Guest Article - What’s Your Managerial Personality?

The General -

If you’re a General, you’ve got the most traditional management style there is. An office is like the military, and you are the senior officer in charge. You are the General Patton of the business world. You are in charge of everything. You are a complete and thorough autocrat. Your word goes. If anyone doesn’t do what you want them to do, or if they disagree with you, they’re gone. That’s because you know better than anyone else. Compared to you, Nero was a pushover. The upside is that things get done the way you want them done, and you are respected for your competence and achievements. The downsides? First of all, nobody likes you. There are also problems of staff morale, loyalty, and fear of you (which can inhibit performance). But perhaps the worst downside (and you won’t like reading this) is that because you won’t tolerate arguments, you also won’t get realistic feedback of things you need to know.

The Bureaucrat -

Congratulations; you are one of the most popular types of managers there is. You go by the book. To you, if it isn’t written down in a procedures manual somewhere, it doesn’t exist. Your entire focus is rules of procedures, standard procedures, paperwork (or its modern computer equivalent), and traditional ways of doing things. You evaluate everything and everyone by whether the proper procedures were followed. Upside? Stability, clear expectations, and everyone knows what to expect. Downsides? You guessed it: No room for creativity, flexibility, or response to needs for change. And, most important of all, you consider procedures as more important than results.

The Sidekick -

You are everyone’s pal, everyone’s best friend. Your concept of “team building is to have staff parties and other social events. You think that if you maintain good relationships with everyone and if they like you, then they’ll do their job. You hate conflict and disagreement, and you’ll do anything you can to smooth over the arguments and differences of opinion. You’re goal is to build a cohesive team of people who all appreciate each other. The upsides include good office communication, positive working relationships, and togetherness. One downside is that behind your back everyone thinks that you are weak and that you don’t take charge. And if there is something that has to get done that requires you to give a direct order, you can’t do it, because you think that you can’t give an order unless everyone likes it.

The Promoter -

You are a salesperson, missionary, and motivational speaker all rolled into one. You are convinced that if you can “sell” everyone on what they need to do, if you can give them a sense of mission and importance about the job, if you can get them to really “believe,” then they’ll do the job. And you are the chief cheerleader. Upside? Enthusiasm for the job? You bet. Downsides? How about the fact that you are a manager and that those who report to you are hired to listen to you and do what is expected. Nobody has an employment contract that says, “If you aren’t enthusiastic about the job, we don’t expect you to have to do it.”

The Expert -

You know the details of your job and everyone else’s. Everyone calls you “Doc.” You assume that people will listen to you as a manager not because the company says that you’re in charge, but only because you know what you’re doing. To you, being a “manager” is just bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo and game-playing. “Real” authority comes from knowing your profession. Upside? You will be respected and followed for your competence and your respect for others’ competencies. Downside? Sometimes people are required to listen to you because you’re the boss, not because of your technical knowledge. Otherwise, if they disagreed with your technical knowledge or have a different solution, they don’t have to listen to you.

If any one of these describes your personality on the job, you ought to keep in mind the upsides as well as the downsides. Also, realize that it is possible to adopt one of these styles in one situation and another style in a different situation where it is the most appropriate.

Dr. Sander Marcus is a clinical psychologist with the Center for Research & Service at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago. Specializing in motivational, career, and business areas, he has co-authored two books on underachievement and a nationally used sales test for hiring and training (The SalesAP, Sales Achievement Predictor). He can be contacted at, 312-567-3358.