Personality quizzes abound on the Internet these days; you can find out everything from which Disney Princess you are to what type of fruit you would be. But there is a serious case to be made for how your personality type influences your work. It affects how you manage others, develop leadership skills, approach conflict resolution, and manage change.1 Understanding your personality type assists in identifying your strengths, weaknesses, and areas in need of development.
My personality type is ENTP: someone who is “resourceful in solving new and challenging problems.”1 At many points in my career, I found myself in a leadership role. But truthfully, I never set out to be a leader—my career goals set me on that path. You might call me an “accidental leader.”
Recall my story about the founding of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP; see Part 2): In the beginning, we were all encouraged to contribute whatever time and energy we could to getting the organization off the ground. I had plenty of time and energy to give. I saw the need for an NP-dedicated organization as a challenge. While I did not know my personality type at the time, I understood that I had a drive to meet challenges—those arising from the status quo and those of moving the vision for this new organization forward.
Our leadership skills are derived from everyday experiences—both the good and the bad. But we only grow if we study the consequences of those experiences to gain insights and to find new ways to manage ourselves and the team.2 Understanding your own personality and skills helps you better appreciate the differences in those you lead and understand how to direct or utilize their particular skills.
Each team member brings a set of skills, range of ideas, and problem-solving approaches to a unique situation. You should identify your team members’ strengths and promote a culture in which the whole team feels comfortable, confident, supported, and encouraged to contribute.3
How do you do that? By initiating and maintaining effective working relationships within the team and demonstrating skills in care coordination and delegation. Everyone benefits when each team member’s unique abilities are used to progress toward the goal.
In my experience, a team is most effective when the leader
- knows each team members’ professional and personal goals
- sets real priorities and commitments
- establishes clear direction
- builds rapport
- is fair with everyone
- shares knowledge and resources
- mentors others to become effective leaders.
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