Leading People with Different Personality Types in the Military

Today, I want to talk about leading people with different personality types in the military.  As a leader, you will deal with many different types of people in the military.

I learned a long time ago that everyone is wired differently.  Bring 100 people into one room and you will have a wide variety of different personalities. Some people are laid back, some are analytical, some are hard charging, and others are extremely funny.

To be an effective leader, you have to have a basic understanding of the different personality types, so you can communicate effectively with each person that you lead.   In other words, it’s different strokes for different folks. You can’t lead everyone the same way and do it effectively.

Depending upon who you ask, there are four MAJOR personality types.  Most people have a predominant personality and a secondary personality.  The predominant personality might make up 50 to 75 percent of their personality, and then they typically have some combination of qualities from the other personality types.

Here are the four major personality types.

Red (The Lion)

Red personalities are risk takers.  They are strong leaders, strong willed, impatient, competitive, rational, driven, purposeful, aggressive, restless and touchy.  People with this personality type are typically the high achievers in sales and in business.

Blue (The Beaver)

Blue personalities are deep thinkers.  They are anxious, moody, pessimistic, quiet, deep thinkers, analytical, detail oriented, precise, reserved and systematic. This personality type often works as engineers and accountants.

Green (The Golden Retriever)

Green personalities are laid back and easy going.  They are controlled, reliable, careful, thoughtful, even tempered, calm, informal, easy going and easy to get along with.  This personality type can work in any job. Sometimes they are perceived as lazy because they are so easygoing.

Yellow (The Otter)

Yellow personalities are the social butterfly.  They are the life of the party.  They are expressive, sociable, optimistic, animated, fast paced thinkers, outgoing, talkative, carefree and lively.  These folks can be great entertainers, story tellers and practical jokers.

Leading Each Type of Personality

When you are leading someone with a red personality type it’s important to be short and to the point.  Stay on topic. Be logical.  Realize they like to be in control of the situation and that they are naturally competitive and driven.  Give them a task and stay the heck out of their way after you do that.

When you are leading someone with a blue personality type, focus on the details.  The blue personality types love the details.  Give them stats, charts, graphs and as much details and information as you can.  This type of person is typically a deep thinker, and enjoys processing the numbers and stats in their mind.

When you are leading someone who is a green personality type, try not to be confrontational with them.  Remember that they are laid back and easy going.  Try to be laid back and easy going when you approach them.  Be thoughtful and considerate when you talk to them.

Finally, when you leads someone who is a yellow personality type, please realize that they are people people.  They are outgoing and love to have fun.  They have tons of great ideas, but they get distracted easily.  Don’t give them too much information or try to stress them out.  If possible, make the task that you are giving them fun.

My Mistakes

I look back over my military career and boy did I make a lot of mistakes when it comes to different personalities.  I am naturally a red, so I like to be short and to the point.  I am driven, competitive and a natural achiever.  I set high standards for myself (really high) and I expect everyone else to naturally do the same thing.

If there is one thing I really regret, it’s that I didn’t take more time to work on my people skills.  I pretty much treated everyone the same.  I held everyone to the standards and goals that I set for myself.  In most cases, the people with the red personalities loved it, but often times the other personality types had a hard time keeping up.

Had I know what I know now, and applied this knowledge, I could have done a much better job to improve my people skills and relationships.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that everyone you lead is different.  Your job as a leader is to find out the personality type of each person that you lead and then come up with ways to communicate and interact with them effectively.  It will take some time and patience, but working on your people skills and finding out how each person is “wired” can make a big difference with the productivity and morale of the people you lead.

What do you think?  What is your personality type?  How do you lead the different personality types?  Leave a comment below to let us know what you think.  I look forward to hearing from you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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9 thoughts on “Leading People with Different Personality Types in the Military”

  1. It’s definitely the leader’s responsibility to assess the personality types and develop a strategy for leading them. I am a dual personality type – a red Lion and a blue Beaver. I enjoy leading and taking big risks for big rewards, but I also enjoy analyzing information and developing strategies. I think good leaders need a little bit of every trait.

  2. Personally, I see a huge mixture of these different personalities in myself, with red being the most predominate. I believe as a leader, it is our responsibility to study and learn each person we are leading. I believe in keeping a small notebook and jotting down the simple traits of each individual. Knowing basic things about each person can help us lead them, and when you remember small details about them, they will give you more respect.

    I like leading green personalities. Yes, they may come off as lazy, or not driven, but if you can make the chore one they enjoy and get pride in doing, you can bet the job will be done perfectly. I wish I could have a bit more green in myself at times.

      1. I must also mention that at times I believe we can be to involved in studying people and their personalities that we forget to treat people normally. This happens to psychologists often. We have to be very careful not to get over analytical, and treat people as humans. Just my opinion, but there is a fine line in how far we should analyze the people working under or over us.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this post myself. After serving in the U.S. Air Force and then being in school, and now being in electrical construction where I work with different people on a regular basis, I have made a lifetime of watching people.

    My dad taught me to watch people from an early age and learn to let them have their own opinion. That’s not always easy to do. Many get insulted when your opinion is not the same as theirs. That patience has to be learned.

    I am almost 50 years old now. I have always been easy going and mostly always outgoing, and have always enjoyed working hard. I get focused when I am working on something. I can take charge if needed, but I don’t have to be in charge.

    I have never really gotten upset with people unless they won’t work or if they are constantly critical of other people. Our words carry quite a bit of weight. We have to think about what we say, and how we say it.

    You mention the five love languages above. I have been married for 13 1/2 years, and the book I read on the five love languages is huge. People love the way they want to be loved without realizing it.

    To sum this up, you learn to listen more than you talk. You learn to make eye contact with new people quickly and basically with all that you talk to. A person who won’t make eye contact is telling you quite a bit.

    I enjoy helping people with things I can help them with. I enjoy encouraging people. I would rather be with people who want to help somebody succeed. If somebody is making an effort, I am on their side.

    Failure is an event, and doesn’t define anybody, unless they let it define them.

    Nobody succeeds without a certain degree of failure while they work on a goal.

    If you are leading people, you have to look for their strong points. Put people where they can use their talents. As best you can, also put people where they can make their weaknesses stronger.

    You would want them to realize they can do something that they had no confidence in before.

    Being in the service is the best place in the world to learn some of that confidence.

  4. Theresa Williams

    I love this. I’m naturally a blue (melancholic) person and get very caught up in the details. In college, I had a few green (phlegmatic) professors who just could not give me many details of an assignment (ie. “Your story is good but your main character really needs a bigger push to make it believable.” “What kind of push?” “A really big, life-altering one.” “But what would that look like?” “What do you think that would look like for your character?” *me in tears*). Actually, green personalities are probably the hardest for me to work with, with red (choleric) being easiest, and yellow (sanguine) being fairly easy also. I’m very intuitive of the people around me and I use this information and the 5 love languages to evaluate the best way to interact with the people around me all the time.

    1. Yes, The Five Love Languages is a great book and it helps a lot with people skills. Dealing with different personalities can be a huge challenge at times. When that happens, I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes when I can.

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