It take all Types to be a Good Manager

By Peter Urs Bender

Basic personality types have been recognized for centuries. But it has only been since the 20th century, beginning with the work of psychoanalyst Carl G. Jung, that we have recognized the value of understanding the human personality in more detail.

Some analysts divide personalities into sixteen or more categories. But most boil down to four major types. The ancient names for them are Melancholic, Choleric, Phlegmatic, and Sanguine. Thanks to David W. Merrill and Roger H. Reid, today we call them Analytical, Driver, Amiable, and Expressive. Other personality theorists use different names, including those of animals, colors, and numbers.

I'm not immediately concerned with the names of personality types here. Rather it's their personality qualities that are important, and how they should combine in any good manager.

For instance, the Analytical personality tends to be logical, thorough, disciplined and fact-oriented. Weaknesses involve being withdrawn, boring, quiet, and reclusive.

The Driver is a results-oriented, exroverted, strong-willed, direct, practical, decisive and task- rather than relationship-oriented. Weaknesses include being domineering, impatient, insensitive, and short-tempered.

The Amiable is devoted, dependable and loyal. He or she is a hard worker, persevering, cooperative, and tries hard to avoid confrontation. Weaknesses include indecision and an inability to take risks.

The Expressive is enthusiastic, outgoing, persuasive, fun-loving, and spontaneous. He or she is relationship- rather than task-oriented. Weaknesses involve lack of focus, a tendency to generalize, verbal assaults, and sometime even irrational behavior.

In my years of studying and analyzing boardroom presenters and top managers I have come to one conclusion: good managers are balanced. That comes from combining qualities from all four personality types, and working to eliminate or at least modify their weaknesses.

Today, the face of business and society is changing rapidly. Traditional patterns aren't working any more. For instance, both men and women now need to be gainfully employed. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But it is resulting in major changes both in the workplace and at home.

Traditionally, managers have encouraged employees to leave personal problems at home. But today, a productive manager is one who can help employees with problems both at work and at home. A productive employee is one who has both houses in order.

It's no longer sufficient to be a one-dimnensional manager. The ideal manager, leader, entrepreneur, is really a combination of the best qualities of all four of the basic personality types.

I describe this as managing with Rapport, as opposed to managing by Report. Men are great Reporters. Women are good at both, but they have a knack for creating rapport with employees.

In this respect, it's interesting to observe the differences between men and women. I have taught thousands of managers to "Present with Power" over the years. Yet never once have I had a woman who started her talk with a joke. When they begin a speech, they automatically try to link with the group. They instinctively realize that the most important element in any presentation is the bond of trust that must be generated between presenter and listener.

With Reporters it's a completely different story. They like to open with a joke. (If they're not good telling jokes one-on-one, they often think that with an audience of 30 people they'll be 30 times better. It doesn't work that way!) They also like to open with a very strong opinion-which puffs them up in front of the group. They don't realize they're missing an opportunity to build rapport, and hence trust, with their audience.

This ability to manage with Rapport puts women in a good position for promotion to senior management roles. But it can be difficult for women to rise to senior positions. That's because of perception. Men are more used to being thought of as managers. This tradition is hard to break. But it is slowly being broken, and the more it is, the more it will be, especially as more women prove themselves capable.

In the old days, the single-dimension businessperson was quite effective and sufficient. But in our changing world, we need more managers with balanced personalities, with the rapport necessary to encourage employees to be happier and more productive.

Think of those organizations in which regulation is a fact of life. They include banks, airlines, railways, postal services, military, police. All of these require certain standards to keep the organization functioning. It's very one-dimensional in approach.

There is one other factor that's key to successful managers. I call it Gutfeeling-instinct, feelings and intuition. It's as important as reason, logic and analysis, which are customarily recognized as necessary for business success. (For more on this, read my book Gutfeeling.)

Whereas in the past, the "rulebook" would have provided rigid guidelines, (and frankly inhibited action beyond that), today the preference is for more independent thought (within the guidelines if possible) but also based on instinct and intuition.

The sensitive touch, while not always rewarded as it should be, is much more highly valued today than before. It will become increasingly important as organizations try to change and respond to modern circumstances. It acts to soften the rigidity of guidelines without making them less important. The result is to encourage action rather than ordering it.

Under the old one-dimensional management model, managers could get employees to produce simply by ordering them to do so and by threatening dismissal if they did not. But it required constant one-on-one supervision, and the moment supervision slackened off, so did production.

Which model do you think is more appropriate for modern industry? Simon Legree may have been effective with the slaves, but he went "…down, down, to the Devil …"

I further believe that women are better at intuition-based management than men. That's because they are used to paying attention to their emotions and feelings, and include them in their overall decision-making processes.

Women can also be their own worst enemies, of course. I think it's a fact of human nature that once a person is admitted to membership in a small, exclusive group the tendency is to want to limit the membership to keep it exclusive. It's called "kicking away the ladder." Whether you're male or female, resist the temptation.

A good manager works without fear to train his or her replacement. When the time is ready or the opportunity occurs, that manager gracefully yields the place. No shame, no loss.

I like to say our past was perfect to get us where we are today. If we look back, the boardroom belonged to the boys. But I think it is merely a matter of time before Rapporters will outnumber Reporters in the boardroom. Not necessarily because we have more women in the management team, but because they took their positions seriously and have learned to quit kicking away the ladder!

Peter Urs Bender is one of Canada’s most dynamic and entertaining business speakers. He lives and works out of Toronto. He is the author of four best-selling business books: Leadership from Within, Secrets of Power Presentations, Secrets of Power Marketing, Secrets of Face-to-Face Communication, and Gutfeeling.
To read excerpts from his books visit