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Harness personality differences for success

Media release 10 November 2008

Harness personality differences for business success

Effective business leaders must nurture differences in their staff if they want to develop high-performing teams and cut staff turnover, says author, public speaker and personality expert Allison Mooney.

Speaking to 200 businesspeople at a Robert Half Business Breakfast in Auckland, Allison Mooney said personality clashes were behind many resignations. But by harnessing the different personalities, and playing to their strengths, business leaders could build successful, high-performing teams of motivated employees.

“If you cannot connect with your staff, your colleagues, your customers, you are not doing very well as a leader,” she said.

The four personality types all behaved differently, had different strengths and weaknesses and needed different environments and tools to work with, she said.

“Playfuls” are the social life and soul of any environment – they thrive on fun and interaction with other people and bring life to lifeless situations.

“Precises” are orderly, deep thinkers who revel in detail and analysis, and tend to be perfectionists.

“Peacefuls” are diplomatic observers, who work quietly at their own pace, are good listeners and non-confrontational.

“Powerfuls” are action-oriented “doers” who focus on bottom-line results and the big picture – and want things done NOW.

“Nobody is better, just different,” Allison Mooney said. “If you are building a team, you need each type on your team.”

Playful people would energise a team, powerful people would inspire vision and action, precise people would ensure the job was done properly, and peaceful people would act as great mediators, bringing the team together.

Referring to the current financial crisis, she said, “We need playfuls when things are tough, because they bring life into lifeless situations.”

But in many workplaces leaders don’t take account of these personality types, instead expecting everyone to think and behave like they do.

“If you are going to employ a playful, they have got to be working with others. They will wilt up and die if they are not working with others,” Alison Mooney said. “With precises, give them information – they will love it.”

Peacefuls made “phenomenal” business leaders, she said, because of their ability to draw people together. “But they do frustrate powerfuls, because the powerful wants it NOW and they would rather sleep on it.

“What we have to understand is that we all carry a tank with us that needs filling, and as leaders, we don’t do that very well because we see the world from our perspective, and we don’t see the world as others are seeing it.

“As leaders, we need to do the modification, the adjusting, the flexing to other personalities. We should not expect our staff to do it for us.”

Megan Alexander, senior manager with Robert Half, said job-seekers frequently put inspirational leadership on their wish-list when asked what they wanted in their next job.

“Indeed, 33% of the employees who took part in this year’s Robert Half Auckland Salary Survey said they would accept a lower salary in return for the chance to work with an inspirational leader.

“That just shows how important it is to truly understand what motivates your employees. Different personality types require different motivation, and by understanding that you can become one of those inspirational leaders skilled staff are looking for.”


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