Just like performing in a circus act, your corporate lion taming act can be exhilarating, as long as you follow some basic guidelines.
Steven L. Katz is the author of Lion Taming: Working Successfully with Leaders, Bosses and Other Tough Customers. Katz has worked as a corporate lion tamer for over 20 years; he’s been the executive assistant and right hand to many high-level executives and leaders, including a senior (unnamed in the book) U.S. senator. He intersperses real lion tamer advice from circus performers with advice on how to work with powerful leaders in business.
According to a Yahoo! news article, researchers at the University of Kansas say that people can accurately judge 90 percent of a stranger’s personality simply by looking at the person’s shoes.
Do What You Are is one of the books I always reach for when I work with jobseekers. On his website, Tieger says that career advice has traditionally been based on “a good match for the jobseeker’s values, interests and skills.” There’s only one problem with this approach, Tieger says: it doesn’t work.
There are four humors found in humans, according to this ancient theory. When the humors were in balance, people are healthy; when humors are out of balance, the person gets sick. Around 400 BC, Hippocrates took this theory a step further and developed personality models based on the humors: Melancholic, Choleric, Sanguine and Phlegmatic. Although the medical humor theory is long out of the mainstream, you’ll recognize these personality descriptions; we still use them today.
Personality conflicts are a fact of life in the office. Even if a team has the same goals, they will differ on how to achieve them. Understanding your own communication style and decision process is important if you want a successful team. Even more important than self awareness, though, is your ability to adapt to the other team members’ styles when communicating with them.
As you go through the personality results, you begin to see how your style has probably been a part of you since you were very young – and how little you’ve changed over time. (You can predict your four-year-old’s behavior just as accurately as your spouse’s, can’t you?)
Paul Tieger’s Do What You Are is one of the best career advice books I’ve used. The book is organized into chapters on each of the 16 personality types of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI.) Each chapter offers a list of what makes work worthwhile for that personality type. The lists work so well because they aren’t specific to any occupation. They focus on what makes your personality type tick and where you’ll find satisfying work and people who understand you. When I coach people on career transition, I suggest that they focus on these concepts rather than salary and duties. After all, you probably know what the job involves already. What you don’t know s what the team is like – and how well you’ll fit in.