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A Passion for Personality – Understanding One of Our Greatest Assets

Most organizations say that their people are their greatest asset and yet how well do they truly understand the power of their people?

What could be more exciting than exploring human nature? A slow revealing of ourselves over our working lives understanding the unconscious drives of our conscious behaviors. This is the power of personality!

Most organizations call out their people as their greatest asset. They make invitations to bring your best self… whole self… authentic self to work, and yet, how well do they truly understand the power of their people?

Bring Cinderella to the Ball

It is revered in applied psychological research, yet often misrepresented in the popular press, we could, of course, continue the classic critique of personality, erroneously linked to “type” tools as a proxy for “all things” personality – or – we can champion and consider its contribution. In fact, we are likely to be able to shed light on our preference for binary rather than paradoxical thinking which enables us to value our understanding of personality AND recognize that it is not all there is!

Today's “ball” is chaotic, challenging, both complicated and complex and we enter “masked” by our core dispositions, filtering our perceptions, seducing our sensemaking, driving our behavior while being blind to this “wearable” of old.

Fundamentally social and designed for group interaction there’s likely to be social order of some kind, tensions in our systems of meaning and the need for leadership of any group.

Most organizations call out their people as their greatest asset but how well do they truly understand the power of their people?

“Prediction Is Hard, Especially When It’s about the Future”

Enter Leadership life -- more complex, less predictable and more confusing than the less connected and more predictable times we were designed for. High speed and high interconnectedness necessitate a redesign, a change of tune and ways of being that can help us flourish and thrive in a world constantly providing us with the unexpected. How can our understanding of personality, with its promise of prediction help us in our quest to understand how we get along with others, get ahead of some and find meaning and order?

Personality in Practice

Arguably accepted, the “Big Five” characteristics describe most of our dispositions that are likely to remain relatively stable over our lives no matter the turbulence of our times. And gosh, our times are certainly turbulent; if today had been predicted at all, then it was likely to have been only by the few and paid attention to by the even fewer!

How can embracing our personality help us psychologically sustain ourselves, to connect deeply to others and manage this dynamic to ensure we perform effectively and keep our clients and organizations surviving at worst, flourishing at best?

Raising our self-awareness is the first step, and while any personality questionnaire rarely surprises it can cast a light on our internal drives. From this, we can see how we dance at the ball and the impact this has on others and in turn the way in which they may impact us.

It is a dynamic and open relationship and brings real value when applied to today’s organizational challenges. The way in which we embrace and deeply connect to the experiences of all those around us, our emotional literacy positively contributing to collaborative cohesive groups (Barrick et al., 1998) so as to ensure great performance of how equipped we are to balance tensions, solve dilemmas together, learning and growing as we go.

It is not just a series or sequence of “dance steps” but how we navigate the dancefloor, how do we move seamlessly around, who might we elbow or challenge for space. We can rarely focus on the steps, music, and space all at once so how is our thinking affected, do we go with the flow or work it all out? Can we even see where we are headed? How can we adapt our moves when there is a risk of pressure derailing us?

And now, of course, we find ourselves in a context which is revealing in the most raw and visceral way, our innermost workings, this chaos tripping us up, a leveler for all. Where our best response may need to be counterintuitive and deliberately drawn from us. Surely, understanding ourselves, acknowledging and appreciating all others, collectively unifying our communities and culture can only positively contribute to creating today the world of tomorrow.

Let’s put our criticism aside and embrace the power of personality in understanding and unleashing the power of our people to create a world able to sustain healthy, happy and successful people.

To find out how you can optimize the power of personality contact us today!

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Sian Ferguson

Sian Ferguson is Head of Solutions Consulting for SHL's UK & Ireland business. She’s a registered Occupational Psychologist and Accredited Professional Executive Coach, with organisational experience in assessment and selection, leadership and executive development and cultural transformation. Her real passion is in bringing together meaningful people science, customer insight and great partnership in service of our clients' needs. Walking alongside them as we grow and transform together.

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