What makes a great leader?
What essential skills will make a leader successful?
What is the best leadership personality?
Because we are in the business of developing great leaders, we frequently get asked these questions. Here’s what we do, and what we are learning.
We use a personality and communication framework called the Process Communication Model (PCM®) that is extremely effective at improving how leaders communicate and resolve conflict with different personality types. It conceptualizes personality as being made up of six parts, stacked much like the six floors of a condominium. We all have all six parts, they can be arranged in any order, and can exist within us at varying “bandwidths” or degrees of strength.
Each floor is correlated with unique character strengths, perceptual frames of reference, environmental preferences, motivational needs, communication styles, and predictable distress behaviors.
In search of the ideal leadership personality
So what is the ideal leadership personality structure? Sorry, no can do. Great leaders come in all shapes and sizes. There is no ONE best personality.
The good news is that there is one key predictor of great leadership, and it exists “between the lines” of a leader’s personality. It’s called Personality Agility.
Everyone is capable of moving around in their personality condominium, energizing the character strengths, perceptual languages, and communication styles that go with each part of their personality. Because everyone has all six parts, each of us therefore has the potential to relate to different people by matching personality floors.
Communicating effectively is not about what we say, but how we say it. Leveraging all six floors of our personality condominium greatly improves the effectiveness of communication, regardless of the message being delivered.
What does the brain science say?
In neurobehavioral terms this alignment is called “neural coupling” and it can be assessed through words, tones, postures, gestures, and facial expressions. Princeton University Researchers have shown that neural coupling produces a host of positive outcomes including increased mood and feelings of goodwill, engagement, better attention, and memory.
Did you know that the best salespeople are Ambiverts? Neither extroverts nor introverts can outsell ambiverts because they are agile and can adapt to people and situations. They possess personality agility.
Three Leadership Imperatives for Personality Agility
To be a great leader you must excel in three key practices to develop your personality agility.
Meet your psychological needs
PCM identifies unique psychological needs for each personality type, one of them being primary in each of us at any given time in our lives. The single most important key to gaining access to other parts of our personality is getting our own psychological needs met in healthy ways every day. We call this being self-ful. The more capable a leader is in this area, the more agile and resilient she will be.
Grow your bandwidth
Like muscles, each floor in our personality condo can be developed with practice. Bandwidth refers to the capacity, strength, and proficiency of each part in our personality. It predicts how well we can access the capacities inherent in this part, how effectively we can communicate with different people, and how long we can keep at it. Even though you can’t change your personality, you can grow your bandwidth to become more agile as a leader.
Stay out of distress
Negative distress behavior is a natural consequence when leaders are not getting their psychological needs met and/or do not have the necessary bandwidth to deal with a situation. It’s easy to see this happen in the presidential debates. Rubio challenges Trump with a logic-based question, testing his factual knowledge of Middle-Eastern politics. Trump, who’s primary personality type is action-oriented “Promoter”, does not have enough bandwidth in his “Thinker” floor to meet the challenge. Predictably, he shows us his distress and manipulates by evading the question and insulting Rubio’s intelligence with the following comment, “Arab name, Arab name. You are probably reading those off a list.”
Distress behavior hurts everyone. Recognizing and preventing their own distress is a critical skill of agile leaders.
Why do we use and certify change agents in PCM instead of other better-known personality models? Because it gives us the best strategies to assess and develop leadership agility. Learn more about personality architecture.
Tune in next week when I’ll focus on the personality types of our 2016 presidential candidates and what that means for the election.
Follow @NextNate on Twitter
Connect with Nate on LinkedIn