4 Personality Types that all Leaders Should Learn to Recognize

Different personality types work and communicate in very different ways. Learning how to identify and understand personality types based on common characteristics is a key component to effective, practical leadership.

The Golden Rule states: Treat others the way you want to be treated. While this is generally a good rule of thumb, the reality is that, as leaders, we often must break that rule in order to relate with the various personality types we are managing. Not everyone in the world communicates and reacts to their environment in the same way. Some of us enjoy basking in the glow of the limelight while others are very uncomfortable with public displays of praise situations.

In my experience, there tend to be four main personality types. I label them as analytical, driver, amiable, and expressive. Each of these personality types exhibit general characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses and need to be managed and communicated with in subtly different ways. Understanding the unique characteristics will help you successfully manage personality types to increase your team’s job satisfaction, performance, and reach organizational goals.

1. Analytical

The analytical personality type is very deep and thoughtful. They’re serious and purposeful individuals. They set very high standards, so they have very high standards of performance personally and professionally. Analyticals are orderly and organized. They also tend to have that really dry but witty sense of humor.

Analytical strengths are that they are perfectionists. They want things done right and they want them done right the first time. They’re neat and tidy individuals. Analyticals are economical, and they are self-disciplined.

Analyticals weaknesses are that they can be moody, critical, and negative. Analyticals can be indecisive and they over-analyze everything. Their perfectionism can also manifest as a weakness at times, as they can be guilty of making their pursuit of perfection stall completion.

2. Driver

Drivers are the dynamic and active personality type. They exude confidence and naturally gravitate toward leadership positions. They move very quickly to action, but they are not detail oriented. Drivers are great with the big picture—they’re visionaries and they see how we’re going to get to where we need to go, but they’re not always great at taking the interim steps needed to get there.

You can probably see how and analytical and a driver might not work very well together – but also that their skills can nicely complement each other. It can be said that if you want to get to the moon you hire a driver, but if you want to get back you hire an analytical.

Drivers’ strengths are that they are very determined individuals. They are independent and they are productive. Drivers get a lot of things done. They are visionaries and they’re decisive. A driver would rather make a bad decision than no decision. They just want that decision to be made.

On the weak side, the driver can be insensitive, unsympathetic, harsh, proud, and sarcastic. Drivers do not like to admit when they are wrong. They can also rush to a decision without thoroughly thinking through or understanding the results or consequences of their decision.

3. Amiable

The amiable personality type is a very patient and well-balanced individual. They’re quiet but witty. They’re very sympathetic, kind, and inoffensive—amiables do not like to offend people.

An amiable is easy going and everybody likes the amiables. You know why? Because they don’t like conflict so they’re very easy to get along with. They’re diplomatic and calm. But on the weak side, amiables can be stubborn and selfish. Their aversion to offence and conflict can also manifest as a weakness.

4. Expressive

We call the expressive the social specialist because they love to have fun. They are individuals who turn disaster into humor, they prevent dull moments, and they are very generous people. They want to be included. Expressives want to be included in projects. They want to be included on teams. They want to be included in conversations.

On the strong side, the expressive is very outgoing. They are ambitious, charismatic, and persuasive. On the weak side, they can be disorganized, undisciplined, loud, and incredibly talkative. Expressives can talk up to 200 words a minute with gusts up to 300. They can talk.

Of course, these are generalizations and many people will exhibit some amount of any number of these personality types. However, everyone will more strongly exhibit characteristics of one type over all the others. Recognizing and understanding which personality types you are managing on your team will help you motivate and communicate with them.

Managing personality types is a difficult part of our roles as managers. However, identifying and understanding how each personality type is motivated and how they communicate is a critical step in being able to effectively manage your team to success.