What’s your leadership personality?
When you look at your work, what helps you? What hinders you? Is it people around you? If so, what archetypes could their personalities be playing out?
I was chatting with a friend recently about leadership personalities.
We talked about people in her fundraising office who have a problem with being micromanaged by a leader.
And they’re too afraid to talk with this leader about it!
She said, I’m tired of them complaining to me, and I’m tired of them not doing something about their problem!
What could they be playing out?
According to Blevins’ book, Your Family Your Self, (1993) these are some roles that people play out at home (and of course, also at work!
Here are 15 masks you might wear at work.
Hero-A lot of fundraisers have this one! Swoop in and save the day! Whenever there’s a crisis, here comes the hero to raise the money, or schmooze a funder, or get an emergency infusion of cash to keep the organization going one more day. People may secretly resent the hero.
Blamer– Who is to blame? There’s always someone to blame when something doesn’t work out. So this person will point out whose fault it is. This can be the ED to the fundraiser.
Star– Have you ever worked with a star? This is someone whose inadequacies are minimized and mistakes are ignored. And they generally perform at a very high level. People might respect or resent this person. Maybe a star grantwriter? Or a star major gifts officer?
Scapegoat– This person will accept the blame when things don’t go well. I have definitely played this role! So have people in my office. We often take the blame when we don’t need to! If we had a culture of philanthropy, everyone would be responsible for fundraising! And that’s as it should be.
Rebel– They are often good at one difficult task, but they dress differently, and don’t follow the rules. They think differently than others. I think specifically of Lisbeth Salander of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. She’s anti-social and doesn’t seem to have any understanding of social niceties, but she’s SO GOOD at her job that people just let her be herself without too many consequences. I used to play this card at my last job. I would get my work done, and do it really well, but I didn’t want to dress up for work. And I didn’t want to sit in staff meetings. And people let it slide.
Martyr– This person endures constant suffering, to get and keep a certain kind of attention. I remember a co-worker who was so good at events but they just kept piling more events on, and she would complain a lot, but she would just work harder and harder.
Distracter– They are here to shift attention away from our most frightening or challenging problems. They find other things for us to focus on.
Cheerleader– This person does not take risk or get involved in anything difficult. They do encourage others to take action. But mainly they stay on the sidelines. Oh. I think we’ve all had board members like this!
Jester– They are the constant joker! They relieve tension, and distract the team from difficulties and problems. They can be annoying or fun. Have you ever had a co-worker like this?
Invalid– This person is often sick, so that they cannot take on or complete difficult assignments. Additional stress is just too much for them. So they get away with a lot that would not be tolerated in others. I have a friend who is always sick with slight maladies that prevent her from getting basic work done. And she doesn’t ever really commit to showing up to events. And people let her get away with it in friendships and at work. It amazes me how much she gets away with.
Placater– They never confront things, they back down and make things nice again. They will appease people when things get difficult. We might know a staff person like this- Heck, we can all be conflict avoidant at times! I know I can!
Oldest/Favored Son– They get special treatment and have special responsibility, often to talk between the leader and the rest of the team. Sure, they get subtle benefits from this position, but also might have to take responsibility for the behavior of the “younger siblings.”
Mascot– This person can be treated like they are cute and good for the team, but they’re not actually expected to do much.
Saint or Angel– They act as if they are better than others, and people treat them this way. They act like they are totally virtuous, even when they are not.
Skeptic– They will reliably throw cold water on new ideas every time. They actively keep the nonprofit from taking risks or making changes. I had a few coworkers like this before, and it’s hard to get around them, when you’re the new person, and you’re just trying to get things done! They are a force of inertia.
Can you see some roles right now that you play? That your coworkers play?
That your boss plays?
Now I can see the role that my friend’s co-workers are playing out- martyr! They complain but don’t seem to be able to do anything about problems.
If you like these ideas, why not put them in a list, and then as a column header, put in your coworkers names, and take note of which behaviors you can see them or yourself playing out? You could encourage them to do the same for you, and perhaps then you could step away from these masks, if you want to!
Would you like to learn more about getting along with people at work?
If you’d like to learn more about your right work, or your work personality, why not get a session with me?