Personality Types Matter to Strategic Planning

Diverse leadership styles at the table is a valuable approach when you are developing your organizational strategy.

There are risks: conflicts can arise due to personality styles; if one style dominates it may affect the successful completion of the work. A blue-sky dreamer can steal the show, painting a picture of the future without a plan to support it. A detail-lover can mire the process in what others perceive as minutiae. The overly analytical can bog the team down by studying the implications of every scenario. Those who are risk averse won’t welcome uncertain new directions or even abandoning old ways. And of course the people-pleasers who want to satisfy everyone ultimately stand for nothing.

On the positive side:

  • The dreamer/visionary allows us to see the future in new ways. Like Henry Ford said, “if I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses!
  • The detail-oriented and analytical help us avoid the “ready-fire-aim” thinking that too often pervades business. One common reason strategies fail: we simply haven’t thought through all the consequences.
  • Risk aversion also helps us think through consequences. The tried and true are that way for a reason. Balancing conservative thinking with the boldness to be progressive is good risk mitigation strategy.
  • The consensus builder will often carry the day by tipping the momentum of decisions in a manner that allows progress to occur.

One other important personality trait needs consideration in strategic planning. It is well documented that “driver” personalities often gravitate to leadership. Their assertiveness, competitiveness, and extroversion mean their voice gets heard more than other stakeholders. And being the boss gives them more than an equal vote on decisions. Clear ground rules going into strategic planning, or better yet, using an external facilitator, help to ensure a stronger outcome where everyone feels heard, which contributes to buy-in.

One useful tool is a good personality assessment like Prevue. Measuring the various personality attributes of those who are participating in the strategic planning process, including senior leadership, helps alert individuals to their own traits. A skilled facilitator can conduct exercises that enable participants to better understand their colleagues on the team.

Invariably people have diverse personalities and they must be the ones who plan and execute your organization’s strategy. Consider personality in your strategic planning process: it is critical to your success.

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August 2, 2019

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