Tag Archives: personality type

Working with diversity in thinking, learning and interpersonal styles

Elisabeth Goodman, 9th May 2020

I’ve been doing a bit of reading and thinking about the impact of diversity in how we think and learn and how this might play out in our interactions with each other at work, or indeed at home.

A look at Neurodiversity

There is a lot that we can learn from people who are described as ‘neurodiverse’, given, as Nancy Doyle (2019) says, that:

It is estimated that just 59% of people can be considered “neurotypical”. With prevalence data like that, we have to assume that neurodiversity is a natural variation within the human species.

People who are ‘neurodiverse’ include those “with autism, Asperger’s, dyslexia, ADHD. They have a cognitive profile of extreme strengths and weaknesses and in how they think, and in how they interact with others. People who are ‘neurotypical’ tend to score about the same on all measures of their cognitive profiles.

According to Genius Within , the cognitive strengths of the ‘neurodiverse’ cover a plethora of intellectual and interpersonal skills (or intelligences) such as problem solving, holistic thinking, verbal skills, visual thinking, mechanical skills, creativity, attention to detail, hyperfocus, empathy, persistance etc.

The list represents all the different skills that we would want in the workplace the difference being, Doyle (2019) suggests, that individuals who are ‘neurodiverse’ will specialise in some of these, whilst those who are ‘neurotypical’ might be more generalist. Or would they?

Insights from personality tools and learning styles

We have a vast choice of personality tools available to us to help us understand our individual strengths and those of others.

MBTI summary slide

MBTI summary slide from RiverRhee’s training courses, with illustrations by Nathaniel Spain

What we can learn from personality tools is that we are all diverse in terms of which cognitive and interpersonal skills come to us most naturally, and which ones we have learnt to develop over time.

Kolb, and Honey and Mumford add yet more perspectives to this in terms of our different learning styles such as:

  • experiential or activist
  • reviewing or reflecting
  • concluding or theorising
  • planning or pragmatism

Are we simply talking about different types of intelligences?

In digging deeper on this whole subject, as part of carrying out my research for my PG Certificate in Business and Personal Coaching, I came across Watagodakumbura (2014).  His focus is on the need to address all of these differences in terms of education.

He quotes, amongst other really useful things, a range of intelligences: linguistic, spatial, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal and interpersonal, naturalistic and existential.

Watagodakumbura also reminds us, as Grandin (2013) does, that a lot of the differences in our cognitive and interpersonal skills can be related to differences in brain development. This opens up further questions for me about what we are born with, and what we can develop over time.  What role does neuroplasticity for instance play in all of this?

Conclusion: So what can we do with this understanding of diversity?

I personally find this whole area tremendously fascinating and exciting.  There is so much we can learn about ourselves and the people around us.

We can use this knowledge in a way that is enriching for ourselves and to enhance our interactions with others. We can make conscious choices about how to develop ourselves, and how to take advantage of opportunities that make the best of our strengths.

There is so much more to learn about this area.  I’m looking forward to finding out more.



Doyle, N (2019). Making the invisible visible – supporting neurodiversity in the workplace. Personnel Today, 1st Feb. https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/making-the-invisible-visible/ (Accessed 9th May 2020)

Genius Within – https://www.geniuswithin.co.uk/infographics-and-literature/neuro-diversity-venn-diagram/ (Accessed 9th May 2020)

Grandin, T. and Panek, R. (2013). The Autistic Brain. Rider Books.

Honey and Mumford – https://www.open.edu/openlearn/ocw/pluginfile.php/629607/mod_resource/content/1/t175_4_3.pdf (Accessed 9th May 2020)

Kolb – https://www.simplypsychology.org/learning-kolb.html (Accessed 9th May 2020)

Watagodakumbura, C. (2014). The need to address psychological and neurological characteristics of learners in the mainstream education system. Journal of Studies in Education, Vol 4(1), 94-108

About the author

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, through courses, workshops and one-to-one coaching, and with a focus on the Life Sciences. RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus.

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting teams on a global basis.  She is developing her coaching practice, with a focus on helping individuals to develop management, interpersonal and communication skills, and to deal with change.

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of the APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

Elisabeth is also a member of the ICF (International Coaching Federation) and is working towards her PG Certification in Business and Personal Coaching with Barefoot Coaching and the University of Chester.

Dealing with the dark side of our personalities!

By Elisabeth Goodman, 9th November 2017

Current approaches to management put emphasis on identifying and developing our strengths.  And rightly so.  Our individual strengths give us the opportunity to make significant contributions in our home and work lives.  The diversity of strengths within a team contribute to the success of organisations.

Personality tools such as Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and others likewise put an emphasis on understanding and developing our strengths.

However, we also have a “dark side” to our personalities!

In Belbin language these are our “allowable weaknesses”, in MBTI language it is our “blind spots”.  The Hogan Development Survey (HDS), described by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic in the September-October 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review (see note 1 below), focuses entirely on eleven of these “dark side” traits.

From weaknesses and blind spots to the dark side…

The HDS survey is based on the work of Robert and Joyce Hogan, two psychologists who, about 20 years ago, identified aspects of personality that, if unchecked, can derail interactions at work, individual careers, and the effectiveness of teams and organisations.

Dark side traits taken from the Hogan Development Survey

The eleven traits are categorised under three headings:

  • Distancing traits – ones that push people away by making it hard to build trust
  • Seductive traits – ones that pull people in but, if overdone, can then have negative or destructive consequences
  • Ingratiating traits – that can impress others, but result in self-harm through being too submissive

It can be difficult to know where to focus our attention with so many personality tools out there.  The HDS traits have some echoes of the Belbin Type Roles and their “allowable weaknesses”, and of the MBTI personality types and the “blind spots” that people might experience.

Word cloud generated from words used to describe Belbin “allowable weaknesses”

But the most important take-home lessons from all of this are probably to:

  1. Be aware of when the “dark side” of your strengths may be having a negative impact on yourself or on others
  2. Develop some strategies for minimising these negative effects

Strategies for minimising the negative effects of our “dark side”

The Harvard Business Review article references a few strategies which could apply to any definition of personality weaknesses.

The first thing is to be aware of our actual or potential negative traits and the impact it may be having on others.

Resources available to us are:

  • Reflection on situations that did not work out as well as we would have liked and whether our own behaviour triggered that
  • Ad-hoc feedback from others
  • More formal feedback e.g.
    • 360 degree questionnaires
    • Observer input available through Belbin questionnaires
    • The HDS survey

The MBTI personality type descriptions also provide a rich source of information about some negative characteristics that might emerge when we are feeling mildly stressed or severely so (“in the grip”).

All of these are ways to build your emotional intelligence (self and social awareness) about yourself and your interactions with others.

Identify and practise some new strategies to help you deal with your “dark side”

As with all endeavours to do something new or different, it’s a good idea to start small and build from there.

Pick something you feel most motivated to do something about, and something you can relatively easily put in place.

So, for example, using some of the words above, if you have a tendency to:

  • Be overly sceptical (an HDS trait, the allowable weakness of a “Monitor Evaluator” in Belbin Team Roles and a characteristic of MBTI “extraverted thinking” types). The impact of that on others is that they may feel discouraged or defensive about sharing ideas with you.  You may want to choose an area of your work, or a specific occasion, to deliberately demonstrate greater openness to others’ views.
  • Lose touch with reality (Belbin “Plant”, HDS “Imaginative” trait), MBTI “extraverted intuition”).  The impact of that on others is that they may get impatient with you, or not pay attention to you. You could identify a typical situation when this might happen, perhaps a weekly team meeting, and focus on demonstrating greater collaboration with others.

You could also ask a helpful colleague or friend to alert you when they see you demonstrating one of your negative traits, and support you in whatever corrective action (“self-management” or “relationship management”  in emotional intelligence terms) you’ve identified.

Don’t be shy about asking for help from others

There are a few suggestions above about how feedback and support from others could help you detect and address your “dark side”.

Coaching is also an option.  The MBTI coaching and emotional intelligence resources are rich with tips on how to deal with “blind spots” and developmental challenges associated with the MBTI Types.


  1. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.  Could you personality derail your career?  Harvard Business Review, September-October 2017, pp.138-141
  2. About the author. Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.) Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. 

    She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

The mindset for Open Innovation – at “Open Innovation in Action” SBC OI summit

By Elisabeth Goodman and Lucy Loh

We had the opportunity to lead a break-out session at the recent Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) Open Innovation summit.  It was a day filled with interesting presentations, panel discussions, networking and break-out sessions.

Open Innovation is all about people

Our session was one of the last in the day, so that delegates had had several opportunities to hear and reflect about the question of mindsets and the importance of soft people skills by the time they came to our break-out.

Stefan Lindegaard (@lindegaard) drew our attention to this in a big way in his presentation, when he stressed some of the key characteristics for success as being a networker, communicator, intrapreneur, and an influencer.  Also on his list was the ability to adapt, to tolerate uncertainty and to be an optimist.

The intrapreneur was particularly important in making things happen within the company by paying attention to people and creating the right conditions for innovation.

The pre-lunch panel session exploring the highs and lows of Open Innovation also homed in on the key characteristics for OI.

(By the way, some of the words have lost their associations in the word cloud – such as ‘not control freaks’ and being willing to ask difficult questions’ and ‘admit ignorance, whilst the reference to the bar – is about the place for carrying out negotiations!)

The mindset for open innovation is also about personality types

One of the participants in our break-out pointed out that it was also a question of people’s character when we asked them what the right mindset might be.  That was a great segway for our presentation, which explored two models.

In our first model Elisabeth reflected on how some of the personality type preferences described in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator are particularly relevant to different stages of (Open) Innovation, but that an organisation needed a blend of all personality types to be successful.

We need to find some unique individuals for successful Open Innovation

In our second model Lucy shared the results of her research into mindsets for innovation, and concluded that to be successful, organisations needed to seek out some unique characteristics.

The break-out closed with some final thoughts from the participants, who thought passion to keep going through the ups and downs, and the ability to listen to and understand others’ language and frames of reference were key to successful collaboration in Open Innovation.

Our full presentation is available on Open Innovation in Action – SBC OI summit website.


Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting (http://www.riverrhee.com), a consultancy that helps business teams to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. Elisabeth has 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry where she has held line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and in Lean Sigma and is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals), and APM (Association for Project Management).

Lucy Loh is the Owner and Principal Consultant at Lucy Loh Consulting (http://uk.linkedin.com/in/lucyloh), a consultancy that helps businesses and organisations develop their business plans, and manage change in their organisations and teams to be able to deliver those plans.  She is also a RiverRhee Consulting Associate.  Lucy has 25 years’ experience in BioPharma, where she has held management roles in strategy development and all aspects of performance management, as well as extensive internal consulting.  Lucy has expertise and experience in organisation development, benefits management and in designing and leading business change. She is a certified Master Practitioner of NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP), which enhances her work in change management and individual coaching.  She is also an accredited trainer with the Institute of Leadership and Management for Strategic Leadership.