It gives you a taste of how each of the Styles normally behaves and how their fear driven self- protective behaviors can create performance problems and interfere with training and development.
THE LEADER (ESTJ, ENTJ)
The Leader’s predominant need is to be in control. It doesn’t take long for you to recognize this Striving Style, as they confidently let you know what you should be doing and why. These assertive and decisive individuals seem to go through life defining their environment and everyone in it. Easily the most dominant and powerful of all of the
Styles, they know what they want and go after it with a sense of satisfaction. They approach everything they do as though they were born to be in charge and expect others to follow their lead.
Leaders are perhaps the most self‐confident of the Striving Styles. They enjoy taking charge and the ease with which they do so makes them seem like they were born to lead. They often end up in leadership roles because of their need to control their environment and everyone in it. They get pleasure from being in control and when someone else is in charge they don’t always trust them. Leaders don’t often doubt themselves or labor excessively over decisions, even if the decision turns out to be wrong.
Leader Style people have a predominant fear of feeling helpless or powerless. They can react negatively when told they need to improve their performance or they have to attend training. This immediately frustrates their need to be in control and masters of their own destiny. They prefer to identify what they need and suggest it to their boss. They can
end up resisting their own development when not included in the decision making process. Leaders will create power struggles with their manager, deciding that their boss doesn’t know what they are talking about. They might even go as far as to refuse to attend in team building sessions or training sessions. Should they go, they might sit silently, refusing to participate. The more helpless or powerless they feel, the more they act out.
During training Leaders will test and challenge the trainer or facilitator as they don’t easily trust others to know what they are doing. They can be intimidating, asking questions that challenge the competence of the trainer, looking for ways to discredit them. Their fear causes them to become increasingly aggressive and domineering to help them gain control over what is happening to them. Rather than showing their vulnerability and fear, they try to exercise control, becoming insistent that things be done their way, or else. Anger gives them the feeling of power and control temporarily, but it is just an avoidance of the fear they feel when they are not in control of the situation.
THE INTELLECTUAL (INTP, ISTP)
The Intellectual’s predominant need is to be knowledgeable. They have a strong need to accumulate information and gain insights into how things work. Cerebral, curious, with a strong need to appear competent, they work to understand things deeply and thoroughly. They seek careers and jobs where they establish
their expertise, where people come to them because of this status.
Curious, with a hunger for learning, Intellectuals use their minds to experience the world. They have a natural desire to make everything they come across, including people, into a perfect whole. They are non‐ judgmental and like to “live and let live.” They are accepting of the way others choose to live their lives and expect to be treated in the same fashion. They need the freedom to follow their interests or pursue a solution to a problem.
Intellectual Style people have a predominant fear of feeling ignorant or uninformed. To them, knowledge as power and they avoid situations where they aren’t the expert. This makes training and development challenging as they don’t want to appear to others as though they don’t already know. Despite agreeing with their manager about performance improvement goals, they will routinely avoid group training or coaching. These sessions often turn out to be a battle of wits with the coach or trainor. They will also avoid engaging in the training process when forced to attend. During training they opt out of the exercises or
find excuses to leave early. This can happen even though the subject is something they want to learn.
Because of their need to be knowledgeable, Intellectuals will read up on what they are going to be learning about before a training session so they appear to know as much as the trainer or facilitator. They fear being asked a question they don’t know the answer to leading to a loss of expert status amongst their peers as this frustrates their need to be knowledgeable and makes them anxious. They will also behave in ways that make them look as though they are experts despite knowing nothing on a subject matter. They will be dismissive of what the trainer is saying and appear arrogant and contemptuous of their peers. They are competing for the place of most knowledgeable and any situation they find themselves in where they don ‘t feels threatening to them.
THE PERFORMER (ENTP, ENFP)
The Performer’s predominant need is to be recognized. They are quick to engage and entertain, and their enthusiasm for what they are talking about is contagious. Performers need to be the “Star” in whatever situation they find themselves in. They can seem like different people to each person they know, adapting to suit the
situation. Because of their need for recognition, Performers strive to achieve whatever gets them attention in their particular social environment. Being average is an insult to them and they would rather be on the outside of a social group than just one of the crowd.
The Performer has an image of who they are and who they are becoming. This image is built on the vision and goals they set for themselves. The image is generally one of being the best at whatever is important to them―money, social status, sports, good looks or intelligence. Their need for recognition drives them to achieve their image and make it real. Goals excite and stimulate Performers and they are energized by working to attain them. Their appetite for success and recognition fuels their ambition. Then, once they achieve whatever they were going after, they create another image or set of goals to strive toward, bigger and better than the last!
Performer Style people have a predominant fear of feeling shame or embarrassment. As Performers enjoy being the center of attention, doing training and development with peers provides the opportunity to
show how smart they are. They spend a lot of time asking questions and telling stories and if the facilitator isn’t well boundaried, Performers can hijack the meeting. Performers are embarrassed when questions are limited by the trainer and demonstrate their upset by acting out in a dismissive fashion. They gain recognition by disagreeing or engaging in side conversations that are disruptive to the group.
Performers have a hard time with performance feedback as they tend to see themselves performing better than others see them. They get into power struggles with their managers as they see themselves as their equals. They will argue and question things both for attention and because they feel entitled to do so. Performers will also pretend that they agree with you as they want your approval, but then they just as often do what pleases them as they are usually very valued employees. They fear feeling the shame that they associate with not being the best or coming in first. They believe that it’s easier not to try than to be seen as a loser or second best as they find this to be a humiliating experience. This makes them dependent on winning to ward off feelings of shame.
THE VISIONARY (INTJ, INFJ)
The Visionary’s predominant need is to be perceptive. These people are motivated by the desire to understand and connect with the deeper meaning and significance of what they encounter in their daily lives. Whether it is a conversation about children or world hunger, Visionaries need to perceive—to
recognize and interpret what they take in—in order to create mental order out of random thoughts, impressions and experiences. Impersonal and independent in their thinking, they offer innovative solutions to both personal and practical problems. Visionaries offer an unusual perspective that can be profoundly intuitive and helpful.
Visionaries have the gift of seeing the way things can become. They are optimistic and enjoy an inner world rich with endless possibilities. They enjoy working to understand themselves and others, and they intuitively recognize the complexities of human existence. They believe strongly in the achievement of human potential, and their ideas and insights allow other Styles to look beyond the limits they set for themselves. They see that everything—words, plans, designs, ideas, even people—has room for continuous improvement. Optimistic and resilient, they set out to achieve their potential and help others do the same.
Visionary Style people have a predominant fear of feeling invisible or disengaged. With whatever they do, they need to have a clear picture of why and what the outcome is going to look like, otherwise they disengage. They have a need to understand the whole
picture and their place in it for things to make sense for them. When they can’t do see themselves as a part, they start to feel as though they are invisible and disengaged from what is going on. Their sense of self as connected to the greater whole feels threatened.
Feedback to them about their performance goals is usually something they already know. They have an orientation to continuous improvement and want to know what they need to improve on. They are intense when they are learning and their very pointed questions can cause the trainer or facilitator to be intimidated by them. It is their need to perceive that causes them to ask until they can clearly see what they are looking for. Should they not be allowed to ask questions, they feel invisible, disengage and stop participating. They have a particular fear around developing interpersonal skills as they have trouble picturing themselves behaving the way they are told they need to. They are negatively affected when told they are intimidating, too direct, or that they ask too many questions as it is through questioning that they see themselves as a part of the rest of the world.
THE SOCIALIZER (ESFJ, ENFJ)
Socializers have a predominant need to be connected. Charming and appealing, they generate feelings of goodwill and enjoyment wherever they go. They thrive when they are able to create harmonious relationships. Socializers believe in a social order and want to
know where they are in the ranks, what their role is and how they are connected to others. They do their best to rise to the top of the social hierarchy while maintaining their connections to others. Whether it is as an office manager, the principal of a school or the coach of the local skating team, they like to be the “Queen Bee” or the “King of the Hill,” with a people coming to them for advice and council.
Socializers tend to work in bursts of energy and have difficulty focusing on just one thing right to the end. Too much sustained effort on a task that does not involve people disconnects them from the source of their energy—other people. Their ideal work environment allows them the flexibility to make the most of these bursts of energy and does not penalize them for the lulls in between. They need to be able to “go with the flow” of their energy in order to do their best work while meeting their need to connect.
Socializer Style people have a predominant fear of feeling abandoned or socially exiled. These people have a need to help others and feel a loss of their connection when they have no one to help. They don’t like the way they feel when others try to help or
counsel them as it diminishes their connection through helping causing them to feel a type of abandonment. They need harmony in their relationships and they will go along with their boss when told they need training and development even when they don’t agree. They enjoy the camaraderie of group training sessions but may end up doing more socializing than learning. Socializers start getting anxious when they aren’t helping others so they often try to assume the role of teachers assistant. They want to be the one favored by the trainer or facilitator and will try to be helpful to them by clarifying instructions to peers and telling those who aren’t doing things properly what they should be doing, much to the annoyance of their peers.
Socializers take things very personally and they can be crushed by performance feedback that they didn’t see coming or hadn’t considered. They feel as though their boss is saying they don’t like them instead of trying to help them and they end up feeling abandoned. A performance discussion can lead to the Socializer putting their boss and everyone else in the deep freeze as they disconnect emotionally. They use emotional blackmail and distort what was done to them. They tell others how rude or insensitive their boss was, totally missing that their boss was trying to help them.
THE ARTIST (INFP, ISFP)
The Artist’s predominant need is to be creative. People of this Style have a pleasant, friendly outer persona that masks the intense, resourceful and powerful individual within. They seek authentic self‐expression in all that they do and are constantly searching for
opportunities to create. Artists feel compelled to aspire to the ideals that govern their internal worlds. They find their inspiration in beauty, originality and the desire to achieve perfection. The authentic expression of their creativity lies at the heart of all their actions.
In a world where most people find comfort in belonging, fitting in and conforming, the Artist Style person often stands alone, preferring independence and authenticity. Artists are free‐spirited and they try to organize their lives so that they can do whatever moves them. Artists gravitate towards careers within liberal organizations, where their creative abilities and individuality re recognized and appreciated, or at least tolerated. They tend to avoid jobs that involve duty, confinement or obligation. To impose these types of restrictions on the free‐ spirited Artist is like taking the wings off a butterfly—depriving it of its beauty and grace. Artists have their own special contributions to give to the world and they must be free to do this in their own unique fashion.
Artist Style people have a predominant fear of feeling invisible or disengaged from others. They are perfectionist with a tendency to exaggerate their
shortcomings. They are convinced that fundamentally they aren’t good enough are waiting for others to devalue them and treat them as though they are inferior. They tend to be anxious about their work and will react to negative performance feedback as though they have been wounded. Because they are predisposed to thinking they aren’t good enough they aren’t objective about the information that they are getting from their manager. Artists believe that they have to be careful all of the time, never doing anything to bother others or bring attention to themselves. They tend to keep to themselves and don’t easily fit into groups at work.
Artists feel anxious when they have to participate in group training as they might be proven inferior by something they say or do. They are hypersensitive in development activities as they fear being judged or criticized by their peers or their manager. They sometimes can’t even hear what they are being taught because their negative self‐talk is so unrelenting. While no one wants to look foolish or say something that may embarrass themselves, the Artist fears that they will show their fatal flaw and be exposed as the inferior human being they believe they are.
THE ADVENTURER (ESTJ, ESFJ)
The Adventurer’s predominant need is to be spontaneous. Their enthusiasm and excitement is contagious and their entertaining conversation is peppered with story after amusing story. These people are
action‐oriented and make things happen for themselves and the people around them. They have an attractive, friendly style and a talent for making even the most mundane events seem exciting. They live for the enjoyment of the moment and work hard to ensure the moment is never boring.
Adventurers are at their best when thinking on their feet. They approach most situations with open minds, never doubting that they will be able to figure things out as they go. They believe a solution is inherent in every problem and that by taking the first step they will come up with the right solution, even when they do not know what they are doing. They quickly get to the bottom of a situation and implement an effective solution. They don’t get hung up on anything that is outside their control and they rarely focus for long on anything depressing. They stay optimistic by moving on, leaving things behind when they prove too difficult or when they can’t figure out the solution.
Adventurer Style people have a predominant fear of feeling trapped or restricted. They do not like to be dominated, or to have expectations placed on them. They enjoy training and learning new things of a tangible nature and when the learning content is relative to the work they are doing. They become anxious when things are too abstract or they are
expected to discuss a concept or how they feel about something. Subjects that do not have relevance to their pursuit of pleasure simply bore them. They also fear the planning process as it traps them into living an already determined course of action. During training sessions, they can be disruptive, making comments that have no relevance or telling jokes that interrupt the facilitator. They will also be vocal about how “stupid” or “worthless” the training is in order to validate their inappropriate behavior.
Performance correction with this Style is often around their impulsive behavior or because they are always trying to find a faster way of doing things in order to meet their need to be spontaneous. They can have difficulty following processes and can interfere with productivity when they take actions without letting others know what they are doing. They always have a quality of restlessness about them and they like to “fly by the seat of their pants,” often stirring the pot just to keep things stimulating which is disruptive to others. Because the don’t often reflect on their behavior, they won’t admit the anxiety they feel when they are restricted in their movement or activities.
THE STABILIZER (ISTJ, ISFJ)
The Stabilizer’s predominant need is to be secure. They are the calm, quiet pillars of the community, the “rock” of the family and the “go‐to” person if
you need a helping hand. Stabilizers offer their quiet support in everything they do. Often deeply introverted, they reveal themselves by what they produce and build. They have a calm forcefulness that encourages people to rally around them, easily depending on them for no other reason than that they feel so solid. They rarely put themselves in the limelight, preferring to stay behind the scenes contributing in a steady, practical manner, all the while policing everyone to make sure things are done safely and correctly.
Stabilizers are responsible and committed to their work. They take on responsibility for whatever must be done, whether or not it falls within the scope of their jobs. They work well in any occupation that is stable, consistent and secure. They are willing to work extremely long hours to accomplish their work. If they make a commitment to do something, they will complete it on schedule, despite the cost to themselves. Taking the time to be social at work causes them to be anxious because they believe this is cheating their employers.
Stabilizer Style people have a predominant fear of feeling anxious or insecure. As these individuals seek security, their energy and focus goes into keeping things the same. Whatever they learn must have a direct relationship to what they already know, without skipping steps. They don’t like learning or trying new
things, nor do they like people they don’t know teaching them. They like their outer world to be predictable so it doesn’t create any emotional disruption inside of them. Performance feedback often focuses them on becoming more flexible or asking why they don’t take more training to get ahead. It is also suggested to them to take the time to build relationship with others. These “soft skills” don’t come naturally to them and they will resist these suggestions as it makes them so anxious to even think about it.
Change, uncertainty and the unknown are their primary fear as all of these things threaten their sense of stability and security. It isn’t that they can’t do what is being asked of them, they are more afraid of what they tell themselves will happen when they try to learn new skills. These people have difficulty using their imagination in an optimistic fashion and they tend to catastrophize instead. They imagine worse case scenarios, adding to their base of fear. During training sessions, these people look as though they aren’t really engaged. They don’t ask questions or participate in exercises because they are generally too anxious to do so. To others it looks like they are resistant or disinterested. They can frustrate facilitators when they don’t contribute or seem to participate.
RECOGNIZE FEARS THAT DERAIL PERFORMANCE & DEVELOPMENT
Needs and emotions drive our behavior in the performance the development process. They either enhance the experience for employees or shut it down. Employees that have fear or anxiety about their ability to learn or what might happen when they experiment with new behaviors in front of others can derail performance improvement processes with their resistance. How employees feel during and after training strongly influences whether they will experiment with and apply what they have learned. If they are anxious, embarrassed, or otherwise uncomfortable, these feelings will impede the success of even the most skillfully designed training program. It doesn’t matter what you tell employees about the experiences they are going to have. Should input from you be interpreted negatively, self‐protective reactions will kick in and employees don’t learn. They show up for training sessions but their goal is to survive the experience rather than trying new activities.
Assertiveness or the courage to face one’s fears isn’t just a set of tricks or strategies that can be “taught”; it only comes about through repetitive experiences. The experiences lead to a sense of self‐mastery and confidence, which helps employees to engage in their work and with others in new ways and enables them to take risks, to initiate productive action more often, and to contribute more value to the organization overall. The kind of trust and emotional security people need to develop must be cultivated in the organization so that fear of change—whether personal or organizational—doesn’t get in the way. . Facing a significant potential for failure and no clear benefit of success, many will simply choose not to engage.
STOP AVOIDING YOUR FEAR & YOUR EMPLOYEES WILL FOLLOW
Fear and anxiety negatively affect performance and learning. Most performance management and training and development programs fail to consider the emotional barriers to learning that fears present. We need to consider the whole person if we want to enhance the success of these programs, especially how people feel, their previous experience as a learner and what they need to feel secure in order to engage emotionally.
Fear is an emotion we all deal with, and how we handle it determines what kind of life we’ll lead at work and at home ‐‐ whether shackled by anxiety and dread, or empowered to conquer new challenges. Yet we spend most of our time trying to avoid fear, so we muddle along, rarely getting much better at the art of tolerating and mastering it. That’s a shame, because with a little effort we can find the courage to push beyond our comfort zone and tackle new worlds.
Understanding the brain (how it learns, the functions of the brain that people use in the learning process and the emotional needs and drivers of behavior and the fears and self‐protective behaviors that get in the way of learning) is critical in the performance and development process. We need to become more fluent in discussing fear and anxiety and then stepping out of our comfort zone to achieve our goals. Using the SSPS, we can shift to a new paradigm that includes the distinct personality styles of employees; how the brain learns; how emotions enhance learning; and how new information should be presented, taught, and rehearsed in order to achieve desired results.