It takes Owls, Pussycats, and all sorts

Yesterday I was doing a bit of chest beating on behalf of larks.

Whether I am right or not in my belief that they (we!) are the master race, I think it’s fair to say that owls are never going to be as well placed until the day your diary is full of meetings from 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, and so on.

As it turned out, my yesterday turned into today on a conference call with California, so I have had a taste of being an owl. However owls don’t then have to drive to London at 5.15 in order to resume life as a lark!

Personality is a big influencer of decision making – as in all business activities. Of course our personality profile is determined by a lot more factors than relative effectiveness at different ends of the day. Let’s look at other elements of our make up:

  • There is the Driver, Expressive, Amiable, Analyst spectrum, developed by Peter Urs Bender and others:
    • Drivers (Eagles) are leaders and achievers
    • Expressives (Peacocks) are extroverts and visionaries
    • Amiables (Doves – or Pussycats!) are team players and patient
    • Analysts (Owls) are thinkers and rigorous
  • And we all know about Myers Briggs (probably the only daughter/mother team responsible for a major invention):
    • Extroverts (wide world) versus Introverts (my world)
    • Sensors (take information on board) versus Intuitors (interpret and add meaning)
    • Thinkers (logical, task driven) versus Feelers (emotive, people-focused)
    • Judges (quick decisions) versus Perceivers (need more information)
  • On both scales we are combinations of characteristics, rather than being one or the other – but it is more helpful to understand the primary factor than to become lost in cocktails

Importantly we know from the work of Meredith Belbin that winning teams (especially teams responsible for making decisions) need to have a balance of personality types. Next time you are sitting in a meeting (you won’t have long to wait!), do a bit of personality profiling around the table:

  • Are you top heavy with Drivers and Expressives?
  • Or moving pretty slowly with amiables and analysts?
  • Are the Judges becoming frustrated with the Perceivers?
  • Is it tricky getting the Introverts to take a broad view?
  • And are the Intuitors getting fed up with the Perceivers?
  • Finally – and this is where we came in – are the Larks already running out of steam before the Owls have got into their stride?

The key is to know your own strengths and limitations, and to understand what all your colleagues are like, and what they are capable of. Sometimes we have to make decisions on our own. But most of the time it is a team game. A pure example of Behavioural Economics in action.

Hopefully with a basic understanding of profiling, you can prevent it becoming a contact sport!