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Leading different personalities

CCLBlog Team Excellence Leading different personalities

Leading different personalities

Why does it matter? And, can different personalities work in harmony?

Does your Team function well? Is there a dominating personality dictating office rules in your absence? Is there a cohesive working environment that maximises your talented work force? Are people behaving differently at work, or has their behaviour changed over time? Do they feel valued? All these factors may crop up when leading different personalities.


Why is Leading Different Personalities effectively, essential to organisations?

Firstly, it diversifies the workplace bringing different skillsets and temperaments into teams.

Secondly, if blended together fittingly their output as a team far outweighs that of each individual. There are multiple personalities types each with their own uniqueness and value that needs to be harnessed. Employees may be ambitious, innovative, steadfast, meticulous in approach or simply off-the cuff!

By having different personalities, there will be alternative mindsets that consider more factors when decision making or problem solving, producing better all-round results.

It will create a workforce that balances both strengths and weaknesses through understanding of each other’s attributes.

Having been leading different personalities for nearly 30 years within a diverse organisation who recruit from multiple backgrounds and cultures, I’ve made some interesting observations. I would find myself asking various questions, such as:


  • Is there the right mix of personalities?
  • Do we have a common purpose?
  • The team have a strong identity?
  • Tasks performed important to those individuals?
  • Do individuals in the team receive the recognition they deserve?
  • As a leader are you part of the problem?

I needed to identify that there is a good mix of professionals with different personalities, it would limit friction between them. It would be my role as Leader to fuse them together and motivate towards a common goal. Time to rise to the challenge!!!

Here is a guide to leading different personalities – I have devised a 3-step checklist:

Step 1:
Who are you? – Be the Leader you always wanted to be!

To manage others, we must first manage ourselves effectively, being humble, prioritise effectively, communicate clearly and provide a clear vision for others to follow.

Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses will give you the insight to fill those gaps and needs with the personalities within your team. Are you Autocratic, Democratic or laissez-faire in your approach?

Emotional intelligence plays a far greater part in becoming a good leader. When we have high levels of emotional intelligence it allows us to build better relationships.

The five key areas to emotional intelligence that I used over time was;


  • Self- awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

My personality and Leadership style swayed into the democratic category, but not entirely!!! I did want to get buy-in from all parties so there was agreement in the decision- making process, but at times I have used an autocratic approach, especially if time sensitive. The laissez-faire approach has at times been slated as lazy!!! But with the right Team or individuals it has produced surprisingly good results by giving freedoms they desire for innovation. Surely, a good blend of all 3 Leadership styles is the answer, right?

Also, being humble enough to admit I don’t have all the answers and Team cohesion is paramount, a ‘Mantra` that has served me well. Using good social skills and a personable manner to build relationships is an art, but one many can master if they take time to reflect on their own Leadership style.
With a good understanding of my own Leadership traits, now I need to meet the Team!!!

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

Step 2:
Know the value of your Team – Harness their uniqueness – Harmonise their talent!

The concept that ‘people’ are the most valuable asset to any organisation is not a new one. However, how many large corporations know their people well? Most Leaders see themselves as visionary, able to problem solve or see the bigger picture and lead projects – All this by themselves? Of course not, the Team will play their role.

Other personalities needed such as the worker; steady, dependable and often unassuming who ‘stays in lane`, but gets the job done.

The innovator; who has moments of brilliance but may stray and lose focus.

The analyst, who works well by using logic and forecasting events and problems, usually works well with the visionary.

These are but a few examples entwined with many more produces diversity. This coupled with emotional intelligence develops an understanding of what motivates people and harmonises them within a team. Who is temperamental, why? Maybe it’s the environment, or possible they could be partnered with someone with a calming influence.

There are Personality Tests such as Myer-Briggs but should we pigeon hole people and is that the solution?

Listening intently, stepping-back and observing allowed me to assess the dynamics of the Team.

Sometimes I would pose a problem in an open-forum and observe how they arrived at their decision, with who assuming what roles.

Another effective way to gauge dynamics is by informal opportune 1:1 chats, often I could get personal opinions, especially from those less vocal.

However, this would never go unnoticed, and merited when appropriate!!!

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” – Henry Ford

Step 3:
Team Feedback – Reward and Praise – What are their needs??? – Set the Conditions!!!

Feedback is essential: motivational, it promotes Team belonging, and should be ‘Constructive’ given with unconscious bias disregarding character traits.

But Feedback isn’t necessarily always positive: it should be measured against objectives and delivery is everything!

Understanding the needs of the Team, both individually and as a Team member is crucial and it allowed me to foster an ethos of commitment to the task at hand. By setting vision, strategy, whilst monitoring outputs and behaviours, and championing communication allowed sharing of ideas and information. Individuals need emotional management against setbacks/frustrations, even over-confidence!

Giving praise and rewarding helped consolidate the Team. Using different media platforms; emailing ensured the Team and others – including the CEO – were aware of performances or hard-work. Public- forums, notice boards, circulatory memorandum were also used. The messaging maybe similar but the content was original, it was sincere and it was deserved!!!


Leading different personalities requires leaders to utilise their strengths and minimise weaknesses while understanding the uniqueness and talents of the team.

Giving feedback and praise allows Teams to openly communicate; knowing boundaries of tolerance and respect by the conditions you set will furnace a diverse team that plays to its strengths in all areas.

Be humble using emotional intelligence and respect others but don’t be afraid to challenge the Team. By questioning their understanding employees showcase their knowledge, and being honest with your response it shows authentic Leadership, providing a foundation of trust throughout the Team.