Personality and resilience do correlate, but it is not the whole story. Simon Phillips explores this important relationship and how it works.

The relationship between personality and resilience has been at the top of my mind recently. Primarily, because a number of our clients have been asking about it when we have been running Clarity4D workshops with them. It’s not a new question. In fact, the question came up so frequently we developed a whole mini workshop around it called ColourMeResilient. However, since about March 2020, the question seems to have come up time and time again. I’m not sure why?!?!? Is there something going on I need to be aware of?

How Personality Is Measured

The truth of the matter is, the pandemic has affected different people differently. The question is, does personality play a part in that?

We use Clarity4D to help leaders of change understand how to flex their communication to get the best out of the people around them. Many of you will be aware of the style of personality profile it is. Following a series of questions, the online machine produces a great report identifying your preferences.

  • Do you respond to situations in an extrovert or introvert way?
  • When making decisions, does your mind or your heart prevail?
  • Do you gather information through your senses or your intuition?

Clarity4D Model

All of these questions result in a relatively unique mixture of preferences. These preferences play out in our day to day lives. During the lockdowns, a knowledge of preferences would have assumed;

  • Introverts are loving the opportunity to work from home.
  • Extroverts are missing the personal interaction and the buzz of the workplace.
  • The isolation is feeling a bit overwhelming for those with a “feeling” preference.
  • Thinkers are happy in their heads and find it easy to keep themselves amused.

However, assumptions can be misleading. I know a number of Introverts who are missing the opportunity to go into the office. I also know some “thinkers” who are over-thinking and struggling to maintain a positive outlook. So why do we use personality tests and make broad statements at all? The reason is simple, having a fundamental understanding of how someone prefers to operate can provide a quick route into how to support them. It can break the ice if we know someone prefers a functional greeting to a warm, friendly, greeting. It can also save us a lot of time if we know another person prefers the headlines to the details.

The Movement Between Personality and Resilience

When it comes to feelings of stress, the opportunities to help are magnified. The first task is to not just ask people how they feel, but how they feel when they’re in flow. What words and emotions come to mind when they are, in Aristotelian terms, “in their element”! The following table is a useful guide.

ColourMeResilient view of Clarity4D

Typically, people will be able to pick one colour from the four blocks on the left to identify their feelings when things are going well. This is useful to know. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to tell when that great Director is on their game. The right hand side works differently. Not everyone who is Expressive, Enthusiastic, Talkative and Dynamic will flip to Frantic, Act-before-think, Overly Verbose and Shallow behaviour when they are experiencing stress. Some will become a bit Stubborn, some maybe a little Overbearing. The key is to communicate. Ask them where they typically go when the stress begins to build. Knowing this will enable you to look out for the symptoms and help them realign with their more free-flowing self.

The Key To Resilience

The relationship between personality and resilience is equally straightforward and complex. The complexity emerges from the fact that everyone is different. Personality tests are great for developing excellent communication skills. They’re fantastic for helping teams to bond. However, they do not disguise the fact that everyone is a lovely, unique, mixture of all four personality types. More importantly, the relationship between personality and resilience is not definitive. As I highlighted, some people respond to increasing levels of stress in ways contrary to their preferred behaviour when they are free of stress.

There is one extra element we need to acknowledge. Whilst personality can get us into a conversation, it is the conversation itself that will bring real benefit to those around us. I spoke to one CEO client of mine this morning and asked her what had helped most in reinforcing resilience in her workforce during the lockdown? She pinpointed showing a genuine, personal, interest in her staff had made the biggest difference. It is a unifying personality trait that we all respond well to genuine well-intended behaviour. If someone is interested in us, we naturally feel a bit better and more able to get on with our day.

Who have you not checked-in with in your team today? How are they feeling? Do they have all they need? What difference would a call make to their day?

Next Steps…

How is your team doing right now? We have a lot of experience supporting teams and leaders of teams to get through these tough times.

Simon PhillipsContact Simon at [email protected]

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