Brenton Bai is a founding partner of 3e Leader. He has been communicating to large audiences throughout Australasia since the age of 20, building a reputation as a dynamic speaker. Earlier in his career, Mr Bai worked in the retail industry, where he became the top salesman in a company of 120 salespeople. From there, he moved to senior management role with Telecom for five years, before following his passion for personal development into a full-time career as a corporate training facilitator.
Aiden Holliday is a founding partner of 3e Leader. He has a passion for leadership, strategic management and mentoring/coaching skills. Mr Holliday has written and delivered a national qualification in strategic leadership, regularly consults and facilitates on corporate strategy with a number of organisations, and is an experienced performance coach and strategy facilitator. He holds an MBA and a Master of Philosophy in leadership.
Harnessing the human potential in an organisation is what makes it great. The problem leaders face is that people often communicate without really connecting, so even though there may appear to be a lot of communication happening, in reality there is not.
The reason is that people do not understand how to communicate in a way that gets the best out of their colleagues. Really connecting with people, rather than merely delivering words, is particularly important for leaders. Whatever the industry, leaders are engaged in a ‘people’ business and, if they don’t know how to work well with staff, productivity will suffer.
The key to effective communication
The key to delivering any message effectively and persuasively is to understand people’s perceptual filters, beliefs and values. To communicate successfully, leaders need to meet people in their model of the world and learn their ‘life language’, which is encapsulated in their personality.
Adjusting to these different models of the world so the team feels affinity and motivation to reach organisational objectives is the responsibility of the leader. Leaders cannot think that they can deliver communication their own way and expect others to adjust unless they are prepared for results to suffer.
A big part of this is achieving self-awareness. Leaders need to understand what their own model of the world is and how that impacts others. Being able to do this represents a significant step in the leadership journey. Many people fail to develop this self-awareness, instead focusing on who they are talking to and how they are coming across.
An organisational personality map is a tool for organisations to create a visual representation of the structure of their personalities. The map shows where staff sit with respect to the four main personality types, thereby offering insight into how leaders need to communicate.
The four personality types
The four main personality types are:
- Doer – Doers are active, assertive and direct. They are goal-oriented ‘action’ people who value achievement.
- Talker – Talkers are enthusiastic, gregarious, impulsive and reactive. They are people-oriented, energetic and inspiring. They are strongly motivated by the need to feel valued.
- Thinker – Thinkers are logical, precise, reserved and sensitive. They tend to be numbers-oriented and accurate, and aim for perfection.
- Upholders – Upholders are controlled, disciplined, low-key and friendly. They are steady and team-oriented, and they value harmony.
Leaders can use clues in linguistic and body language to identify the personality types of the people they communicate with. For example, talkers tend to be very expressive and use lots of adjectives, whereas thinkers will be very fact-based.
Each personality type has different strengths and weaknesses. For example, doers are excellent initiators, and are independent, disciplined and organised. However, they can also be autocratic, insensitive, impatient and poor listeners.
People who are operating in their habitual comfort zone usually display positive traits. However, when people are pushed out of this zone, negative behaviours can start to emerge as a response to stress and a perceived need for self-preservation. While spending time on the edges of the comfort zone can help people to grow, those who are under stress too often or for too long may start to manifest the ‘dirty dozen’.
The dirty dozen
The dirty dozen are difficult behaviours characteristic of each personality type when under stress. Each personality type typically displays three of the dirty dozen behaviours. For example, upholders under stress may become extremely indecisive – the ‘Maybe Person’; overly compliant to the point that they will agree to anything to gain approval, even when they are unable to deliver – the ‘Yes Person’; or become extremely passive and withdrawn – the ‘Cold Shoulder’.
Dealing with these requires decoding what is actually going on behind the behaviour. For example, a Maybe Person’s indecision may reflect a desire to preserve harmony and avoid violating one of their values.
Meet, Model, Move is an approach to working with personalities. This approach, encapsulated as AIR (Acknowledge, Intent, Refocus) in a practical context, asks people to acknowledge others’ emotions in a non-critical way, find common ground, understand their intent based on their model of the world, and then move forward together by reframing or refocusing on action.