Most of the information available on personality types in business tends to focus on identifying the business personality types of management and staff as if people were only one personality type. The problem is that although we might have a main, or primary, self, we now know that humans are multi-faceted and have many inner personality types – or inner selves.
Most of the time you might be a particular personality type, but when conditions change, such as when you are under stress or you are away at a conference or another person enters the picture who draws out another aspect of your personality, your primary personality ‘type’ will change. Another part of your personality will emerge who will be quite different in nature to your primary business self.
This article introduces you to some of the inner selves we all have within us who are involved in business. The focus is on small business but the information applies to anyone who works. This information will help you become aware of which of these selves are primary in you and in your associates, and which selves you have disowned.
You actually have all these selves within you, and it will be valuable to understand which one is dominant in you, which ones you tend to suppress, and then how you can have more choice about which selves you draw on as you meet day-to-day challenges. It also helps to know what is happening when other parts emerge, both in yourself and in your colleagues.
Your Inner Business Personality Types
There are three main personality types, or selves, that are involved in business, and these three selves are good at different aspects of business. Many people who have their own businesses use mainly one of the business selves and are not so good at expressing the others, which means they are good at one aspect of running their business but are not able to take as great care of all the other aspects. Consequently, the state of their businesses usually reflects this and statistics show that many new businesses (over 90%) fail within five years. Even in large corporations, often the conflicting interests of various departments or divisions, and even of individuals, leads to the failure or compromise of projects.
The three main inner selves needed to run a business are: the entrepreneur, the technician and the manager.
The Entrepreneurial Self
The entrepreneur is the part of you who is creative and innovative. He or she has ideas that solve problems. If the entrepreneur part of you starts a business then that business will be based on providing an innovative solution to a problem.
The entrepreneurial self has vision, it dreams and it always sees opportunities. It is constantly looking forward and is focused on innovation.
You can not, however, run a business solely identified with an entrepreneurial self – day-to-day tasks would not get done and few of the ideas would be seen through to the end.
The Technician Self
You also need a part of you who will do the actual day-to-day tasks: the technician. The technical work in a business refers to the work that needs doing in your business, whether it be writing, accounting, producing marketing material, baking bread or building houses.
The technician is the part of you that is the doer. It has specific skills and likes to use those skills. If a technician starts a business then that business will be based on allowing the technician to use his or her skills. It is not focused on finding an innovative solution for the customer but on creating an environment where it can do what it likes. Examples of phrases the technician uses are:
“I love helping people – I’ll be a counsellor”
“I love cooking – I’ll start a restaurant”
“I love technology and computers – I’ll start an IT consultancy”
The technician is necessary for your business to work but it also will not lead to business success if it is the only part of you running your business. It works in the business, not on the business. It gets involved with doing the things that need doing and does not see the big picture, nor does it plan for the future. And for a business to succeed there needs to be someone working on it, someone coming up with the ideas and vision (the entrepreneur), but also someone to plan and implement those ideas.
The Manager Self
The managerial self takes the entrepreneur’s ideas and works out how they will be put into practice. The manager is necessary for making sure the technician does not get carried away with tinkering and doing everything him or herself. The manager can delegate and comes up with systems so things get done efficiently and the business runs smoothly.
You need all three of the business selves described above in order to make your business run smoothly and efficiently and so that it can grow. And if your business does grow or if you lead a division in a larger organisation, you need these selves to be the primary selves in other people who will take responsibility for the three different aspects of running a business.
If you are a sole practitioner or have a small business then you need to have all three available as inner selves in you. Then if your business expands, you can delegate the roles to other people. You can choose which role you are best at and focus on that role.
The Voice Dialogue technique and the associated theory of how our inner selves relate with the selves in other people via bonding patterns will help you discover which role you are more identified with and more comfortable with, and enable you to access the other business selves you require.
You can also use this work to understand and solve the relationship issues that occur in the workplace, both between leaders, between staff members, and between management and staff.
Exercise: Which Business Self Are You?
The three business selves do not see eye-to-eye. Actually each sees the other two as hampering them – just look at how staff talk about management in many organisations, and how management talk about the entrepreneurs, and how the entrepreneurs talk about staff and management.
Each sees the others as getting in their way and stopping them doing their work successfully. The truth is, they do in fact need each other in order for the business entity to function. So even though you will be more identified with one or two of the business selves, and may not think very highly of the one(s) you are not so identified with, you can still access the other one(s) to balance your system and gain input from all of them.
Look at the following descriptions of the business selves and find the ones you relate to most (these are summarised from Michael E Gerber’s book The E-Myth Revisited).
If you are a TECHNICIAN:
- You have specific skills you have trained in and enjoy using them.
- You are focused in the present, often getting caught up in doing your thing.
- You become annoyed at the restrictive rules of your manager which you see as reducing you to a part of the ‘system’.
- You find systems dehumanising and impersonal.
- You like to get on with your work and not have your duties suddenly changed by a new idea from the entrepreneur.
- You distrust management because they always want you to be more productive.
- You are interested in how to do your job and how to do it better.
If you are a MANAGER:
- You are pragmatic.
- You plan, order, and think about how to make systems run more efficiently.
- You are focused on the past, learning from ‘mistakes’ and working out better systems.
- You see problems in the systems that need fixing.
- You put into order the things the entrepreneur creates.
- You clean up the mess the entrepreneur makes.
If you are an ENTREPRENEUR:
- You crave control and change.
- You see opportunities in everything.
- You are the visionary, the dreamer.
- You live in the future – you think ‘what if’.
- You are creative.
- You are always moving into the future and you often leave others behind – to complete and organise the job you instigated or to clean up after you.
If you now have an idea of which business self(ves) you relate to most, you can work on finding the other selves in yourself – Voice Dialogue is a great way to do this.
To learn more about Voice Dialogue and how the various parts of your personality fit together, see my book Which Self Are You?. This book explains how your personality develops and gives an overview of 45 inner selves.