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Leaders should understand people’ personalities


PEOPLE are born different and they behave differently. The more we learn how to handle people, the better we become as leaders.

There are some people that seen impossible to deal with, but there is a way to deal with that; we need to understand them. We tend to want other people to think, act, talk and respond as we want them to, but that not always the case. We are genetically and inherently different.

Last week’s article on team playing ties well with this one since in all instances we are dealing with people. When we understand people around us and acknowledge that they are different we are bound to be successful as leaders. This makes us win and leaders in faculties such as selling, marketing and public relations will appreciate that we win when we have good people skills.

Talking of people, John C Maxwell in his book The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day (2000; Page 151) says, “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand. To lead yourself, use your heard; to lead others, use your heart”.

How do we do that? Psychological classifications show that there are four major temperaments or personality types. The word “temperament” has its origins in the Latin word temperamentun which means “right blending”. These four temperaments have been with us for some centuries.

These where popularised by Hippocrates and other early Greek scholars and today they still help us classify people’s personalities:

  • Choleric
    This type of a person is power driven or wants to be in control. She/he is a leader, strong willed, goal oriented and want things done. Such a person is positive, practical, independent, confident, and welcomes challenges. The unpleasant side is that they can be very self-sufficient, harsh and hot tempered. As you lead such people, you need to have patience when dealing with them. As a leader you need to note that these people lack something that you could give. For example, you need to show them love, kindness, be gentle and help them lead without using force.
  • Sanguine
    The second personality is a sanguine. As the term implies, this kind of a person is always cheerful, upbeat and optimistic. They are outgoing, energetic, friendly, forgiving and very bold. These are good at networking. Generally, it’s fun to hang out with a sanguine. Unlike the choleric that is mainly goal-oriented, the sanguine is relationship-oriented and that’s why they are very popular. The sanguine has weaknesses too. Since they are relationally oriented, they are very emotional and are people pleasers. It’s great to have a sanguine in a company they bring a dose of fun, but you could end up partying all day, loose focus and get defocused from the real goal. If you are a sanguine you need extra self-control, faithfulness and patience.
  • Phlegmatic
    This is the group that I am in and I am also half sanguine. I hope you are also identifying with your class. The phlegmatic, desires peace and is a team player. Such people are dependable, calm, easygoing, witty, and very attentive. These people are efficient and purpose driven. The problem here is that this group can be so apathetic and compromising. Since they are easygoing they could carry the I don’t care attitude. Calm people like the phlegmatic are needed, but for some situations we need people that are very responsive and quick to act.
  • Melancholy
    As the name implies people on this group are introverted. These people are thoughtful, creative, deep, and are perfectionists. These are the people that always want a high standard in anything they do; they are organised and are task oriented. At times it’s hard to deal with such people because they are impractical, over analytical, moody and insecure.
  • With this snap shot into people’s personalities, I hope you have seen where you fit in and you can also classify where your co-workers, church mates or friends fit into. These help us in connecting and handling people that we lead and it also gives us a clue where other people fit in line with tasks given. As a leader you need to continue to learn these traits in people and acknowledge that disparities are part of the human factor. These differences are to be used to our advantage. Some strives are not necessary at all it’s only that we are different and we don’t know!

    Parting point: The famous Dale Carnegie in his book How to win friends and influence people says, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”. I chose the former; it has made me win as a leader! We need all personality groupings in any organisation and as the TEAM acronym say: Together Everyone Achieves More!

     Jonah Nyoni is an author, success coach and motivational speaker.
    Tel: 0772 581 918. Email: jonah@classicmail.co.za
    Web: www.jonahnyoni.wordpress.com

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