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How Do You Manage and Coach Different Personalities?

A group of different employees having a discussion

Everyone is different. And teams consist of lots of contrasting people.

So, when people coach and lead teams, they encounter different personalities.

Your leaders will work with extroverts, introverts, those who are open to change, and others who struggle to adapt, to give just a few examples.

To be successful, they need to identify them, understand them, and tailor their approach.

A one-size-fits-all approach will not work.

And they also need to understand their own personality.

To find out more about it, I met up with business coach Tienie Loubser.

And he began by telling me about the importance of leaders understanding the different personalities within their team.

“To create a great experience for a team, you need to get to a place where that team wants to be together,” he said.

“There’s nothing worse than thinking ‘oh no, we’ve got a team meeting again - John is going to be there, and I really don’t want to sit with him’.

“That puts you in a comply or reluctantly comply mode, which affects your output. In that meeting, you will do one of two things. You’ll either stay quiet because you don’t want to talk in front of John. Or, every time John opens his mouth, you criticise him.

“To create a better experience, we need to understand each other a little better and change the language.

“Instead of saying someone is ‘so excitable’ or ‘irritating’, for example, change the language so that we say that person is ‘energetic’ and ‘wants to get things done’.

“The happier we are with the people around us, the happier we are and the more comfortable we are in our roles. And that builds up trust, which is a key component in teams.”

We look at ‘personality colours’ on our new online ILM Level 5 course in effective coaching and mentoring.

It is based on the work of Carl Jung, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, and represents each personality type by a different colour.

And while it is not without its critics, it is a good way for leaders identifying and considering different personalities and the preferred way team members want to work.

To give you more of an idea, someone with a mainly red personality will be fast-paced and results-focused. And can be impatient. Someone with a more yellow personality will be optimistic, interactive and a good motivator. But can also be stubborn and docile.

Tienie believes assessments are helpful tools. But he also offers a few caveats.

“You can’t say just because someone says ‘this is me’ that it is all they do,” he said.

“The other aspect is that this process takes courage. Sometimes people will read an assessment, and they are not ready to accept the findings or don’t want to face it.

“So, one of the strongest business coaching questions is ‘what are you pretending not to hear?’

“Ultimately, assessments are a great tool to have as long as you have adult thinking with the results to embrace the strengths it offers you to build on.

“When you use the assessments, facilitate a conversation by getting people to ask questions about their profile, rather than offering strengths and weaknesses of each behaviour.”

So, what does this all mean for coaching?

We know employees want more coaching and want to develop. And that process needs to involve helping them understand their personality and those of others.

“When you are coaching, it is your job to take the person you are working with on a journey of discovery about different personalities,” says Tienie.

“You need to ask questions like, what is your team dynamics like? Who annoys you the most? What is their biggest strength? How does that strength overlap with your strength? Is it because you are strong in the same areas that you find each other annoying?”

“The truth is, not all people like each other. When you embrace that fact, there are things that can be done to improve tolerance thresholds.”

One of the challenges for coaches is that two of the main personality types require vastly different approaches.

“The key difference is you will get a lot of information from the extrovert, and from the introvert, you will get a lot of reflection,” he said.

“So, when you are coaching an extrovert, you need to cut through all that information and work out what is important to them.

“With the introvert, you need to be more patient and accept that it may take longer for them to trust you and start being forthcoming with information.”

What roles does the coach’s personality play in this?

This is something we cover in detail during our ILM Level 7 business coaching courses for executives and senior coaches.

And we use Dr David Rock’s SCARF model to show how status impacts every interaction and why it should be removed from coaching conversations.

“You have to help people remove status, create certainty and offer autonomy,” Tienie said.

“You need to manage your ego and be aware of your profile. As soon as you start saying, ‘when I was in this situation, what I did was...’, you destroy your coaching.

“You also need to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. I know I work better with introverts than extroverts as a coach.

“With extroverts, I find you get so much information, and 80 per cent of it might be rubbish. And I get frustrated with that because it means the time is not used valuably.

“I need to manage myself in that situation and say, ‘out of all that stuff you have given me, let’s focus on your top three - what are they?’

“That’s a technique that helps me help them distil what they are trying to say, and it gets them to a place where they understand how I work.

“They know I want their top two or three priorities, and it becomes a natural process.”

Find out more about the coaching skills your leaders need on our new online ILM Level 5 course in effective coaching and mentoring by clicking here.

The BCF group has been helping organisations develop their talent, inspire their people and overcome obstacles and challenges for the past 25 years.

We deliver training that makes a difference. Find out more about our business coaching, management training and interpersonal skills options.

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