Brian was mildly trepid about viewing the results of the Life Styles Inventory he had taken. Perhaps because his thinking and behavior were never charted he was nervous to see the results; or maybe he was worried that an objective view of his thinking style would reveal more about his personality than he was comfortable revealing. Whatever the reason, he was intrigued by the results. The results revealed things about him he didn’t know, confirmed suspicions of personality traits, encouraged changes to negative style trends, and otherwise provided a surprisingly accurate assessment of his thinking and behavioral styles.
Personal thinking styles
Brian’s primary thinking style was achievement (the 11 o’clock position in the circumplex), where he scored a 40, in the 99th percentile. His backup style was affiliative (the 2 o’clock position on the circumplex) where he scored a 36, in the 83rd percentile. Both of these styles, though surprisingly high are represented in his work and life. Since high school he was a highly motivated person, and has set realistic goals and attained those goals. His work reflects the achievement style as well; the consulting company started when he graduated high school is an example, and his upwards career path also demonstrates his achievement style. The high score for the affiliative style indicates people-oriented personalities that emphasize teamwork and cooperation. However, this personality trait alone won’t necessarily accomplish anything because it will focus on the relationships and teamwork but not push to complete tasks. Thus the marriage of high achievement and affiliative styles is efficacious in the leading of a team that works well, respects each other, and still accomplishes tasks in a motivated manner. The achievement and affiliative styles are often seen in a cross-section of executives.
Because the nature of the job of an executive is to lead people and sell the company’s product, these two traits are valuable because they aid the executive on the inside of the organization by giving them the aptitude to motivate people and be liked and respected, and on the outside of the organization they create and maintain key relationships with customers and potential customers (CITE SOURCE HERE?). From his results, Brian identified two styles that could be limiting to his effectiveness. These were the approval and conventional styles. For the purpose of this report, he chose the approval style as his limiting style though it was lower than the conventional style. More so than the conventional style, managers and leaders who fall into the higher percentiles of the approval style will tend to be less effective because of their leadership style. Brian identified with the approval style in that he did tend to feel insecure about his abilities, was overly concerned about being liked and accepted and was easily intimidated. An aspect of that style he committed to change was the feeling of insecurity as related to his abilities. He knew that if he was more confident he would be better prepared to become a manager or leader.
Impact on management style
Brian’s achievement and affiliative styles lend themselves well to management. As well, a mid-range score of 18 (38th percentile) for the perfectionistic style could be useful as a manager, because it demands a job well done, but also doesn’t derive self-worth from perfection and doesn’t rely on perfection to the point of wasting time and reducing productivity. These styles fit well into the following four functions of management: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling (Pakhare, 2007). Planning requires careful preparation and development of strategies and the achievement aptitude is excited and positively challenged to plan. However, too much perfectionism will reduce the productivity of a manager attempting to plan. Organization also utilizes the achievement, affiliative and perfectionistic styles in that organizing not only requires the motivation and drive to accomplish tasks, it requires people, and the affiliative style aids in bringing people on-board through relationship building.
The perfectionistic style, as previously mentioned requires that organization be efficient and effective, but the level Brian’s personality possessed isn’t enough to become overly perfectionistic. Leading could utilize Brian’s healthy dose of the humanistic-encouraging style. However, leading cannot be accomplished by encouragement and kind words alone. Thus, the affiliative style helps with the relationship aspect of leading, and achievement produces leadership by example. Finally, controlling involves solving performance problems and streamlining employee productivity as well as controlling costs and taking preventative measures when necessary. This is an area Brian’s limiting style of approval could be a problem.
The area of controlling is often not popular and involves some confrontation and situations where employees and colleagues will disagree. While controlling does tap into Brian’s strengths in achievement and perfectionistic styles, it will require making difficult and often unpopular decisions. Brian’s commitment to work on this area of his personality was important as he moves toward management. Overall, Brian has the aptitude and personality to be an effective manager. His personality isn’t free from faults, and as identified, the limitations of the approval style are plain, but time and effort will neutralize that threat to his successful management. General George Smith Patton, Jr. summed up Brian’s aptitude when he said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
Genesis of personal styles
Brian possessed the affiliative style from a young age. Even before his teenage years. he was carrying on meaningful conversation with adults, and spent much of his time around adults. This not only aided his ability to communicate effectively, it gave him a heightened awareness of relationships and the meaning and value of them. Throughout childhood and his teenage years, it was not uncommon to find Brian carrying on a conversation with an adult or engaging in an activity with an older friend.
When Brian was 17, his dad passed away suddenly from a rapidly spreading brain tumor. Brian, who had worked alongside his dad in a machine shop for many years, took over the running of the business until a buyer could be found. These six months began a lifestyle and mindset change for him. Suddenly, the meaning of providing for a family and work and responsibility became crystal clear, and Brian began planning his career, setting goals and getting educated. Even though Brian didn’t want to be a machinist, the sheer need to support the family and business drove him to continue, and this forced achievement soon sparked a voluntary desire to utilize his skills and personality traits in technology, his passion.
Brian’s moderate level of the perfectionistic style is likely genetic, balanced by his mother’s attention to detail and his father’s mediocre sense of perfection. It’s difficult to say where Brian’s higher approval style came from. He surmises that life experiences, and a naturally low self-esteem through his teenage years contributed. Both Brian’s parents were very conventional. Both his mother and father followed conventional ways of thinking, working and schooling, and it’s likely that growing up in that environment gave Brian the overly high conventional style.
Conclusion and reflection
Having never been portrayed by a personality test, Brian was surprised at the accuracy and relevance of the LSI. It not only showed accurate strengths, it showed weaknesses Brian agreed needed to be improved. While achievement and affiliative styles were high, so were approval and conventional styles, which Brian would like to lower. Therefore, Brian set a goal that using tools and strategies learned in GM591, he would make adjustments to his personality to improve his effectiveness. While not a manager or leader at the time of this writing, his 10 year goal to be a high-level manager or leader in the Information Technology field is realistic, and more creativity and less conventionality, and reduced need for approval from others has given him the insight and tools to make the changes necessary to achieve his career goal.
Pakhare, J. (n.d.). Management concepts – the four functions of management. Retrieved September 25, 2007, from http://www.buzzle.com/articles/ management-concepts-the-four-functions-of-management.html
Appendix A: LSI results
Note Student had a copy of their results here but I deleted to protect their confidentiality.