What Leaders Forget When Leading Employees



When leaders need to hire, they first look at a resume. When leaders need to assign work, they do so based on skill set and past performance. When leaders promote, they consider potential leadership skills.

In each of these situations, leaders forget one very important thing.

Employees are more than just resumes, skill sets, histories of performance and potential leadership skills. There is a whole other side of them that, in my assertion, affects how they work even more than their education and experience.


By personality, I don’t just mean whether they are friendly, reserved, confident and excitable. I mean the way they prefer to communicate, organize their work, make decisions and where they get their energy.

I’m talking full personality type and the vast impact it has on how each of us works. When leaders consider personality type when interacting with employees, their effectiveness increases.

Why This Matters

It isn’t skill set that determines how a person likes to interact at work, it is their personality. The easiest example to understand this concept is with households with multiple children. If you have children (or siblings), I’m sure this example will ring true.

A house with three children will have shared experiences. The education of the children will be the same. The skills, rules and ways of living life imbued upon them by their parents will be the same.

And yet, each child may be so different than the other.

What makes them different? Personality. Parents quickly learn that the way you motivate one child may be very different than the way you motive their sibling. All because of differences in personality type.

We do not just get over this when we become adults. Our personality plays a massive role in how we show up at work.

For leaders, personality, not skill set, should inform how you motivate, recognize, provide feedback to, assign work tasks and more.

Beyond Introvert and Extrovert

When some think about personality type they think of introvert and extrovert, the differences in, what many wrongly interpret, as the way individuals prefer to communicate. But personality type influences so much more introversion and extroversion (which is actually an indication of where people draw their energy, not how they like to communicate).

Personality type influences how people make decisions, the type of information they like and trust, how they organize their world, how they contribute on teams, how they focus their energy and more.

If skill set is what an individual can do, personality type is the how. Our innate preferences influence how we go about the work assigned to us and how we interact with those around us. While our work can require us to act outside of that, we have a preferred way of doing it.

Understanding this preference and harnessing it to allow employees to work how they work best can be business transforming.

Balance is Important

I have written about this before so won’t go into great detail here, but having balanced teams from a personality perspective is important. If a team is full of individuals who only make decisions based on past experience or what they can experience through the five senses, then they may not take risks that could lead to innovation. If a team is made up of only people who remove human emotion when creating plans, they may miss the benefits that come with thinking from the perspective of others.

I could write paragraphs about what could be missed, but what is more important is what could be gained.

Just like diversity in thought, culture and experience bring many helpful perspectives to a team, diversity in personality type removes the risk of groupthink and can definitely help eliminate the dreaded “this is the way we have always done it.”

Formal or Informal - Do Not Ignore

While I am a big proponent of formal personality typing exercises, there is a ton of value in informal studying of personality as well. This often happens organically the longer you work with someone. The problem is we think about it more from the perspective of interacting with those in a position of authority above us more than we do those working on our team.

Leaders can likely identify how their boss makes decisions, the type of info they will need to think through a problem, how they liked to be approached with good and bad news, etc. The same is true for employees.

Taking the time to think through personality type during everyday interactions as well as more formal coaching and team building can deliver not only a stronger relationship but better overall productivity across the board.

Originally posted on the Acacia Solutions blog.


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