When I heard this story, I knew it provided a perfect example of a big personality taking over a situation.
A colleague of mine participated in a teambuilding exercise.
It was a virtual reality escape room which took place in the middle ages and offered three challenges: escape your cage, outwit an alchemist and kill the dragon before feeding time.
Together the team broke free of the cage, made it out of the apothecary and faced their last challenge –slaying the dragon.
My colleague immediately took control of the weapon while her team kept a look out for the monster. It took her a long time to realize handling the spear needed to defeat the dragon was not her strong suit. The group was on the verge of losing when she finally relinquished control to others who were more skilled.
My colleague has the personality of a lion.
Lions are very confident and self-reliant. In a group setting, if no one else takes charge, the lion will. Unfortunately, if they don’t learn how to tone down their aggressiveness, their natural dominating traits can cause problems with others.
For context, let’s review the highlights of the other animal personality types to help determine your own personality style.
Otters are excitable, fun-seeking, cheerleader types who love to talk. They’re great at motivating others and need to be in an environment where they can talk and have a vote on major decisions. The otters’ outgoing nature makes them great networkers. They usually know a lot of people who know a lot of people. They can be very loving and encouraging unless under pressure when they tend to use their verbal skills to attack. They have a strong desire to be liked and enjoy being the center of attention. They are often very attentive to style, clothes and flash. Otters are the life of any party, and most people really enjoy being around them.
One word best describes these people: loyal. They’re so loyal, in fact, that they can absorb the most emotional pain and punishment in a relationship and still stay committed. They are great listeners, incredibly empathetic and warm encouragers. However, they tend to be such pleasers that they can have great difficulty being assertive in a situation or relationship when it’s needed.
Beavers have a strong need to do things right and by the book. They are the kind of people who read instruction manuals. They are great at providing quality control in an office and will provide quality control in any situation or field that demands accuracy, such as accounting, engineering, etc. Because rules, consistency and high standards are so important to beavers, they are often frustrated with others who do not share these same characteristics. Their strong need for maintaining high (and oftentimes unrealistic) standards can short-circuit their ability to express warmth in a relationship.
Do any of these characteristics ring true for you?
Learning to work with different personalities takes skills and awareness. Do you ever feel run over by people with strong personalities and start to lose your confidence? Lion-like personality styles can be intimidating, but here are some tips to better relate to them, without losing your uniqueness.
Learn more about the uniqueness of strong personalities. They are wired differently than you, and they go through life with a different set of desires, needs, and idiosyncrasies that may seem foreign to you. Get up to speed on the best ways to get buy-in and to communicate with them.
Watch those who are wired like you but do not lose their personal power when conversing with lions. What successful techniques do they use?
More laser-speak, less back story. Lions appreciate you getting to the point and not bringing in stories or touchy-feely commentary. Slow down and be calculated with your conversation, especially if you tend to get chatty when you’re nervous. Match their direct questions with short, direct answers. While vulnerability is a healthy quality in leadership, these personalities respect strength first.
Display confidence, even if you are faking it until you’re making it. Since we train people in how we want to be treated, waffling or backing down gives lions the green light to take control and steamroll you. Stand in the strength of who you are and what you bring to the table and conversation. This might require doing your homework, mulling over how to arrive at a win-win or scheduling another conversation.
Speak up when your values are poked or trampled. Silence equals consent, and what gets rewarded (by our silence) gets repeated. Lions love when you say “yes” to their agenda, so validate their perspective. Brace yourself and learn phrases to offer a strong counterpoint. One might be: “May I push back on that for a moment?” or “Here’s something else to consider…”
Every person is wired differently. Learning how to handle a lion’s personality is only one of the benefits of understanding personality styles. Knowledge of your own personality strengths, communication style and work preferences enables you to leverage them effectively.
As a leader or manager, knowing personality types within your team allows you to tailor your approach and optimize performance.
Paul D. Casey lives in the Tri-Cities and is the owner of Growing Forward Services, which aims to coach leaders and teams to spark breakthrough success. He also is the executive director of Leadership Tri-Cities.
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