“You are an S-I personality style. Your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you take things in primarily via intuition. Your secondary mode is external, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit with your personal value system. You are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive. You probably like having things orderly and systematic in your outer world. No doubt you put a lot of energy into identifying the best system for getting things done, and constantly define and re-define priorities. Will that work in a life or death scenario?”
One afternoon in a fit of strange reverie, I imagined Rick Grimes (Walking Dead) pounding on my door. He was not feverishly escaping from flesh-eating Zombies. He was however desperate for some executive coaching.
“I need help Doc,” he began. “Carl is bucking authority and believes he knows everything. Daryl’s moody stares gives new group members the wrong message , and Michonne is mistrustful of just about everyone. We are having a lot of internal conflict and since I’m the leader, I guess it’s up to me to get it fixed. We are stronger when we pull together and work toward a common goal. In this day and age if you ignore the team and act individually you don’t survive very long.
“Well Rick,” I began. “You’ve come to the right place. Let me ask you this…..what kind of person do you want to be at the end of our engagement?
He paused as though he had never thought about it before. “I’m not sure what you mean,” he answered. “I just want people to get along and do their work. It’s life and death if we don’t work as a team.”
“Would they say you facilitate this type of teamwork?” I asked.
“I’m not sure.”
“Have you ever asked them? Let me share my approach with you Rick. I want to help you gain the one piece of data that is vital for the success of any leader.”
“What’s that,” he asked while fingering his Colt Python.
“Self-awareness and a clear understanding of the impact you are having on the people around you.”
The look on his face told me that he was pretty sure I had either lost my mind or that I was “turning.”
“No need to un-holster that revolver Rick. Let me explain. Many occupations – yours is no exception – require the use of instruments and tools. A Samurai sword, a crossbow, the aforementioned Colt, a sharp stick can, if properly used, hold a herd of Walkers at bay. Any professional’s success comes from an ability to use tools skillfully. The tool itself needs to function consistently and well. Back in the day— before this nasty plague—engineers who used calculators with flawed programming were in danger of making life-threatening mistakes in bridge designs. Pilots whose instruments showed incorrect speed and altitude were the cause of catastrophic accidents.”
What’s your point Doc?”
“What is the leader’s instrument? It is his/her own persona that interacts with the people inside and outside the organization. Unlike surgeons, pilots, engineers, dentists, or other professionals who used tools as an important adjunct to do their work, leaders rely solely on themselves as the tool of their trade. Trust me my friend. I frequently interact with leaders who don’t understand the reactions of those around them. They can’t comprehend the lack of commitment on the part of their employees. They don’t understand the impact they are having on subordinates. They don’t understand why colleagues don’t initiate contact with them, or willingly collaborate on a project. These are scenarios where personality style testing is necessary.”
“By the way Rick, you are an S-I personality style. Your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you take things in primarily via intuition. Your secondary mode is external, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit with your personal value system. You are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive. You probably like having things orderly and systematic in your outer world. No doubt you put a lot of energy into identifying the best system for getting things done, and constantly define and re-define priorities. As such, you have many leadership strengths. You are able to see other’s talents and you possess a real depth of caring. You are concerned for people’s feelings, and try to be gentle to avoid hurting anyone. You are very sensitive to conflict, and cannot tolerate it very well. You may even tend to internalize conflict into your body, and experience health problems when under a lot of stress. I think the second season illustrated that.”
“A downside to this is because you have such strong intuitive capabilities, you trust your own instincts above all else. At times you may view your intuitive ability as indisputable fact and expect others to see things that same way you do. This can cause conflict and can cause your team to see you as stubborn. They may tell you that you ignore their opinions. If they experience you as too stubborn they may stop interacting with you in something of a flying-under-the-radar-approach. This can have detrimental effects on the team and on your survival. Have you heard this before?”
“Yes, unfortunately I have. And I see what you mean. But what can I do?”
“You have to listen to your team Rick. Many times you clearly have the best answer. You’ve gotten everyone out of many scrapes, but you cannot forget to gather data and information from your team. Whenever they have something to say, you must remember to listen. They probably take in the environment very differently than you do and that is, in and of itself, invaluable for success. A team that shares differing points of view is usually more creative in problem solving.”
“Doc, your feedback has been invaluable. May I come back in two weeks? I would like to understand the style of the rest of my team and how I can best manage them.”
“I’m here if you are Rick,” I said.