Know The Two Sides of Your Strengths

My son Willi is a very good lacrosse player.  He has an awesome right-handed shot which most goalies can’t stop. I doubt that Willi will ever be able to throw the ball as hard left-handed as he does righty, but with lots of practice he might reach 80% proficiency. To be able to pass and shoot well both right and left-handed is a unique skill that most lacrosse players don’t possess.

This is the same situation with skills and behaviors in the workplace. Let me explain what I mean using the PDP behavioral intensity chart you see below.

You see that the PDP assessment measures four key behavioral traits:

  • Dominance: the take charge trait
  • Extroversion: the people or social trait
  • Pace/Patience: the relationship to time trait
  • Conformity: the systems and structure trait

Interpreting The Chart:  Plotted on the behavioral chart is a person’s (lets call him Joe) profile.  The shaded area defines the trait given its distance from the “Midline”. The further away from the midline – either to the north or to the south – the stronger this trait becomes and, the easier it is to recognize in a person.  The closer the trait is to the midline, the more flexible and adaptable this trait is, and the harder it is to identify in a person.

The better Joe understands his own profile, and also what the exact opposite of his behavioral traits are, the more successful he can be.  Here’s an example of what I mean:

From the trait chart we see that Joe’s extroversion is a bit low.  This is a problem because Joe is a consultant and needs to generate new clients on his own.  One way that he does this is by going to networking meetings.  Joe hates going because he feels that this is a very artificial and superficial way of meeting and getting to know a person. But hey, if he wants to put food on the table he’s got to go with the flow.

Joe’s on his way to a big networking event at the City Holiday Inn. They are expecting between 200 and 300 people.  Joe probably won’t know anyone there.

Joe arrives at the hotel, turns off his car and sits there just reflecting on what the next hour will be like.  He’s dressed well, he’s got a pocket full of business cards but, how should he act when he enters the conference room?  What behavioral will lead to a successful outcome?  Well, if Joe could look at the trait chart he would see that the exact opposite extroversion trait from his own would mean that he were: friendly, enthusiastic, social and optimistic.  No need to discuss last week’s failures at this meeting.  And by the way, this meeting is only an hour and Joe can push himself to do almost anything for an hour. After that, he can relax again and be his own self.

Here’s another example:  Joe is preparing for a meeting he will have tomorrow with a very difficult, even abusive client.  He is not looking forward to this meeting.  The client really likes to take advantage of him, almost as if it is a game.  So besides having his power point in order and materials prepared, Joe needs to get in the right frame of mind for this short meeting.  He knows that the client is a very high dominant individual while he himself is more in the area of collaborative, agreeable and even modest.  But tomorrow he will put on the armor and go into battle!  This means that he must really push up his dominance trait, just for 30 minutes, to meet the client on his own playing field.  Joe’s going to be assertive, decisive and self-assured. If the client pushes too hard, Joe will have the courage to say “no”, I’m not willing to go there, even if it means we lose the business.

By demonstrating this type of behavior, Joe is telling the client, “I’m someone you need to respect, I’m not a push-over”.  It won’t be easy, but Joe has studied the behavioral trait chart and is ready to win the battle. And, the meeting will last only 30 minutes, max.

So the better we understand our own behavioral traits, and are willing and able to embrace the exact opposite traits which are natural to us, the more successful we will be professionally and personally.  This doesn’t mean we need to change who we are, just be able to adapt for that short periods of time to increase our rate of success.