Personality Type: The Foundation of Leadership and Management
by Kenneth L. Meyer
Lead People and Manage Things
The above heading is actually the title of a book written by my father on the art of leading people. Dad was a General Manager and sales trainer for the New York Life Insurance Co. Dad was one of their national leaders with a wonderfully profitable career.
I remember him quoting the above along the lines of no Kenny you cant really manage anybody, you lead them! So when he published a book of the same title I was not surprised and actually used it as a text for a class on Industrial Sales I used to teach at Eastern Michigan University in the 90s.
The line between leading people vs. managing them makes more sense and is clearer with the reference to things thrown in. You cant lead an inanimate object but you can manage them nicely; by the same token, you really cant manage a living breathing person but you can lead them by appealing to their humanity in ways they will naturally and many time instinctively respond to. We use all kinds of techniques to lead some techniques with a basis in fear and some with a basis in the more positive aspects of desire and sincerely wanting to get something done.
What we call personality type controls how individuals will respond to leading or managing. Each of us has a psychological function that controls, filters, informs and really directs how we take in information and then respond to that information.
There are many other aspects to how personality affects leadership and management but for this article let us view the above functions.how do we take in information and how do we reason and act upon what we take in. By looking at leadership related to personality in this way we will discover that one function that controls how we literally speak to everyone! That is important because if you are talking to me and I do not understand what you are saying how can I respond in a way that indicates you were leading or managing me, for that matter, to a profitable result?? Well I cant and neither can you.at least not without needless mistakes, stress, problems, misfortunes, hard feelings and missed opportunities galore!!
What Are We Taught?
We are taught what managers do, how they are to do it, the why of it and the when of it and the where of it. Fine as far as it goes; but, this does not impact leadership that much.
Each individuals personality type will not respond to any of the above in a positive, profitable way, unless their instinctive nature, their personality type is being spoken to.
Managers/leaders will behave in certain ways, talk and communicate with others, build teams, create plans, administer company visions in certain ways that transcend how they were taught to do the above.
By understanding your in-born nature and the differences that may exist between you and the ones you are trying to lead/manage you can use those differences to positively motivate. How is this done?
Speak to others the way they want to be spoken to for one way. Another way would be to put workers, whenever possible, in work environments more representative of their core personality functions. Referencing the Myers-Briggs Personality approach, one would put the sensor in the sensing work environment, the intuitive in the intuitive environment, and the thinker in the thinking environment and the feeler in the feeling environment.
The end result of todays efforts at leading/managing others is that 70% of all workers are working in areas of weakness on the job. So something is not working, what we as leaders/managers were taught in school are not working as well as it could. I believe we need to become readers of those we work with and for; identifying personality similarities and differences and then valuing, nurturing, validating what we find instead of forcing those managed/let to conform to our way of doing things.
This knowledge is not difficult, there is hope, and there is encouragement. Rely upon and institute the Myers-Briggs routinely within your organization. Study the differences that exist, try to match work related tasks, natural problem solving tendencies, natural conflict management skills to the various personality types represented and you will find leadership gets more productive; the entire work environment can become much more positive; and low and behold workers actually will desire to be on the job because they like it rather than working because they have to.