussed before, people are generally pretty poor at assessing their own performance. The problem is that in order for a person to know if they are a skilled performer in, say, communication, they have to know a lot about the topic already and know enough about what makes a person a good communicator. If someone lacks this knowledge, they are likely to overvalue their own performance because they don’t know what they don’t know.

When trying to cultivate self-aware leadership, it is not enough for a leader to think about their own perceptions of their strengths and weaknesses. They need to gather feedback from co-workers too.

Perception is reality

These difficulties with self-assessment are why receiving feedback is so key for self-aware leadership. Often, feedback from co-workers can differ markedly from how managers perceive themselves. For example, managers want to be seen as open to new ideas and attentive to their employees, so they will often rate themselves highly in these skill areas. But employees might disagree – they might find that the manager is dismissive of issues they raise, or is overly rigid in their approach.

The important thing for leaders to realize is that when it comes to skills assessment, perception is reality. If underlings feel that their manager does not take them seriously, then this is the reality – no matter what the manager thinks about their own skills. Real world examples show how even a leader who believes that they are doing everything right, and who is getting good results for the company, can be perceived as a problem by co-workers.

Achieving self-awareness

Given how crucial self-awareness is for leadership, it is notable that it is rare for the topic to be covered in MBA courses or other forms of business education. Leaders can’t rely on their existing knowledge to achieve self-awareness – it requires active and ongoing examination and practice. Some of the ways that leaders can improve their self-awareness include gaining information by soliciting and listening to feedback, taking leadership coaching, and by taking personality assessments. To get the most from these information sources, leaders need to train themselves and promote the concept of effective listening: not just nodding along while others talk but actively engaging with them to understand their perspective. The more a leader listens, the more informed they will be about how they are perceived and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Other changes can help to encourage a self-aware leadership style too, such as adopting daily mindfulness practice to improve awareness of one’s own state and emotional responses, and taking regular breaks so that decisions are contemplated carefully instead of being made on autopilot.

The makings of a good leader

It’s worth remembering that self-awareness is a key skill for a leader, but that doesn’t mean that there is only one way to lead effectively. For example, a leader might be conflict averse and struggle with giving negative feedback – but as long as they are aware of this, they can get support from other members of their leadership team when they need to have a tough conversation. Conversely, if a leader has a very direct communication style and has a tendency to come across as harsh, then they can call on more diplomatic communicators from their team to help them make a good impression in meetings. In either case, the leader has some strengths and some weaknesses, but by being aware of these and surrounding themselves with people with complementary skill sets, a more effective team can be formed.

To learn more about how personality assessments can help to develop self-awareness, visit www.discoveryourself.com, and check back to our blog soon for more articles like this one.

Leading the Four Color Personalities

leader

Being the boss is the best. The boss is the top of the pile, the head honcho, the person to whom everyone else looks for guidance and insight. The boss knows the inner workings of the business, knows how to steer the company through thick and thin, and manages projects and people with grace.

Of course, being the boss is a difficult job, and sometimes bosses turn out to be just as flawed and human as anyone else. The leaders of a company, leaders of an individual division, and leaders of teams within a company all have their strengths and weaknesses, both personally and when dealing with their co-workers. Taking into consideration the personalities of all people involved can help create better leadership styles as well as working relationships with others.

Leading by example

Successful leaders lead others in a way that inspires. These leaders don’t yell, cajole or threaten to get a job done. They know that respect will get them a lot further than emotional manipulation will. Unfortunately, the stressors of being a leader or being a boss very much exist. We don’t always operate the way we would like to under pressure, and bosses can take out their frustration on those working for them.

Acknowledging the personality and leadership strengths and weaknesses of bosses and leaders within a company can help pave the way for respect and success in business. Not everyone will always get along, but leaders are the most visible when it comes to adapting and communicating with people around them.

Learning and leadership

People don’t and shouldn’t stop learning just because they’ve advanced professionally. When it comes to being a leader, there is still a lot left to be learned just about yourself and how you function when in charge of managing many projects and people well. Leadership can be a struggle because you have to take into consideration the personalities of the people who are working for you, as well as your knowledge of your personality. How you interact with your employees can bring insight into how you may be adapting and communicating at work in ways that can be beneficial or harmful.

The best kind of professional leader isn’t one who necessarily has all the answers, but is one who commits to their job and their team. Part of this commitment is understanding the important role personality plays in the workplace.

Jung opened up an entirely new world with his discoveries, and discoveries into the psychology of personality and the self are still being made today. Insights Discovery is based squarely on Jung’s theories, and as such is an invaluable tool in helping people understand themselves and others. Schedule me, Scott Schwefel, as your keynote speaker, and I will come to your group and address the differences in personalities in a truthful, fun, and easy-to-understand way. Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to share my blogs with the color energies you work with!