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4 Challenging Personality-types, and How to Lead Them Successfully

We’ve all encountered them….challenging people. Whether it is in the workplace, at social events or even in our own family we have inevitably interacted with people who are less than pleasant. Being around their personalities literally makes us want to “turn the other cheek” and avoid them at all costs. However, as a people leader, it is your responsibility to work with these team members to ensure they are personally productive as well as prevent them for de-motivating and destroying your entire organization. So what are some of the most common challenging personality types and how do you lead them successfully?

  1. Attention Hounds - These are the people who command all the attention in any setting in which they engage. Regardless of what is going on or who else is involved, these individuals will ensure that they are the ones that are recognized and seen as the most valuable. This personality type can be viewed as the narcissist because they want everyone to recognize how great and wonderful they are. In a work setting, attention hounds create friction because they make others feels unimportant and unneeded.

  2. Chicken Littles – You can spot this personality type by their anxious state. They are truly concerned that “the sky is falling” every time anything new is introduced into their world. These individuals resist change and convince their peers that they should resist change as well. In the workplace, Chicken Littles’ anxiety can be very contagious and can create a fear state across an organization very quickly.

Pass the buckers – I like to think of these as the politicians in the workplace. They are the masters of deflection – passing on everything that does not suit their needs. Whether it is a tough decision that needs to be a made, a critical action that needs to be completed, or a problem that arises, nothing and I mean nothing hard or negative is ever their responsibility. However, they are very quick to claim and own the good as they thrive on taking credit for a job well done. In the workplace, this personality type can destroy an entire organization because their team members will be demotivated and will actually find ways to sabotage every decision or action that is passed to them.

So how do you lead these individuals for their own personal success as well as the success of your team? It is all about influence and there are 3 steps to consider when dealing with any personality type regardless of how challenging they are:

  1. Be aware of and understand their world. As the leader it is your responsibility to take notice, not ignore, these individuals and their potential damage to themselves and your team. Almost all challenging personality types are simply a manifestation of the personal fear that the individual has with their own actions. Get to know these individuals by listening and asking questions you can uncover some of their fears and insecurities.

  2. Provide an alternative view of the world. Regardless of who we are, we all live in our own world. As a leader, you must help the challenging personality types to understand that there are different ways to operate in the workplace. Point out the impact of their actions on the rest of the team and suggest alternate ways of operating within the team.

  3. Engage in a positive “go forward” plan. Quite frankly, you must let challenging personality types know that their way of being is not effective for the team. Encourage them to step outside of their comfort zone and try new ways of interacting with others. Collaborate with these individuals to create a go forward plan that will help them interrupt and change the pattern of behavior that is not working for them or their team members.

When it comes to challenging personality types, the pattern of least resistance is usually taken…. Ignore them and it will go away. However, that solution NEVER works and actually causes more damage to all parties. The only way to lead challenging personalities is to work with them and influence them to interact differently. And when you take the time to do this, you, the challenging personality type and your entire team will be rewarded with more peace and productivity.

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