Personality profiling and team work

I can be guilty of assuming some values are universal. In the workplace, the notion that my workplace style ‘requires a manager who gives the freedom to do the job’ seems obvious, not something relevant to only one of eight broad personality types. I have spent time observing that this is quite the opposite in some cases, and that regular reporting is essential for job satisfaction, sense of direction and avoidance of undue stress.

I am also surprised at colleague perceptions of my style and my own perception – increasingly aware of the need to ‘dial up’ more empathetic qualities. I am confident that I don’t lack tolerance or sincerity, but am learning that it doesn’t jump out as one of my key leadership qualities.

Having worked through the Colour works profiling tool with several teams (my previous role, my current role with peers and with the whole organisation), I have not yet walked away without a greater sense of self awareness and a better understanding of how my time with colleagues can be more effective.

What is Colour works? 

The company introduce themselves as specialists in transforming performance in individuals, teams and organisations. They use a personal profiling tool to determine working behaviours and follow up with personal impact workshops. Profiles consist of a 50 sentence description of working behaviours, strengths and weaknesses of your personality type and tools for working with your ‘opposite’, among other reflections to develop team interaction, compatibility and ultimately performance.

Who am I?

I profile as a ‘reformer’. Of the 50 sentences I couldn’t disagree with a single one, although I do feel there is an oversight of my more compassionate and creative side. Like horoscopes, I can see clearly the working personality types that I work best with – it isn’t others most similar to me! Given the freedom, I gravitate to red/yellow personality types described as ‘motivators’. Between myself and a motivator we dream up ambitious plans and draw the right people in to make them happen. The downside is that there can very quickly be a lot to get done, and the energy of all of the people we assume will share our enthusiasm needs more than an idea and a plan to follow. Having a ‘determination to succeed’ is helpful, but can also be quite taxing.

It seems unsurprising that my profile type is summarised as:

  • Determination
  • Monitoring Performance
  • Discipline

…and that my role is Head of Performance and Information.

Who are my team?

I am very fortunate to have an even spread across both the Leadership Team and my own team. I can hatch plans, write strategies and set direction on the things that our much coveted evidence base shows are areas to focus on and know that I have the ideal support for factual information and analysis in an ‘observer’, a loyal team player in a ‘supporter’, a persuasive ‘inspirer’ and flexible and adaptable ‘helper’. The nature of our work means that strict management and planning is delivered through a ‘coordinator’, whose drive for organisation and alignment ensures we remain on track and will call out ‘mission creep’. Throughout the team, according to their own styles are a collective of diplomatic challengers who promote strong values.

Of course, at this high level the many other skills and qualities I depend on aren’t captured, but it does give me the ability to connect the required styles across the team  depending on the nature of task we are delivering. If I need a conscious style shift for a particular reason, such as dealing with a more formal meeting or selling a new idea, I have a way to address where the ‘dial up’ needs to be, as if we are speaking in a new but effective language.

How do you do it?

I can’t remember previously how I would have tried to adapt my personality to those I work with to raise trust and develop a better environment for productive discussions and consequential action. What do you do to relate to people that you don’t gravitate towards? Do perceptions of you match perceptions of yourself? Have you used a different tool (such as Myers Briggs), and what have the results been?

It is within my characteristics that I don’t like to be told about others perceptions of me, and so I have had to keep this in mind when receiving statements about my working style from others in a perceptions exercise. In this context I am comfortable enough with the difference to show you the difference between how I see myself, and how others see me. I have participated in this with several different groups, the outcomes are relatively similar.


Who I think I am… These are cards from the original deck that I kept as things that describe me. Everyone’s deck is different, although there are some duplicate cards.


How others perceive me: Cards that were given to me by others in my organisation

Bringing it all together

My profile allows me to be articulate about how I approach work, what I am striving for, how I am motivated and what I need most from others. I find the detail and tools from the exercise particularly useful. I plan to work more on showing colleagues that I do care about them beyond work and also to demonstrate more of my creative tendencies which I value greatly. I would love to know what benefits you see from taking time to understand yourself and colleagues, what makes you tick and what challenges does this bring?


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