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Strip away all the fancy language and we can all put ourselves in one of four stylistic categories.  (Look, I know that you are a really complicated human being with many unique traits that cannot easily fit into such a tiny box.  Get over yourself.  Everyone around you can certainly put you into one of these boxes.  In fact, they would love to put you in a box.)  Select the style that describes how you behave most of the time at work.

Tour de Force.

Driven, results and bottom line oriented, assertive, demanding, take charge, fearless.

You make up your mind quickly about people and issues.  You speak your mind freely, frequently and forcefully.  There isn’t anything you can’t do…and do well.  You love a good fight.  You like to direct traffic and see lots of things get done.  You like to win and will do whatever it takes.  You move fast, think fast, decide fast and get over things fast.  You appear to care more about getting results than the people who make it happen.  Doing something is better than doing nothing at all…or thinking about it too long.

The Thinker.

Analytical, methodical, meticulous, critical thinker, introverted, careful.

It takes you a long time to evaluate all the available data before you make up your mind on an issue.  You measure a million times and cut once…and it is a perfect cut.  You have an active, curious and probing mind and you enjoy spending time alone with your thoughts.  Ideas and solving problems interest you more than people.  You like to win because you’re fairly certain that you are smarter than everyone else.  You hold yourself and others to impossibly high standards and spontaneity is not your cup of tea.  Acting too quickly can lead to mistakes and you don’t do mistakes.

Jazz Improvisation.

Creative, visionary, optimistic, outgoing, eclectic, intuitive, spontaneous.

The more balls you have up in the air, the more engaged you are in your work.  You like to bounce between activities.  You like to bring people together to brainstorm about big ideas…but an action plan does not necessarily follow.  Everything is possible because you believe in the unlimited potential of the people around you.  You are playful, talkative and make others feel good about themselves.  You have a knack for finding the common ground between opposing points of view.  You like to initiate radical activities as a way to get to the mandated goals.  When things become too ordinary or routine you get bored.

Solid as a Rock.

Reliable, modest, team player, sensitive, predictable.

You are the quintessential “go-to” person at work.  You are the one who raises her hand when no one else volunteers to take on the assignment.  You take pride in how well you play with others and work hard to keep the peace.  People like being around you because you are pathologically pleasant all the time.  Conflict upsets you and you will say “yes” when you mean “no” just to avoid any problems.  The clocks can be set by your daily routine and you get a lot done as long as you don’t get off your comfortable schedule.

Recognize yourself?  Remember, we’re just looking at your predominant set of behaviors.  In reality we are not one-dimensional but we do exhibit preferred tendencies in our behavior at work.  We’ve become predictable to the people around us…for good and bad.  If your boss gives you feedback that you are a Tour de Force but she wants you to become a Jazz Improv that’s simply not going to happen.  We are who we are by this point in our lives.  But we can tone down our forcefulness.  We can even dabble in a bit of big picture thinking.

Okay, so you know yourself.  Now you need to know what to do about it.  In most cases, all these styles work just fine.  You need to play up your strengths and figure out how to minimize the downside of your style.  You also need to know that it is good to play against type sometimes.  Flex some other muscles.  You may enjoy getting out of your zone from time to time.

We can make small changes that can make a big difference.  We are human beings.  We don’t do overhauls but we can get a tune up.

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