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Horses for Courses: Managing Different Personality Types

Throughout my writings, there is one theme that I believe becomes quite clear to the reader. That there are no cookie cutter approaches to problems. This applies to managing people. One debate centres around personality types and the simple dichotomy between extroversion and introversion (and those who fall in-between)

The fact that we've come to live in an extrovert-oriented society places pressure on many young people to behave in ways that are not “in their nature” and don’t necessarily leverage their strengths. It is hard to deny that western society recognizes, encourages and even celebrates “extravertness” (also spelled “extrovertness”) and that this has tangible implications when hiring, doing performance appraisals, evaluating whom to promote or electability in politics. To some degree perhaps, this is natural for a species that is first and foremost social in nature (after all, we are “social animals”), but we may have stressed this preference to a degree that is not necessarily healthy for society.

Introversion-extraversion needs to be looked at as a spectrum to avoid the often-misleading simplicity of “binarism.” Human beings rarely fall neatly into binary categories, although it is fair to assume that we are more or less inclined or predisposed towards certain traits. In fact, we could argue that most people are a combination of traits (they are 'ambivert' in Cain’s nomenclature) falling somewhere towards the middle of the spectrum rather than the extremes: people whose personality tends to have a balance of extrovert and introvert traits. Indeed, there are many different types of introverts and extroverts and we can all recognise the unique combination in ourselves. Introverts are not necessarily all 'quiet and shy' – they may simply prefer to do things alone, but that does not mean that socializing depletes their psychic energy. It is just a matter of degree. How much of this is dopamine-related (ie a physiological cause from what has been referred to as “the feel good chemical” in our brain) is perhaps a debate best left outside this discussion.

When managing individuals and teams, knowledge of what makes people tick can work wonders. It requires empathy and true listening, an ability that some leaders leverage to great effect. Horses for courses is a tried and tested approach to people issues and personality profiling can definitely help accomplish that.

I've already dealt with the different profiling models out there in a previous post.


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