Objectivity is the token banner held high for business pursuits; and to an extent, rightly so. Objectivity in analyzing pros and cons is an indispensable attribute for any accomplished executive or manager. Working with people (and working with them well) is inherent toward keeping things running both smoothly and productively. Yet, it is the precise juncture between the objective and the subjective where the clash can so often occur.
Objectively, you know what you need to make happen; although it’s the subjective knowledge that is necessary to actually bring a team to a functional and cohesive pinnacle.
People are as varied as fish in the ocean, and it has been the subject and study of countless efforts throughout history to categorize and find definitions for each personality; usually in an effort to reduce and simplify. The vast majority of these are, naturally, whimsical at best. Many people have, in recent times, burnt countless idle moments via online typology tests which, for lack of better examples, will indicate what kind of coffee bean one most resembles or which classic actor best represents your “personality”.
In reality, there are many pre-established metrics and structures for placing people into categories. Yet, among the deluge, few have truly replicable and reliable merits (we’re not discussing astrology here).
One of the more frequently accepted formulas originated in the 1950s by cardiologists, Meryr Friedman and RH Rosenman, in attempts to ascertain the possible causes of coronary disease. Health concerns aside, the Type A and Type B Personality Theory is useful in that it doesn’t toil about trying to delineate and refine too many details. It sticks to the broad strokes; the most easily recognizable and utilized.
While many companies categorize employees within these terms, this is not to say that each quality is exclusive to one personality “type”. Nevertheless, certain inclinations may often intuitively impose these roles within a professional setting.
Description: Type A personalities tend to be characterized by determination and unbridled ambition. These are the most prolific and social employees and leaders. Engagement and high activity are their preferred state of operations and they are capable of getting things done with alacrity and zeal.
Tips for Managers: David Ingram; small-business owner and contributing author for multiple publications, including “The Houston Chronicle” and online at Chron and Business.com; suggests managers offer Type A workers “opportunities to work toward performance incentives [by placing] them in leadership positions, for which they are naturally suited. Since Type A’s are more easily inclined to take initiative and voice their opinions, using a “hands-off approach” with these employees and allowing them to “self-motivate” is typically a manager’s best course of action. This method will allow Type A employees to more easily achieve the objectives and recognition they genuinely seek.
Description: Type B personalities may not possess the urgency of the Type A employee, however, here you will find many of the thinkers and conceivers. It is through the concerted (albeit slightly more relaxed) efforts of the Type B employee that the implemented plans and strategies of the Type A’s are formulated and refined. Simply stated, while Type A’s may strive for leadership and action, Type B’s are the innovators and the creators behind the scenes.
Tips for Managers: Ingram stresses the importance of managers working directly with Type B employees. However, this does not necessarily mean in a supervisory sense, but rather to maximize motivation and drive through the spirit of collaboration. Whether or not a particular Type B naturally gravitates toward a communal setting, it’s still important for managers to encourage these employees to work in productive partnerships with other team members. Often, Type B’s are quite affable in collaborative settings and it’s up to managers to assure they are offering these workers the opportunity to expand upon their most valuable traits and talents.
Description: Type C personalities tend to be detail-driven, gravitating toward behind-the-scenes roles. A Type C employee may often be found in accounting positions, such as internal auditing, or other data-driven or internal processing positions, for example. While they may not crave the driven leadership status of a Type A or the amiable laid-back creativity of a Type B employee, Type C’s are comfortable in roles where detail and specifics are elemental.
Tips for Managers: “Rely on these employees when details are more important than hype or style,” says Ingram. While placing a Type C personality in a leadership position may not necessarily be disastrous, , the individual’s personal fulfillment and contentment within the role will certainly not be at its apex, in turn, affecting the employee’s overall output and quality of work. In fact, the repetitive (yet equally important) work that may seem monotonous to a Type A – or even a Type B – personality will likely be well-received and appreciated by a Type C.
Another increasingly popular personality methodology worth noting is the MBTI (Meyers Briggs Type Indicator), which is becoming quite established in the corporate world. Beyond a simple “A,B,C” demarcation, the MBTI utilizes eight primary cognitive function models based upon “sensing”, “intuition”, and “feeling” within an either introverted or extroverted context. In fact, this process has often proved startlingly accurate; not to mention useful in crafting a team that will be both effective and dynamic in completing a given task.
Learn more about MBTI and the Meyer & Briggs Foundation here.
In the end, it comes down to your own capacity as a leader. It is your job to take the tools and most credible knowledge you can find and use them effectively; all while maintaining the flexibility and enthusiasm to meet each of your team members upon the ground they most comfortably stand. In this way, you establish not only good pathways of communication, but a reference point for trust and positive collaboration.
In essence, the ability to balance the notions of objectivity and subjectivity, and to recognize each team member as a unique individual, is what separates the good leaders from the great ones.
More from Stewart Cooper & Coon: Boss Redefined: What Makes a Great Modern Business Leader
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