My experiences of working with people with amiable personality types

As a driver personality, the amiable style is diametrically opposite to me and therefore one that, as a leader, I found the most challenging to work with.

When amiables are in a good place, they are your social secretaries, your peace makers, the supportive cheer leaders working towards to the team effort and just lovely to have around.

When they are not at their best they can be divisive and quietly disruptive, all the while telling you everything is fine.

I have had a few experiences where, for fear of damaging inter-personal relationships within the team, people I was working with would not speak up and say they were unhappy.  Either with other team members, with their career progression or indeed with me.

As a leader you pick up on this change in dynamic fairly quickly but it is difficult to be able to solve problems and help get things dealt with (driver talk again!) if someone isn’t talking to you.  And where you have multiple amiables within a small group, they can start to collude with each other and give in to the ‘consensus’ rather than stand up for what they really think.

Very early on in my leadership career I had a team member in a role where there was no linear upward progression in.  We had explored various alternative options with the business, of which none appealed, so we focussed on skills development for as long as we could, with what I thought was a mutual understanding that this person would likely choose to leave once they felt they had learned what they could from the role.  I succession planned, committed what time I could to train and mentor, and felt like what role I was taking in this understanding was satisfactory.

After a while, a clique started to form within what had previously been a relatively stable team and I was surprised to realise that it was becoming quite negative, which was seeping out to the wider team.

I went in to trouble shooting mode and tried to start chipping away at the complaints and gripes that were coming forward as dutifully and transparently as I could, but nothing seemed to work.  It just kept getting worse (looking back now as they progressed through the stress Z pattern – more to come on this later in the month) to the point where team members not in the clique were unhappy about the clique and the whole team felt like it was in flux.

After some reflection and collaboration with other leaders in the business I identified what I deemed to be the source of the issue and took a punt.  I addressed what was going on under the table in a 121 with my unhappy amiable and called out the complaints I was getting from the team, rather than how I saw things, which mortified them.  I reminded them of how, according to them, they had no choice but to leave to get the type of role they wanted and asked them to consider whether this was still true and either way, what they were going to do about it. I was blunt and definitely in driver mode, but it forced them to take control of their options.  They resigned within a month and as soon as they left it was like a huge cloud was lifted.  I couldn’t believe the transformation in the team and how quick it was. And they went on to be very happy in a job that suited them perfectly, which I was very pleased about.

Don’t under estimate the power of one unhappy individual on a team dynamic.  For information on your my team coaching partnership Dynamic Connections can help support you in managing the social styles in your team, please get in touch.


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