Why does one person spend hours sifting through data for clues about customers, while another seems to grasp the situation intuitively? Why do some people find it so draining to always be “on”? What makes the nitty-gritty details of running a small business such a dreaded chore for many?
It all comes down to personality. Personality defines how people experience the world, approach work, and deal with others. While humans are complex, getting a handle on personal strengths and weaknesses can be a powerful tool for managing the business and employees.
The Hay Group created its powerful Inventory of Leadership Styles to better describe the archetypal traits and behaviors found in managers. In most cases, people are composites of all of the archetypes, but with varying proportional breakdowns. Emphasizing different parts of your personality profile to better suit specific situations is a crucial skill for efficient and productive management.
Coercive: gaining immediate compliance from employees
Leaders of this type tend to be firm and strong, sending a clear message of expectation and deliverables. They can, however, get mired in micromanagement of basic tasks, stifling innovation from the ranks.
Authoritative: providing long-term vision and leadership
Managers within this category can be inspiring, reaching all ranks of staff by showing how each fits into the larger goals of the company. Negative tendencies include a disconnect from daily responsibility or oversight in favor of the big picture.
Affiliative: creating trust and harmony
Affiliative managers tend to be more sensitive, which can be a major asset when recruiting new talent, or constructing teams or task forces. Sometimes, however, they can be manipulated or distracted by employees focusing on the emotional experience rather than the work responsibility.
Democratic: reaching group consensus and generating new ideas
Team-building is key for democratic managers. They tend to get buy-in from all ranks of staff by giving each of them a voice. Their downfall can be in a failure to meet goals set by upper management or a board in favor of meeting goals set by the team itself.
Pacesetting: leading by example and accomplishing tasks to high standards
Leading by example is always a great motivation for a team, and it’s always pleasant to work for someone who understands your commitment to the job. Potential pitfalls are being disconnected from workers, however, by being focused on your individual goals and deliverables.
Coaching: focusing on the professional growth of employees
Coaching managers have a great eye for talent, and are excellent at placing new staff, or helping workers rise through the ranks. It’s possible for them, however, to focus their efforts on a small subsection of their team, rather than managing their workforce as a whole.
Inside every manager is a multitude of personalities and managerial styles. Ideally, effective managers would take the strengths of each of these profiles while discarding the weaknesses, but like everything else, that work is a process.
For small business owners, the demands of the job require impossible clusters of traits: conscientious, caring, creative, gregarious, meticulous, a strategic thinker. But no one can be all things to all people.
Instead, by recognizing how personality impacts thoughts and behavior, small business owners can highlight strengths, fix problem spots, and get a handle on how to manage people in productive, authentic ways. Personality insights can also help owners understand and train employees.
Still better, small business owners can pinpoint those parts of the business they dislike or aren’t suited for. Hiring the right people can offset some weaknesses, while Clover apps can simplify unwelcome tasks—letting people focus on what they’re hardwired to enjoy.[image: bojana029.jpg by Vivian Chen on flickr]