Getting to know you

Understand your personality and improve your work role

Brian Lawrence is an account supervisor for a New York City-based company that provides data systems support to advertising agencies. Easygoing and patient, he gives on-site seminars for agencies, bringing them up to speed on new or updated programs. When clients begin to shoot questions at him in rapid-fire succession, he doesn’t get flustered. “Rather than try to stick to a regimented format, I let them set the pace for the session,” he says. When new programs come out, certain agencies request Lawrence by name.

Are you as suited for your role at work as Lawrence is? Maybe you daydream about a management position but don’t feel you’re aggressive enough to handle it. Or perhaps your “tough cookie” exterior doesn’t lend itself well to working closely with others on group projects. How do you figure out which office roles are best for you?

Lawrence’s success at training others is a direct result of his knowing his own personality — and working in a job that makes the most of it. “Almost everyone I train is the opposite of me,” he says. His natural composure allows him to deal patiently with the more impatient type A personalities who compose most of his trainee classes. Lawrence is a classic case of “fitting the bill.”

Diane Turner and Thelma Greco, co-authors of The Personality Compass (Element, $12.95), suggest that certain personality types are better suited to particular roles at work.

To find out where you fit in best, you’ll first need to determine your personality type. Turner and Greco offer four: north (competitive), south (easygoing), east (methodical) and west (risk-taking).

While these types of classifications aren’t new, they can help you better understand why you behave the way you do. To identify your type and find out the best kinds of jobs for you, check out the two sidebars.

WOULD YOU RATHER…
a. Do a job you love, or
b. Chat for an hour or two with some acquaintances?

c. Help someone else look good, or
d. Take credit for a job well done?

e. Finish annotating a report that’s almost completed, or
f. Drop everything and go windsurfing?

g. Devise creative ideas for a large stage production, or
h. Draft a detailed “how-to” manual for first-year medical students?

Generally, Norths would choose (a) and (d); Easts would choose (e) and (h); Souths would choose (b) and (c); and Wests would choose (f) and (g).

GETTING TO KNOW THYSELF
Here’s a list of some of the traits common to the four personality groups. Remember that nothing is absolute and that you’re most likely a combination of two (such as northeast and southwest).

Norths: “Get the job done fast.”
Description: Make quick decisions and are good negotiators. Enjoy setting goals and meeting challenges.
Traits: Assertive, task-driven, competitive, self-starting, goal-oriented, confident, determined
Great jobs: President, director, pilot, police officer, coach

Souths: “Build the best teams.”
Description: Put others at ease and mediate conflict. Enjoy empowering others and volunteering their services.
Traits: Cooperative, patient, likable, good listeners, easygoing, kind, generous
Great jobs: Administrative assistant, family doctor/nurse, psychologist, social worker, teacher

Easts: “Do it right the first time.”
Description: Are accurate and factual. Quality

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