Your Personality Is Fluid: Choose Your Containers Wisely

If you’re a personality test junkie, I’ve got some bad (and good) news: Personality is fluid.

According to personality science, people change their behavior as a response to situational factors, their moods and mindsets, or their goals. In fact the idea that people can adapt how they show up is the entire premise of leadership development and coaching. Who you are at work may be very different from who you are in your romantic partnership, which may be different from who you are when you’re playing competitive sports. For example.

I’m not citing my sources because my Conscientiousness on the Big 5 is only moderate (Kidding! Kinda. Also see Wiki on self fulfilling prophesies).

Here’s the gold in personality’s meltyness, from an influence and leadership perspective: You get to choose.

And choose we must! (or something else chooses for us)

What qualities serve you depend on your goals and the context. And of course personal preference. Some people feel totally inauthentic displaying certain traits, like warmth, excitement, or dogged results focus. Similarly we may feel right at home in some environments and a total black sheep in others.

Here’s a rundown of 4 basic personality types from the popular DiSC assessment:

  1. Dominance: Emphasizes accomplishing results and “seeing the big picture.” They are confident, sometimes blunt, outspoken, and demanding.
  2. Influencer: Emphasizes influencing or persuading others. They tend to be enthusiastic, optimistic, open, trusting, and energetic.
  3. Steadiness: Emphasizes cooperation, sincerity, loyalty, and dependability. They tend to have calm, deliberate dispositions, and don’t like to be rushed.
  4. Conscientiousness: Emphasizes quality and accuracy, expertise and competency. They enjoy their independence, demand the details, and often fear being wrong.

You can take the assessment or take a guess: Which of the 4 do you tend toward in your work? What type do you most enjoy coming from? What additional type(s) would support your effectiveness? What “container(s)” and group structures are most supportive — because they jive with or complement your natural preferences?

Fluidity doesn’t mean you ought to be 100% adaptable. In fact trying to do and be it all is generally less effective. Choose containers and roles that support your preferences and lean on people/structures/routines that complement your dominant qualities, so you don’t have to do it all.

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