What Kind of Leader Are You?

What Kind of Leader Are You?
June 26, 2024 Rob Artigo
In Podcasts

Effective leadership is about being a people person, not about people pleasing. In this Tough Things First podcast, Ray Zinn wonders if a better understanding of your own leadership style can help you communicate better with different personalities.


Ray Zinn: Hello there, Rob.

Rob Artigo: Your idea was, what kind of leader are you? And I bet the listeners are wondering, how could four colored squares help them understand their leadership style?

I looked into this, and there’s this guy whose name’s Don Lowry, and he developed a system called True Colors. There are a couple of different iterations or versions of this kind of thing out there, and some of this is based on other versions of this. So I’m not saying that this one is the end-all, be-all, but to understand sort of the origins of it, this particular one that we’re using here, Don Lowry developed the system, True Colors, and it uses four primary colors to designate personality types and behavioral styles. And what we want to be able to do is find out what can we glean from that about our leadership styles individually and where the crossover exists.

 Rob Artigo Cont: So the colors in the picture that we have on the desktop are blue, red, yellow, and green. But actually, let’s translate that and we’ll just call them orange, gold, blue, and green. And the red will be orange and the yellow will be gold, just to make sure we keep things on track here. So there is obviously a lot more we can cover here, but we just can’t cover it here because it’s just not long enough as a podcast. But it is a personality test, so you can Google it and actually find a test, a version of this, and if you look up the one that is this True Colors, you’ll actually be able to take an online test and figure out where things go. It’s helpful, I think.

If a person’s brightest color is gold, then they tend to be steadfast, loyal, traditional, a rule-follower or a rule-maker, parental, orderly, structured, punctual and precise. And those are some of the things we talked about in a previous podcast. I think this sort of sounds like you, steadfast, loyal, traditional, a rule-follower or a rule-maker, parental type, you’re orderly, you’re structural, you’re punctual, and you’re precise. Would you agree with that assessment? Do you think you’re falling more into the gold category?

Ray Zinn: Well, yeah, I guess. But that’s not the purpose of this podcast. It’s to talk about what kind of a leadership style that we have. Not that any one of them is bad or the other ones are good, it’s just that we need to recognize what kind of a leadership style do we portray. So the ones on the right side of that chart, what we call the hotter colors-

Rob Artigo: Yeah, the blue and the green.

Ray Zinn: On the right side.

Rob Artigo: Oh, I’m sorry, on the right side. I apologize. My dyslexia is getting me.

Ray Zinn: Yeah, so on the right side, those are the hotter colors. We talk about the cool colors tend to be less dramatic, and then the ones on the right are more dramatic and what we call the hotter colors. And so on the right side of the chart, you’re more of an extrovert in personality, whereas on the left, the cooler colors, you’re more of an introvert. And so, as I said, there’s not necessarily any good color or bad color. They’re just colors, and they represent really kind of, in the psychological test that you can take, kind of represent what kind of a leader you are.

And if you recognize the kind of leader you are, that will help you as you lead and direct and manage in your company. Try not to be something you’re not. In other words, if you tend to be more introverted, so you are more cool in the way you view things, then use that to your strength or your advantage. On the other hand, if you’re more of an extrovert, you’re more outgoing, more deliberate in the way you view things, more ones and zeros, as you would, as opposed to the other, which is more in between, more gray area.

So on the left side or the left of the chart, more introverted, you’re more gray. In other words, you don’t view things in black and white, whereas on the right side or the more harsh colors, as you would, you tend to be more black and white, more ones and zeros. That’ll help you as you understand your leadership style. That’ll help you become a better leader.

As I said, I’m going iterate this again, it’s not that one is better than another or one is bad and something is good. It’s just that we need to understand our leadership style so that we can do a better job in influencing those that we’re in charge of supervising.

Rob Artigo: I think you can also see by looking at the various personality types that some of these things carry over. For example, we have green and gold here. You have the introvert on the left and the extrovert on the right, which is the gold color, the hotter color. But they’re both people who emphasize feelings and they’re relationship-oriented. Both the introvert and the extrovert have those shared elements. And what you can learn from looking at the different elements is you can see which color is your dominant color, but you can also see where you have things in common with some of the other categories and really realize that maybe you have a broader base.

Doubt anybody takes this test and finds out that they’re high-scoring in the hot orange or red color and find out that they’re zeros on all the other colors. They’re going to cross over here and there. And it is of value when you’re trying to figure out self-knowledge, which is something that you talk about a lot, and understanding yourself and your leadership style. This is just another tool to do that.

Ray Zinn: The people that you supervise are also one of the color points on that chart. So if you’re dealing with an extrovert, one on the hotter side, that your leadership style should be to understand that and use that to your advantage, and vice versa, on the left side or the cooler side, if that person’s more introverted. You need to understand how they are and what kind of personality they have because it will help you as you manage them and lead them in their responsibilities.

So this is not just a chart for leaders, this is a chart for everyone to understand who we’re dealing with, why we’re dealing with them, having the understanding of their personality. And so, again, if you’re an introvert and you’re supervising an introvert, that makes it easier. But if you’re an extrovert supervising an introvert, or vice versa, if you’re an introvert supervising an extrovert, that’s important for you to understand that because you have to deal with that personality.

Rob Artigo: Right. Yeah. You don’t want to expect the other people to automatically understand your perspective. You have to be able to approach it or tailor your interactions with people so that you can better communicate with them based on their personalities. That’s intel, as they say in the military world, that you understand the people that you’re communicating with have certain personality types, and this is the way to approach them. It just means that you’re approaching it logically.

Ray Zinn: Yeah. The purpose of this podcast is really to have you consider exploring what kind of leader you are and then what kind of people are you leading. So I would encourage you to understand what your personality is and also the personality of the people you’re supervising, and that will help you then become a better leader is that understanding, being kind, gentle, persuasive, and being empathetic is a natural thing for all colors. You don’t have to be obnoxious and dogmatic just because you’re on the extrovert side or the red side, as you would. And nor do you have to be so mamsy-pamsy, “Let them do whatever they want,” if you’re on that left side, more of a liberal, kind of a quiet, liberal type of a view, more introvert-ish.

So it’s good to really understand who you are and understand who they are, and that’ll help you then become a better leader.

Rob Artigo: Yeah, and there are lots of ways of looking at this that help you understand your own personality, but also as your leadership style is, and also understand the people around you because you can make positive adjustments if you just understand the environment you’re working in.

Ray Zinn: Yeah. Being cognizant of their personality and also of your personality will help you as you migrate through this leadership style that you need to have as a leader in your particular organization.

Rob Artigo: Well, Ray, this is a fast-growing podcast, and listeners are helping us grow by leaps and bounds, one of the top in Silicon Valley as a podcast and we’d like to keep it that way. So our listeners can check into their favorite podcast platform and give us a rating of four or five stars, whatever they are offering. And also, check out Ray’s books, the Zen of Zinn I, II, and III, and of course, Tough Things First. I look forward to the next time, Ray.

Ray Zinn: Thanks, Rob.

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