MBTI Bite: If You’re Involved In The Hospitality Industry, You Had Better Know How To Work With ESFJ’s

working-with-esfjs One of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types is ESFJ.  If you are in the hospitality industry, you are probably bumping into ESFJ’s left and right.

For example, I did a workshop with a 100+ person team in the hospitality industry. Despite great diversity in culture, ethnicity, nations, etc. close to 30% were ESFJ’s!

How can you spot an ESFJ?  

ESFJ’s are those who thrive on structure and routine, are very loyal to their managers, and also care very much about people.

They love action-oriented teamwork and are usually among the first to help a colleague in a practical way.

They are also master networkers, and happen to know who is best to bring in for a project.

ESFJ’s are tremendous hosts/hostesses. They are the social event organizers.  This skill translates especially well in management, since ESFJ’s work to make sure everyone is involved and unified. They will work quickly to resolve team conflict so that the project gets done on time.

But the key trait to remember about ESFJ’s is that they are perfectionists at heart.  ESFJ’s love to do quality work.

They can sometimes get too caught up in what, to many others, would be small details.

If you are working with an ESFJ, here are three tips to help the two of you work better together:

1. Make sure that everyone’s role on the team is clear.


ESFJ’s thrive on structure and clarity.  They want to know who is responsible for what. They especially want to know what they are going to be held accountable for.

Since they are master team players, they rely on this clarity in order to play a role in unifying and supporting the team.

Once there is structure and clarity, watch the ESFJ handle their responsibilities with excellence.

If there is little structure or if roles are not clear, do not be surprised if they become confused, and stress becomes visible.  They may also become somewhat paralyzed, not sure how to proceed.

Then comes fear of failure in most ESFJ’s. ESFJ’s hate looking bad in front of others, so this fear of failure will need to be dealt with quickly.

Many ESFJ’s have learned to help their more “go-with-the-flow” managers develop structure and clarity.

So if you are a manager who struggles to put together clear roles and structure, solicit the help of your ESFJ direct reports.  They are probably dying to help you.

ESFJ’s are extremely practical, but often this strength does not become apparent until their role is defined.  Therefore, do not overlook this step when working with them.

2. When giving feedback, be sure to point out what was quality work, and then talk about how they can take it to the next level.


ESFJ’s care very much how people see them.  Many can struggle with perfectionism.

Most feel embarrassed if they made a mistake that was noticed by the team.

They really want to produce quality work.  They work hard to achieve it, so it is especially disappointing to them when they make a mistake, much less fail at something.

When giving ESFJ’s feedback, be sure to acknowledge publicly what is quality about their work.  Stress how much you value them, but not in a way that seems like flattery.  Be sincere.  Look for the quality and praise it.

When it is time to talk about going to the next level, be sure to do that in private.  If they perceive they are being criticized, the privacy will help you to help them process their emotions around it without causing them undue embarrassment.

Ultimately, they are going to love seeing a way that they can take it up a notch, because they really want their work to be excellent.

3. Be careful about challenging their authority--you might get your head bitten off.


Since ESFJ’s give so much respect to those in authority, and they work hard to get everyone on their team involved and unified, they find it highly offensive when their authority is challenged.  Do not be surprised if you see a strong outburst of emotions.

In general, ESFJ’s hate conflict, but if you happen to bait them, they will escalate the conflict.

If you believe something is off, pull them aside and ask them. Ask if they are up for discussing whatever it is. Once again, be sure to share how you value them as a colleague/boss.  And once again, be sincere.  Don’t try to schmooze with them.

Once the matter is out in the open, identify what is quality and strong about the work they did, and ask if what you see would help make things to be even stronger.

When working with ESFJ’s, as with any personality type, play to their strengths.

If you are someone who loves to innovate and come up with unconventional means of doing things, remember to mention frequently how the innovation will enhance your team’s influence on the larger group.

Chew On This:


  • How can you recognize the ESFJ’s on your team for the quality of their work?


Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

MBTI Bite: 3 Tips for Working with Feelers (“F’s” in Myers-Briggs)

Work With Feelers When I was starting out in the business world as a Feeler, I thought I needed to “overcome” my sensitivity and emotional-side in order to make sound business decisions.

I tried hard to become like the Thinkers I admired (“T’s” in Myers-Briggs) and freeze my emotions to come up with “objective reality.”  That just did not work for me.  I felt empty when I did not embrace the emotions I felt and others were feeling in the room.

What I once thought was a weakness, I now see as a core wiring that helps me make effective decisions and bring good to the marketplace.

Having coached in the corporate world for years, I have heard Feeling clients say that they needed to develop: thick skin, the ability to make the “hard decisions” that people don’t like, and to work successfully with those who don’t give emotional cues.

If you are leading a team where some members are Feelers, remember:

  1. Feelers want harmony.

Feelers are sensitive to people’s emotions.  They want everyone to get along.  They want to be liked, believed in, and viewed as competent.

Thinkers often freeze their emotions in order to get to “objective reality.”  Feelers embrace emotions in order to have the emotional data pieces to make a sound decision that enhances harmony.

As a conversation moves impersonally, a Feeler can translate an attempt by Thinkers to be objective as Thinkers being cold or uncaring.  This can trigger a fear in the Feeler that those impacted will not be treated fairly or will be not be considered.  This fear can color how they view the logic the Thinker is presenting and can lead to strong resistance.

A great way to help a Feeler is to make them aware that you (if you are a Thinker) have a tendency to freeze your emotions in order to discern what is true.  This freezing of emotions is not done because you don’t care about people but rather it is because you are trying to arrive at truth.  Once you arrive at truth, you want to make sure that the truth is communicated in a way that brings harmony to the team and that is especially where you will love their insights and guidance.

  1. Pepper what you say with emotional terms so that they can connect to you.

Feelers use emotional cues to stay connected with those they communicate with.  If every once in awhile you include what you feel about the facts you are describing that helps the Feeler to track better with you and not to assume that you feel cold.

If you sense that they are feeling resistant or defensive or keep coming back to the impact on people before you are ready to discuss that piece, assure them that you are still looking for what is best for the overall team and you want to make sure everyone is treated well regardless of choice.  Then say what doing that feels like for you (i.e. you can say, “It would be gratifying to me to not only come up with the best solution, but also that the impact on all is received well.  You just want to handle it one part at a time.)"

  1. Separate out the behaviors from the person.

When offering criticism to a Feeler there is a danger that the Feeler may translate the criticism as an attack on who you believe they are.  So make sure to first stress how you see them and then go into the criticism.  Then come back to the how you see them as you attack the behaviors that need to be addressed.  Always be sincere in how you see them or else it could feel like you are buttering them up but only to cushion the blow.

So you could say something like, “I believe in you.  I value you.  I have seen you contribute in valuable ways like when you did XYZ.  I want to talk about something that will make things even better.  Are you ok with us diving in there?” Get buy-in and make sure that they sense that you are on their side.  Then go into whatever feedback you sense is appropriate and then go back to what you said before, “I am saying this to you because you are already valuable this will take you to the next level and I want to see you there.”

I have coached Feelers who are in fields that most people would not expect them to rise to like in areas of Strategy, Accounting, Engineering, Statistics, etc.  Bringing their ability to pick up what others feel has been a tremendous blessing to their businesses.

Chew On This: What benefits does your company gain from the Feeler personality types?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

10 Characteristics of High-Performing Teams: Part 2

High Performing Teams This is the third part of a three-part blog series on high-performing teams. The first article was about how to turn your team into the team that everyone wants to work for. The second article went into detail about five of the ten characteristics of high-performing teams.

High Performing Teams (HPT) are the teams everyone wants to work for.  They get so much done, and have a lot of fun doing so.

Many of us want to see our teams as already being HPT’s, but if we are honest, we can see where our teams fall short and then develop strategies to help them get there.

As previously mentioned, in the last post we discussed the first five characteristics:

  1. Open & Clear Communication
  2. Defined Roles & Responsibilities
  3. Mutual Trust
  4. Effective Decision-Making
  5. Coordinative Relationships

In this post, we will discuss the last five:

  1. Clear Goals
  2. Participative Leadership
  3. Managing Conflict
  4. Value Diversity
  5. Positive Atmosphere

Clear Goals

Is your team clear on what their goals are?  What percentage of their time is spent actually fulfilling those goals?  If that percentage is below 80%, what needs to be deleted, delegated, diminished, or delayed so that the team can stay focused?

Also, are the goals set up in a S.M.A.R.T. format?  If the goals are not tangible and clear, there will be debate as to whether or not they were achieved.

Finally, please be sure to activate each team member’s core values in order for them to fully commit to those goals.

Participative Leadership

When watching HPT’s in action, it is often hard to tell who the leader is. Members of HPT’s tend to push each other to bring out the best in each other and give ideas as to how the goals should be achieved. Often times teams vote on the course that should be taken and then all members of the team align to achieve it.

Managing Conflict

HPT’s resolve conflicts quickly and efficiently. They don't allow for resentment to build between team members. Other team members smell tension and they will encourage the tensions to be resolved.

Usually team members attack the ideas while affirming the team member who suggested the idea but sometimes egos can get frayed and conflict occurs.

Conflict is dealt with directly and honestly. They do everything they can to attack the problem and not each other.

Value Diversity

The best teams that I have seen have a good, balanced mix of Myers-Briggs types. As such, they cover each other's blind spots really well.

They also have people on the team of different backgrounds and levels of experience. This diversity assures that the best options are executed.

Diversity is a major reason why high-performing teams are very effective decision-makers.

Positive Atmosphere

High-performing team members contribute everything they can to maintaining a positive atmosphere.  Typically they become really good at energizing team members, communicating transparently, and staying flexible while generating options to lock on the solution. These teams know that they are going to succeed and that belief contributes to the positive atmosphere.

How does your team measure against these 10 characteristics?  Where do you want to start to advance these characteristics across your team?  Do you want to strengthen a strength or contain a weakness?

If you have the right team members, your team can become an HPT.

Chew On This: What does your team need most to become a high-performing team?

Ryan Bailey is a Leadership Coach who advances excellence across leaders and their teams.

10 Characteristics of High-Performing Teams: Part 1

High Performing Team In my previous post, I outlined five principles for turning your team into a team that everyone wants to work for.  In the next two posts, I will break down 10 characteristics of High Performing Teams (HPT).

I delivered a workshop on HPT’s in New York to the top sales group of a company.  On a white board were listed the 10 characteristics of high performing teams.  Those characteristics are:

  1. Open & Clear Communication
  2. Defined Roles & Responsibilities
  3. Mutual Trust
  4. Effective Decision-Making
  5. Coordinative Relationships
  6. Clear Goals
  7. Participative Leadership
  8. Managing Conflict
  9. Value Diversity
  10. Positive Atmosphere

The members of this 40+ team were asked to go up and put a check mark next to the top three characteristics that they believed the team already did really well.

This time there were four characteristics that did not get a single check from more than 40 people.

The leader of the team stopped me and asked her team, “What would it take for those four areas to reach the same level as the top 3?”

The conversation that followed was phenomenal as the team articulated real suggestions and gave the type of feedback that normally teams only divulge in a strictly confidential interview-style 360-degree-review.  All feedback was received really well and it served as a rallying cry that propelled the team closer.

Let’s break down the first five characteristics of high performing teams in this post and then we will cover the other five in the next week's post. .

These characteristics are not in order.

Open & Clear Communication

On high-performing teams, people say what they mean.  They express their opinions, preferences, and disagreements.  Those of us who are more feeler-types on Myers-Briggs may say it with more tact than thinker-types often do. But sometimes, because of our tact, we are not as clear right away as our thinker-counterparts are.

Being open and clear is a skill that can be developed.  Those of us who are extroverted often need to verbally process first, then we can get clear.  Those of us who are introverted usually think before we speak.

You know you are being open if there is no marketing to what you are saying.  That is you are authentic and can be pinned to your position.  There is sometimes a sense of risk that I feel when I am being open, but that risk quickly goes away as I sense others drawing closer to me.

The communication is only clear when everyone can repeat back what you said or better yet, paraphrase it in a way that gets to the heart of what you said.  Make sure on the major points that you ask your team if they understand what you said.

Defined Roles & Responsibilities

If you asked your team to write a job description for how they actually spend their time, would it match the one you would write as to how they should be spending their time?

As the book Essentialism stresses, everyone needs to know the most core part of their role.  They need to go all in there.  What percentage of your direct report’s time is on what is most essential?  Find ways to increase that time if it is not where it needs to be.

It is important that everyone knows each other’s role and what they are specifically responsible for.  If this is not clear, there is going to be some grief and heartache especially from the Judgers (see Myers-Briggs type) as they see people crossing boundaries.  Moreover, you probably won’t be producing superior results without this kind of clarity.

Mutual Trust

Trust comes from understanding how each person is wired, that includes knowing their core driver.  It also comes from repeated experiences where you can experience the other’s integrity.

I have seen team members, especially those who are being on-boarded on to the team, move to trust quickly with an understanding of each team members’ Myers-Briggs type and the one-pager that I mentioned in the previous post.  You want a tool that helps people really get one another quickly and you will see trust soar.

You will know that it is there because you will sense the team fighting for one another and you will sense that the environment is positive and comfortable even though team members push one another to get the best out of each other.

In the cases where someone has acted without integrity or where there are misgiving between team members.  Good effective conflict resolution that always includes ownership and forgiveness will also improve trust.

Effective Decision-Making

According to Bain & Company, the qualities of effective decision making are:

  • Quality - “How often do you choose the right course of action?”
  • Speed - “How quickly do you make decisions compared with your competitors?”
  • Yield - “How often do you execute decision as intended?”
  • Effort - “Do you put the right amount of effort into making and executing decisions?”

If you track the decisions you and your team have made a year or two ago, how would you say you and your team are doing?

What can you do to improve in any of those four areas?

Becoming a team that makes consistently effective decisions will increase productivity.

Coordinative Relationships

As result of the four characteristics listed above is that teams know how to communicate and coordinate tasks and responsibilities in a way that they outperform.  They know when they are coordinating tasks how to support one another throughout the process.  There is a sense of intrinsic accountability that will come through.  Sometimes it needs to be formalized but for the most part the team members’ tasks are not only in their wheelhouse but out of desire to accomplish their goal with excellence.

Chew On This: Out of the 5 characteristics listed above, which one would you most want to strengthen?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

MBTI Bite: 3 Tips for Working with Introverts

Introvert I used to think that in order to be a top business leader, you had to be an extrovert.  However, after working with some introverts, I now know that is not true.

I am currently working with a Senior Vice President of a global Fortune 1000 company who happens to be a solid introvert.  What I love about him is how he takes in information, processes it, and then makes succinct statements that are really powerful.  None of the fumbling-around-verbally-processing-sometimes-sticking-my-foot-in-my-mouth that I, as an extrovert, can do.

If we are at a function, he does engage others, but after awhile he starts to get people-d out.  He tries to smile and be gracious, but it is obvious he needs his alone time.

As an introvert, he really shines when he has a solo project to work on.  I have worked with him through his last five promotions.  The higher up he moves, the more he is working through others to get the work done.  However, we noticed that he becomes a little bored and at times drained through the constant meetings required to keep his direct reports updated and their work refined.

One of the things revealed in a coaching meeting was that he needed one critical solo project to work on, while fulfilling his other duties.  Since we have implemented that, there has been no more boredom, and he handles the direct reports with his one-on-one’s feeling less drained.

How To Work With Introverts

As is implied in the above paragraphs, there are a few things to keep in mind when working with introverts.

  1. Give them time to process – As introverts listen, they formulate their answers in their heads and then they speak.  They may pause before responding.  One way to maximize their ability to process in this way is to favor email over discussion.  This is not to say that they would not profit from face-to-face meetings, but sometimes they would rather take in the details and chew on potential responses ahead of the meeting, especially if they are J’s (Judgers on Myers-Briggs).
  2. Protect their alone time – Are you noticing that an introvert’s calendar is getting filled with meeting after meeting?  Try giving them a chance to take a significant break to process what they’ve been taking in and also recharge their batteries.  Please don’t disturb them during this time as they want to be fresh for the next round of face-to-face meetings
  3. Give them a solo project to work on – Yes, introverts can work in a team and collaborate well, but they tend not to like the office gossip or the small talk.  They want to get into the work, perform their role well, and move on to the next meeting.

When working with an introvert, be sure to give them one solo project that matches their gift-sets.  If they are being “forced” into constant group work, you could start to see discouragement set in.  Even in group work, make sure they get some time to work alone on their own on a piece of the project, and then allow them to come back into the larger team.

Introverts are rising fast in the marketplace.  Those who are rising leverage their strengths, learn to work with their constraints, and communicate their needs to their team members so that all are aware of how to work with them successfully.

If you are leading a team with introverts encouraging them to do the same will increase their engagement.

Chew On This: Do you know which of your team members are introverts?  How can you help them to shine?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

MBTI Bite: Three Tips for Working with P's

Perceiver Many of the P’s (Perceivers in Myers-Briggs) I know have a duality about them.  On the one hand, they feel like they are a mess: they can’t seem to “get organized” or finish what they start.  On the other hand, when they are in their element and have room to just be, they can chill or be the life of the party.  They love that part of themselves, and those of us who are J’s (Judgers) love watching it. (Okay, to be completely real, we are envious of it.)

The P’s whom I have coached in corporate America mistakenly believe they need to hide their "P qualities” for fear that those qualities will hold them back from climbing as high as they desire.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  They actually need to leverage those qualities, and we who are J’s can help them.

If you are working with a P, there are three tips for drawing out the best in them.

  1. Set plenty of mini-deadlines ahead of the true deadline – P’s tend to work in bursts.  A burst magically appears about an hour before the deadline is due.  The amount of creativity which P’s show and the work they get done in that last hour is amazing.  J’s who are working with P’s or managing them often feel like the P’s are driving them nuts.  They wish P’s were more methodical.  If you are collaborating with a P, break down the project into multiple parts, then set clear and hard deadlines for each of the parts.  Make sure that you give yourself enough time at the end to refine the work that is being completed because P’s often wish they had “a little more time” to correct some of the pieces.  By leaving time to refine, you can both work on sharpening it.  You will appreciate the ingenuity a P brings to each part of the project.
  2. Don’t suffocate them with a rigid schedule – J’s like to be scheduled.  P’s like to be open-ended.  Many companies I work with have so many meetings that a P tends to feel suffocated.  The calendar is full, which works against their natural desire to be flexible.  If you want a P in a meeting, please make sure the meeting is essential.  All of us need space to think, plan, and review.  P’s also need open-ended space, where they can draw out their gifts for the good of all.  Granted, the higher they climb, the harder it will be to find open-ended space.  However, I would encourage P’s to carve out at least a two-hour, non-negotiated block in their week for free thinking.  Ideally it should be more, but even with that much, they will accomplish so much more than without it.
  3. Feed P’s with knowledge, wisdom and tips and watch them brilliantly mix and match them at the right moments – P’s know how to wing it.  The sharp ones are able to pull from multiple sources in order to wing it well.  They can adjust on the fly and come up with brilliant ideas that seem so well-thought-out, you would think they had been thinking on it for hours.  What P’s often need in order to nail this gift is more knowledge, wisdom, and tips.  If they are N’s (iNtuitives), they could accomplish this through reading the first and last paragraphs of an article and scanning the rest.  If they are S’s (Sensors), they typically they want details.  I would suggest they become thought leaders in the most essential part of their role.  If they set aside even 30 minutes per day to accumulate more knowledge, wisdom and tips, you will see it pay off dividends in meetings where their wing-it skills are praised.

All personality types are equal.  None are better than the others. We need to leverage each other’s natural gifts in order to accomplish the greater good.

Chew on This: How do you need to adjust for the P’s who are on your team?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

Listen to Your Heart, It's Your Core Driver

Listen to Your Heart Think of those a part of your business for a second.  Can you imagine what it would be like to know what truly drives your employees?  I will tell you a secret…it is not money.  If they were to answer with “money,” I would encourage you to dig a bit further and ask, “What does money represent to you?”  Then listen carefully.  You are close to hearing what the true driver is.  Look for the principle.  Look for something that applies, not just at work, but across the board; something that drives most of their decisions.

You will probably also discover that this core driver at times is used appropriately and at other times it is used inappropriately.  If your employee has an over-desire to a core driver, they will be a slave to it.  It will truly master them and unfortunately will lead to destructive ends.

If they have this core driver in proper balance, then you will find an employee who is in a healthier place and gives gifts in keeping with that core driver.

The Six Categories of Core Drivers

Over the years, I have found that the true drivers can be broken down into six categories.  The acronym for remembering these true drivers is S.L.A.V.E.S.

S.L.A.V.E.S. stands for:

  1. S ecurity
  2. L ove
  3. A cceptance
  4. V alue
  5. E njoyment
  6. S ignificance

Find ways to motivate them according to the core driver they value.  For example, if they have an over-desire toward acceptance, you can still motivate them through showing them acceptance, but be sure to point them toward the balance of it.  You can say something to the effect of, “I am so glad you are here.  You are one of us.  I want you to feel at ease and rest and know that you belong.”

If you sense they are over-working to maintain that level of acceptance, then reassure them by saying, “I am concerned about how much you are working.  I wonder how long you can keep this pace up.  I would hate for you to burn out or to be less effective when you really need to be at your best.”

Discover what the core driver is by asking them or yourself:

  • What does X represent to them/me? (Above it was “money”)
  • When have I seen an inordinate emotion from them/myself?  Which of the six core drivers was at play when that happened?
  • What do they repeatedly talk about?  What does that represent to them?
  • When they/I make a mistake or screw up somehow, what do they/I most fear losing?

Chew On This: What is your core driver?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.


MBTI Bite: 3 Tips for Working With "Sensors" ("S" in Myers-Briggs)


When I was first getting into executive coaching, I could not tell the difference between Myers-Briggs preference types.  I began working with a client who was a high “S” (“Sensor" in Myers-Briggs language).  Sensors are typically concrete.  They love details and facts.  They often search for all available data before making decisions.  They also tend to be literal in their language.

I am a high “N” (“iNtuitive").  Us N’s tend to love the big picture.  We are fascinated by ideas and new possibilities.  We typically tune out when a “ton of details” are being discussed.  We are known for seeing patterns and principles behind the data and jumping to conclusions.  While we may be much more accurate than not, at times we do jump to the wrong conclusion.

Based on the descriptions above, how do you think our first meeting went?  

You guessed it.  He was going on and on with details and facts.  I wanted to “cut to the chase.”  I interrupted at times.  I tried to steer to conclusions sooner than he wanted.

He did not feel like I heard him.  I did not feel like we made much progress in that meeting since we did not complete his stated goal for that first meeting.  I am fairly sure he had doubts as to how well we would work together.  I was confused as to how communicate with him.

A mentor who was well-versed in Myers-Briggs helped me understand my client a lot better.

There were three tips my mentor and I came up with during our meeting that I want to share with you in case it helps you with what you do.

What To Do When You See the Signs That You Are Working with a Sensor 

  1. Send out an agenda ahead of your meetings with them. When creating an agenda for an “S,” especially a high S, make sure that it leaves plenty of room for the exploration of facts and details.  If the person you are meeting likes to plan and be prepared, they will often start to gather the facts ahead of time and will start to sift through them on their own.  If you tend to tune out when there are too many details, turn on your curiosity.  Say to yourself, “I want to understand how he comes to conclusions.”  There may be times when you need to set a limit to the amount of exploration, but allow yourself to understand them.

  2. Start with the highest priority item. Even if you set an agenda that has plenty of room for the exploration of details, you may find you don’t get through all the items on the agenda.  Often times the first item on the agenda gets the most amount of time.  Then each successive item gets less and less time as the meeting winds down.  Some items could get postponed.  Therefore, always start with the most important item.

  3. Make things tangible.  Get practical with Sensors as soon as you can.  Sensors take things in through their five senses.  Leverage that.  Show them charts and drawings.  If there are videos or audio recordings that can be used in a meeting, use them.  Be specific.  Say what you mean.  Mean what you say.

If you practice adjusting your style to another it will go a long way toward building a great relationship.

Chew On This: Which stakeholders are High S’s?  Choose one.  How will you adjust your communication style when you engage them?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

7 Steps to Becoming a Better Listener

Become a Better Listener Have you ever had someone really listen to you?  I don’t mean half-heartedly listening, but rather when someone truly wants to understand what you are saying, what you are not saying, and captures your perception better than you expressed it.

The first time I remember experiencing this type of listening was a tremendous experience.  The professor was fully present with me.  It felt like I was the only one that mattered to her even though she had a class to start lecturing.  In just a couple of minutes I felt valued, understood, and I felt important.  I was energized by the exchange.  I felt confident.  I knew I was trusted.  I became fully engaged and was grateful.  That led to me wanting to make her proud and to really excel in her class.

Have you ever had someone who you could tell wasn’t fully listening to you, but was only listening to reply to you?  Of course you have.  This is the norm.  At times when I am with someone who is listening to reply, I feel like they value time or being right more than me.  I often feel like the person doesn’t really get what I am saying or get me.  This usually leads to an increase in misunderstanding, which then leads to a lot of wasted time.  Sometimes these misunderstandings lead to conflict, lingering resentments, and lower engagement.

You can supercharge your team by just becoming a better listener.

So how do we truly listen to understand?  When a direct report speaks to you:

  1. Rephrase what you have heard them say or what they did not say.  Ask “Am I off?” Once they are done speaking, don’t reply yet.  Instead capture what they said in a single sentence and then follow it with the phrase, “Am I off?”  So, one way of saying this is: “Jack, let me make sure I understand what you have been saying.  You have shared....  Am I off?”
  2. Listen for what is not being said.  Ask them what the repeated phrases mean to them.  Also, look out for something they are they afraid to acknowledge or say.  Ask them about that, “It seems like you are struggling with _________.  Am I off?”  If you are wrong, the “Am I off?" phrase helps them to know that you are really trying to understand them.
  3. Turn on empathy. Empathy fosters connection.  It also leads to you understanding them better.  This helps you to really capture what they are perceiving.
  4. Turn on your curiosity.  When we become curious, we allow ourselves to fully focus on what they have to say.  Set the goal to being able to capture their perception and give it back to them before you reply.  This shows them that you value them.
  5. Listen for what is said. What words or phrases do they repeat?
  6. Ask clarifying questions to make sure that you really want to get what they are sharing with you. If they share something that isn’t really clear, ask them about it.
  7. Don’t reply until you have heard them say something to the effect of “You get me.”  Often you will know that they felt heard when you see them smile.

Chew On This: What benefits would you gain by becoming a better listener?


If you have any questions feel free to email me at or call (404) 421-8120.


Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

Leadership: What's Personality Got To Do With It?

Personality Affects Leadership How well do you know your employees?  Do you get how they are wired?  If you understood how they were wired, how would it impact the way they serve one another, your clients, the company as a whole?

As businesses grow, you as a leader cannot do everything on your own.  You must delegate to other people, which requires working with various personality types.  This can be a good thing.  Hopefully those who report to you have a variety of personality types that can benefit the company.  The more diverse the personality types, the better; they can catch blind spots, they have a wide variety of strengths benefiting the company, and more growth can happen for all.

However, different personality types can also present challenges.  For example, there can be more conflict than you are comfortable with as people misunderstand why other personality types communicate the way they do or work the way they do.  Some can seem frustrated or stressed by an assignment while others are energized by the same assignment.

Most leaders use the one style they feel most comfortable using or the style they believe will be most effective.  Some employees respond and others don’t. This leads to spending time and energy trying to bring up those who are lagging or to higher turnover in the hopes of finding more motivated employees.  Without realizing it, these leaders may be working harder than they need to be.

Quick Fix to Help Understand Differing Personalities

Want a simple fix that really works?

Administer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  It is the most-used assessment across the globe with over 2 million taking it every year.  It only takes ten minutes to complete, yet the results are powerfully long lasting.

You will gain insight and understanding on how each of your employees is wired and you will quickly learn:

  • How to work successfully with each of your employees
  • How to motivate them
  • How to avoid frustrating them
  • What pitfalls they need to work on
  • What the warning signs are when they are stressed out
  • What they look like when their stress has reached a chronic level

Think of how this would impact your leadership.  You would know how to adjust your style to empower those who work with you.

Using Myer-Briggs Personality Test in Hiring Process

Now let’s take it a step further.  What if you used this as part of your hiring process?  Among the other things you do to determine if someone is a good fit, the MBTI can also help you find the right personality type for the current needs of your company.

Leadership is about bringing different personalities to work successfully together to reach a vision.  When leaders understand how those different personalities are wired, they are more than well on their way to achieving their greatest goals with less effort than they have done so in the past.

Chew On This: How would knowing the way each of your employees is wired impact 2016?
 How would each of them knowing how the others are wired impact your company?

If you have any questions feel free to email me at or call (404) 421-8120.

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.