Editor's note: In this excerpt of The Entrepreneur Next Door, author Bill Wagner introduces you to the benefits of understanding and working with different personality types. To learn more about the seven key entrepreneurial personality types that Wagner recognizes, read "What's Your Type? and check out his book on Entrepreneur Press.
Everyone is good at something. Rarely is anyone good at everything. And like it or not, very few people achieve success in ventures that aren't good fits with their innate personalities. So if you want to start a company, get a job, or invest in an opportunity, doesn't it make sense to learn more about who you are and what makes you tick? If you're going to be hiring and managing people, wouldn't it be a good idea to know who they really are?
The Benefits of Understanding
Understanding your personality and the personalities on your team gives you an incredible edge. If you're a believer in the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," it's time to reconsider. Although the adage sounds good, it will please only the people who are just like you. Instead, consider doing unto others as they would have you do unto them. In other words, treat others as they want to be treated. Warning: Don't assume you know how someone wants to be treated.
Secret: Knowing someone's personality type gives you accurate information on what type of treatment will trigger the response you want.
Even without knowing someone's personality profile, you can make a fairly educated guess at his personality type by paying close attention to what he says, what he does, and how he does it. For example, is he a risk-taker or a risk-avoider? Does he seem to enjoy working with people or systems? Does he seem to multitask, or does he prefer to finish a project before starting another?
Imagine that you walk into a conference room for a committee meeting with a handful of people you've never met. All of you have volunteered to be part of the committee, so you can assume that you either have some level of sociability or a need to achieve or control. Otherwise, the typical tendency would be to avoid (or at least not volunteer for) group or team situations.
The first objective is to select a committee chairman. Before the introductions have even begun, Sally says, "Let's get down to business. We don't have much time, and I have a lot of experience in this area, so I'd like to get things started and make myself available to serve as the interim committee chair."
George interjects, "Maybe it would make the most sense to review the objectives for our committee and then take a vote."
Karen agrees with George: "We probably all have experience in this area, so to keep the process fair, I think we should get to know each other a little and then consider our options. But I'm open to whatever the rest of you are thinking."
Tom says, "Voting sounds good to me." With a soft chuckle he adds, "Just don't put my name in the hat. But if you need me, I'd be willing to help out." Everyone but Sally laughs.
Karen turns to Stuart, who has been quiet up to this point, and asks, "What do you think?"
Stuart has the look of a deer in headlights. He swallows and says, "I'm here for your computer support. It doesn't matter to me who's in charge, so long as it's not me."
Of the profiles you read in the previous section, which one do you think fits each committee member? Take a moment to consider the possibilities before you read further. Sally exhibits high dominance by suggesting that she be in charge. She shows she's more analytical (less sociable) by expressing more interest in the objectives than in meeting the rest of the people on the committee. She doesn't laugh when Tom introduces a little humor to the mix. Sally is probably a Trailblazer. (This doesn't mean Trailblazers don't have a sense of humor, but "fun" tends to take a back seat to results when they're on a mission.)
George is willing to disagree with Sally's suggestion and put forth his own idea and suggest a vote. The willingness to challenge Sally shows that he also has high dominance, but his desire for group consensus indicates that he has a higher level of sociability than Sally. George is most likely a Go-Getter but possibly a Manager.
Karen attempts to increase the comfort level in the meeting, showing a higher degree of cooperation and acceptance. She supports George's idea to vote but also says she'll go along with whatever the others want. She doesn't want to be part of a conflict, which is on par with her cooperative and accepting nature. She suggests that the members get to know one another a little, which indicates that she's sociable, but she's willing to express her own ideas. She also asks Stuart to share his thoughts, again showing her tendency to be cooperative or a consensus-builder. Karen is probably a Diplomat.
Tom makes it clear that he doesn't want to be the one in charge but suggests that he's willing to assist. This indicates that he has above-average dominance, though not nearly as above-average as Sally and George. He has an easy way about him and makes a joke, indicating high sociability. Tom seems to be a Motivator or possibly a Diplomat. Stuart, who doesn't say a word until he's specifically asked to comment, shows a more accepting and analytical side. His statement that he doesn't want to be in charge indicates his accepting nature, and his assertion of his specific role as "computer support" indicates that he wants to stay in that role. Stuart is most likely a Specialist/Authority.