Question everything


I heard a very good piece of advice recently, “question everything!” This is something I’ve been brought up to do, something I do daily and I think is a crucial skill within being an entrepreneur. The art of looking at the norm or a product and questioning, “Why does this have to be this way?” and “How could things be improved?” Nothing has to remain the same and nothing should remain unchallenged. That is exactly what entrepreneurs are, they are business challengers.

Questioning things is a deep part of my personality. I believe it improves processes, teams, and business. This aspect of my personality and my willingness to question things, leads me on to the focus of this post. What is the impact of my personality on our business team and on their learning?

Hills (2001:33) defines personality as “the probability of a particular set of behaviours occurring” and considers that “personality drives the nature of interactions between people.” From this evaluation, we can consider personality types are crucial to effective communication between people which is, in turn, crucial to developing an effective team. At first glance, this seems challenging, that who you are and how you are perceived directly impacts on our team. But from previous experience within teams, I would say aspects of my personality have been initially misinterpreted which have had an impact on the team. Once the team has got to know who I am and how I work, the impact is lessened dramatically.

So the questioning begins with my personality type. Well, I could list off a variety of attributes I think I have, but the most effective method of assessing this stems from the Myers Briggs Type Inventory. This comes in the form of a questionnaire and focuses on types of personalities leading to certain likely behaviours. A participant answers certain questions and is labelled a type. My type, is as always, an INTJ, which is apparently quite rare. I have been this type since I took the inventory, ten years ago. The only aspect that has changed, is that gradually, I’m becoming less of a strict thinker, representing the fact I consider people and their feelings on board. I also attempt to be more risk taking and go a little more on my gut instinct.

My results are as follows;

I’m 44% introvert – thought orientated, deep thinker, recharge alone

88% intuitive – seek pattern recognition and meaning

12% thinking – Objective, logical, deductive decision maker

33% judging – Seeks organised and structured learning.

From these results, you can begin to gleam what sort of person I am.

Another method of personality labelling has been put forward by Cattell and Kline (1977) and focuses on personality traits: 16 of them. Within their questionnaire, again you answer a serious of questions and the outcome is you are rated between 0-4 for each trait. The closer you are to 4, the more you are considered to hold the personality trait.

My results were as follows:

Warmth – 2.6

Reasoning – 3.4

Emotional stability – 2.6

Dominance – 3

Liveliness- 2.1

Rule conscious – 2.4

Social boldness – 1.2

Sensitivity – 2.7

Vigilance – 0.6

Abstractedness – 3.3

Privateness – 1.6

Apprehension – 1.7

Openness to change – 3

Self-reliance – 2.8

Perfectionism – 2.1

Tension – 1

So far within my learning, I have focused on self-awareness and self-reflection. This is the starting point. But I’m yet to consider what these results mean in the sense of the team and question the impact of my personality on the team.

Looking at the results so far, the picture paints an introverted, pragmatic individual. One who reacts based on rationality and judgement over feelings. Someone who seeks out meaning, challenges and can be detached and self-reliant. A dominant personality, who welcomes idea exploration and is always open to change.

As Hills (2001) suggests, it is the people within the team that make the team, hence knowing the people within the team and how they interact is so crucial. Consequently, it is the personalities, the mixture of personalities and understanding of those personalities that is the most important in determining the success of a team.  Hills (2001) discusses many barriers to team development and effective team learning, but there were two points, which instantly stuck out to me. He considered two of the barriers are (and he listed many), the detached learner and the self-sufficient learner. These are two aspects of my personality (I am quite detached and I am very self-sufficient) that I have never questioned how they would impact the team.

The detached learner is an introvert, one that doesn’t rely on people, one that needs to process information often in isolation before reflecting back into the group. This personality can be misunderstood, considered aloof and is hard to grasp by learners that like learning alongside other people. Consequently, my quietness in meetings, sitting a part and often leaving a meeting at the end to be on my own, can be (and on reflection, has been) mis-interpreted. It gives off the air of someone who doesn’t actively want to be involved and someone who isn’t interested in engaging with the group on a personal level. This couldn’t be further from the truth it is just the way I naturally am within a business environment.

The self-sufficient aspect has always been something I saw as a strong point. I take ownership of my own learning and I manage my own learning effectively. I don’t bring what I learn back into the team and I don’t actively involve them in the process, I often feel I don’t have to, after all I’m the one engaging in the learning process. Hence, I can come across as the one who seems to know everything or may be more aptly, “the one who think she knows everything”. But within a team learning business environment, I’m not being a team learner and I’m not ensuring the sustainability of the group. I am pocketing knowledge in secret.

Consequently, as a team, we need to take two steps. We need to first learn about our personalities, question them and understand what we do to then communicate that into the team. Secondly, we need to listen to others and how their personality may impact on the team. As a team and as individuals, assessing personality and behaviour, we need to appreciate the importance of diversity. We have a lot of differences, that instead of rejecting; we could focus on as being complimentary when paired together.

Moreover, the key to an effective team is compromise. It is about accepting how you are and how others are and working together on the business in the middle ground. Whilst having awareness, that if someone like me detaches, it is simply to think and reflect, and that will be of benefit to the team. Also, if someone else gets defensive or upset about feedback, it is because they are driven by their emotions; passion is always beneficial within a team. Most importantly, it is having the confidence to question the behaviours and personalities of others, to gain a greater insight and understanding.

As an individual, I can make small changes which will have a big difference, something which Anderson (2013) advocated in one of my previous blog posts. I can stick with the group more, even if just superficially during lectures, seminars and breaks. But I will take my lunch breaks alone; as this is the time I utilise to plan and reflect. In terms of sharing my learning, I can communicate more openly what I’m learning and highlight it within the group. I will stop looking at the learning from the point of view, what do I need to know and what does my business need to launch? Instead, I will look at it strategically considering, what will the team benefit from learning and what does the team need to launch our business.

These steps forward, couldn’t have been made without questioning things that are so natural within my interactions and learning processes; things I’ve never questioned before. Questioning enables progress and change. Therefore, question everything in business, including your personality.




Monday Morning Blues

Monday Morning Blues

The thing I love most about a Monday morning, is that for me, it the time to set all my targets and objectives for the coming week and plan for when it all needs to be done. This strangely fills me with excitement, I love challenges and having a lot to do.

It is also a time for reflecting on the past week and seeing how I did in relation to those tasks. Usually, I can see that my targets were a little bit unrealistic….but why not reach for stars in personal achievement?

So one of this week’s targets was to arrange to go to a presentation skills workshop (finally). I’ve been saying that I need to do this for the past few weeks and conveniently not doing it. But now it is arranged. So I can expect the usual fear, being made to do presentations, exploring why I hate them and why I try to avoid them. This session though, I’m hoping will provide a little more on the technical side. I’m known for my often overwhelming hand gestures. I don’t use my hands much when I talk, but as soon as I get on stage, I’m practically doing the YMCA. I am also far too reliant on my notes and I cling to them like my life source.

So next week 21st, I am attending. I also picked out some other sessions, I might quite like to go to. It has been a while, since I’ve completed reports, so I’m going off my previous knowledge from years ago. A refresher might be useful. I’ve also suggested that my team should have a look at the other sessions, as I think they could really benefit the team, making everyone have a certain level of knowledge that can be brought back within the team to make our project work better.

Another aspect of this morning, which relates to my Daria picture, is I collected my Insights Profile this morning. I can honestly say I’ve never read anything, that sums me up better, than these ten sheets of paper. It had an element of hard hitting honesty, but every single thing, I agreed with. I will go into these in deeper reflections later, but my take away message (typical for me to discount all the positive and jump straight into the negative analysis) was this idea of “aloof” and “unemotional”.

Ironically, the profile, said that would be the bit I honed in on and would question and reflect on the most, which obviously I am doing. There are many aspects of my personality that I have tried to change in order to work better and the profile was good at showing some of my weakness, that possibly come to the fore when unchecked. However, some of the negatives, due to my self-awareness, I’m able to realise this is within me and I can act in a different way. Again, I will go into more detail at a later date. But this element of aloof and unemotional, remains a concrete block of my personality. I’ve asked for feedback on it previously and it is something that no matter how hard I try, is commented on. My parents used to always comment on my controlled, unemotional nature as a child and growing up. I just have full control of my emotions and I don’t really “feel” things too much. Maybe the right phrasing is I separate feelings away……I always feel they are burried away. But I don’t think that is always a bad thing.

But the aloof element, I try so hard to be inclusive and to speak, so I’m always blind sighted when it comes up. A recent ocassion was when I went on a date, with my current boyfriend Jackson, whom I really liked. It was our first proper date. I spent the whole time, just being me and making a huge effort. However, Jackson has since commented, that I came across disinterested, aloof and like I wanted to be elsewhere. It is strange, that I can feel so differently on the inside and yet, portray the complete opposite unintentionally.

Consequently, this makes me question, what I’m bring perceived like now? My friends and people who know me, embrace my aloof nature and I’m known for being quirky. I guess, they accept me as I am, so I never have the opportunity to consider if it is an issue or not. I remember another occasion when I was in Enactus Newcastle. I’m not really into business/work and socialising. I portray a different side with the people who I know and keep them separate. Hence I don’t really socialise professionally….a downfall I know as networking is key. (but i HATE networking with a passion….i always feel so awkward.) But within Enactus, I “thought” I was socialising but I event got feedback, from my lovely friend Sophie (the much valued voice of brutual honesty – in fact I’ve learnt more about myself working along side Sophie, than anyone else), that I didn’t put enough effort in with the social side, seemed detached and uninterested, which was compounding the view I was aloof. I corrected my behaviour and put ALOT more effort in and reaped the rewards, but it felt very much, I had to really not only compromise, but be someone else, for a while to get them onside.

Why I’ve picked Daria here, is when I was growing up, she was the cartoon character I identified with the most. Awkward, detached, abit weird, not concerned about being liked, socially ridiculous…..and I used to watch it as a teen and think, that is me and feel a sense of acceptance. The older I get, the more frustrated I get, that THIS is how I’m perceived.

The more it is said negectively towards me, the more confused I am by it, the more impossible it seems to change and the more I worry it will effect me in the long term within my business.

But hopefully, I can take the questionnaire as a whole and learn from it.