Do you remember that scene in Jurassic Park, the original (and best) of course, when Dr. Ian Malcolm played by the talented Jeff Goldblum was explaining chaos theory using drops of water dripping down Dr. Sattler’s hand? Despite dropping the water in the same place each time, subtle, unseen variables shifted the way each drop would travel down the hand. Chaos theory shows how complex systems are extremely sensitive to slight changes that can have potentially significant consequences. Some clever foreshadowing of how the park creators were playing with fire.

After all, who knew amphibian DNA would contribute to uncontrolled dinosaur population growth? Who predicted that the annoying Seinfeld neighbor would double-cross everyone, turn the power off of the electric fences, and let the carnivores loose on the unsuspecting visitors? Who remembers that Samuel L. Jackson was in that movie? And who knew 29 years later we would still be watching new Jurassic Park movies?

Well, that’s just it, isn’t it? It’s not possible to predict everything, especially in a wonderfully diverse, complex, and often confusing world.

People, like drops of water and artificially created dinosaurs, can be driven by subtle, unseen variables on any given day. People are complicated, we are complex systems. We have emotions, pressures, joys, ambitions, fears, and even everyday trivial details or mishaps that might shift how we react to or perceive a situation. It can be overwhelming, especially if you are leading those people. That’s why it’s important to use all the tools and information at our disposal. Some behaviors and motivations are predictable, maybe not 100% of the time, but close enough that tapping into that knowledge will give you a competitive edge and a leadership advantage. And I predict we all want that.

The best place to start is by understanding ourselves as leaders. If we only go so far as to understand our people, we are missing a key piece of the puzzle. Granted, we should not be leading strictly by how we would want to be led, but recognizing our own personal motivators and drivers can help us pivot more easily to meet the needs of our teams.

Putting Personality Science to Work for You

The Omnia Assessment is a short, yet powerful tool that allows people to freely describe their most comfortable personality traits. We use an 8-column bar graph to visually show an individual’s personality traits in 4 areas – Assertiveness, Sociability, Pace, and Structure. The odd-numbered columns represent active traits while the even-numbered columns represent passive traits. And the combinations contribute to Omnia’s 17 personality groups.

Here’s a look at our data behind leadership.

Assertiveness: Columns 1 and 2 measure level of assertiveness. Many successful leaders, especially if they are directly overseeing a large group of people, have a tall column 1, representing a high degree of assertiveness and leadership drive. Individuals with a tall column 1 are assertive, action-oriented, ambitious, and take charge. They are comfortable driving results, managing conflict, promoting resourcefulness, and implementing goal-oriented solutions as they coach/mentor a team. Through their assertiveness, they show a high level of ownership by taking command of activities.

Sociability: Columns 3 and 4 measure sociability which points to communication and problem-solving style. Some leaders have a tall column 3 representing a naturally outgoing communication style and an intuitive problem-solving style.  They are motivational leaders who are highly sociable and verbally engaging. They have strong networking aptitude for building and sustaining strong relationships.

Though many leaders exhibit a high level of gregariousness, they also have a high level of assertiveness, which prevents them from having an overly friendly leadership approach. As long as their level of assertiveness is taller than or equal to their level of gregariousness, the leader can effectively establish an authoritative role instead of always needing to be popular with the team. When those traits are not in alignment, individuals can place a greater value on maintaining their friendships than on getting results; a debilitating problem in many leadership and sales roles.

Some leaders have a tall column 4 representing a naturally analytical problem-solving style and a direct, fact-focused communication style. They are resourceful, often serious leaders who get to the point and are always looking for problems to solve. As a result, they don’t always focus on the motivational needs of the team, not because they don’t care, but because they are searching for practical ways to improve.

Pace: Columns 5 and 6 measure pace. Often, we see leaders with a tall column 5. Column 5 individuals are fast-paced and multitasking; they have a strong sense of urgency and tend to be effective pacesetters for their team or department. They make the most efficient use of time and maximize productivity. They thrive in a deadline-driven environment and can handle the interruptions and shifting priorities of a busy corporate environment and large reporting staff.

Structure: Columns 7 and 8 measure structure. Overall, leaders have a tall column 7, which represents a low need for structure. Individuals with a tall column 7 are independent, innovative, and unruffled by setbacks. They have a natural aptitude for thinking outside the box. Column 7 leaders take criticism and rejection in stride (they have a lack of discouragement/strong resilience). They can manage around ambiguity with ease and tend to focus on the big picture versus the details.

While perhaps not as exciting as mapping dinosaur DNA, knowing the data behind successful leadership is a key to goal achievement, increased productivity, and better engagement with your team (as opposed to a recipe for destruction and mayhem). You can use this information to assess your personal leadership style, as well as your team’s tendencies, strengths, and challenges.

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