Getting Diverse Personalities on the Same Page

By Cameron Herold
In yesterday’s Advisor, Cameron Herold, founder of COO Alliance and author of Meetings Suck: Turning One of the Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable, described four different personalities: Dominants, Expressives, Analyticals, and Amiables. Today Herold provides advice on getting these personalities to work together well in meetings.

When you’re leading or participating in a meeting, the biggest challenge is preventing the Dominants and Expressives from steamrolling the Analyticals and Amiables. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing because when you run a meeting you can rest assured knowing these people will engage and speak out.
However, you do have to worry about them not hearing others, taking over the meeting, or not caring about the agenda. Most of the time, they need simple reassurance that they’ve been heard, their ideas have been captured, and their contributions have been understood. The great thing about these individuals is they accept that being heard doesn’t mean the leader will always take their ideas.
If your meeting does get overtaken by the Dominants and Expressives, then the problem is that most Analyticals and Amiables will keep their ideas to themselves or, if they do speak out, they might be ignored.
A personal example may help illustrate what can happen when this dilemma arises.
When I worked as the COO of a company, the CEO and I were both very dominant and very expressive. Meanwhile, we had a vice president of finance who was probably amiable as a primary trait and analytical as a secondary trait. He was very quiet, soft-spoken, and polite. He regularly told us to be careful and that he worried about our numbers.
“I’m worried about the spending,” he’d say, and then he’d highlight other potentially fatal flaws in the organization that he foresaw.
“Yeah, yeah. But here’s why it works,” the CEO and I would reply. Then we’d sell him on our ideas while we plowed over his objections. Because we were so domineering and forward-driving as Dominants and Expressives, we refused to hear him tell us that there was a problem. When suddenly a new CFO came into the company and announced, “We’re running out of money,” we were shocked to learn this.
All we could think was, why were we just learning about this now? Then, we realized we did know about it. We had just ignored it. It was like driving down the highway and seeing a sign that says, “Caution: Bridge Out,” but trying to convince ourselves that we could make it work. But there was no bridge, and we almost lost the company over our inability to hear what was being said over our own voices and ideas.
To avoid a situation like mine, I encourage you to identify your personality types. Understand their strengths and weaknesses so you can address some of the natural pitfalls and mistakes.
My primary trait is expressive, and my secondary trait is dominant. I talk with my hands and think out loud. I’m very emotional and take things extremely personally. I’ve had to develop a number of tactics to balance myself and to ensure I don’t overwhelm my colleagues. For one, I’ve learned to sit on my hands, which I know sounds weird, but it works because it prevents me from starting to talk.
Another tactic is to count my ideas on my fingers. I will hold my finger out to remind myself that I have an idea, but that I can wait to say it instead of jumping into the conversation immediately. I will also make an attempt to listen to the person speaking, and maybe I will ask a question or two to understand their point before sharing mine.
Finally, I’m cognizant to ask the youngest person or newest member of the group to speak first and share his or her ideas before I give mine to the group.
Once you identify your type, you, too, can start developing your own tactics to address some of the issues you might face in a meeting. The ones I described above can work for Dominants and Expressives.
Analyticals and Amiables should begin by realizing their worth and value. If you’ve been invited to the meeting, that means people believe you will add value. Your task is to ask yourself, “How can I best provide value?” It’s probably by sharing ideas and information, so understanding that your thoughts are wanted will make you more likely to offer them. Then, try and make a conscious effort to speak at least once during a meeting or to write down your ideas.