People – More than a Personality

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, describes the importance of ensuring the right people are in the right positions in an organisation in order for the right culture to develop and business to thrive (he refers to this as getting the right people on the bus). Whilst some of the companies Collins cites in this book as great companies (at the time of publication) have since gone out of business, many of the principles are still sound, including the concept of aligning people with roles within an organisation.

But, its one thing to have a concept of people in roles, and another to know which people for which role, and why. And this brings me to this idea of personality. Or more specifically, using personality tools (or other diagnostics) to gain a sense of the drivers and traits of an individual. Many businesses use personality tests to determine a fit for a role, and relying primarily on these tests (many of which are not as reliable as people might think), can create challenges for both the people in the roles and the business hiring them (See Cornell Review for further explanation).

I have heard expressed by leaders I have followed that when people come to work, they bring their whole self to work, not just their Work Self. What this means is that all the stresses, joys, pressures, wonderings, concerns, and distractions that someone has in their life, these come with them into the workplace each and every day. And, these change over time. These benign or profound influences can have such an impact on someone’s focus, ability, enjoyment and energy, over and above what any diagnostic may describe as that person’s personality trait or disposition.

For example, I love to travel. I have grown to love it more and more over the years, as it opens up a world of culture, wonder, and learning. I find holidays open up a creative space for me to think about my work and life more broadly, and to assess values and drivers. Whilst a personality profile may provide some insight into how I like to work and who I like to work with (at a point in time, as personalities do change), it wont help someone understand those deeper value drivers and passions that colour my view of the world.

So, when you are forming a team, leading a team or just trying to figure out how to best interact with others, take the valuable and worthwhile time to understand the other person(s). You may all collectively complete a profile of some sort, which in the least provides a common base for conversation and discussion (helpful for new teams). However, authentic listening and engagement will deepen connections and understandings of each other, which then leads to more effective alignment of people to role. This effective alignment then allows for the individual’s purpose to be expressed within their work, helping to create a more empowered culture.

Further reading:
How to Live with Purpose, Identify your values and improve your leadership - https://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-loehr/how-to-live-with-purpose-_b_5187572.html

Here’s an article you can share with your team and/or use the steps to help you collectively identify individual and shared values:
https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_85.htm

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