Are You Living Your True Colors?

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A few years back, I was struggling to come up with hiring criteria for a new position we had in our company. I knew the role and the tasks that the position entailed, but I wasn’t sure what personality traits to look for in order to make sure that person was a good match with our existing team and company culture. I mentioned the challenge to a colleague (HR manager) and she said, “You have to hire a gold!”

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“Well, you’ve got lots of green, orange and blue, but every organization needs a gold!”

“What’s with all the colors?” I thought… Then we launched into a deep discussion about Personality Dimensions (P.D.) – an assessment that helps people understand their own personality (temperament) and how to use that information to understand their talents, strengths, challenges, working style, relationship patterns and more.

In a nutshell, the P.D. assessment helps you understand the degree to which you fall into the following four color categories (temperaments). Note: We all are a composite of the four colors, but we are usually particularly strong in one or two of the colors.

  • Orange: Orange people are particularly action and freedom oriented. Words that are commonly used to describe “oranges” are: get-it-done, resourceful, adaptable, good in a crisis, tactical, good negotiator, problem solver, enthusiastic and generous.

  • Green: Green people tend to be knowledge oriented. Words that are commonly used to describe “greens” are: knowledgeable, logical, analytical, objective, planner, big picture thinker, problem solver and likes a good challenge.

  • Gold: Gold people are known for being highly dependable, hard working and having high personal and organizational standards. Words that are commonly used to describe “golds” are: responsible, loyal, service-oriented, planner, organized, goal setting, often good at time management, often good at details and tradition oriented.

  • Blue: Blue people are very relationship driven. Words that are commonly used to describe “blues” are: communicator, listener, unifier, high emotional intelligence, intuitive, big picture thinker, altruistic and good at conflict resolution.

I am particularly Green / Orange with a dash of Blue and almost no Gold. My business partner (Chris) is particularly Blue / Orange with very little Green / Gold. So, armed with this knowledge, we are much better able to parse tasks and take advantage of each other’s strengths. For example, after meetings I often ask him, “What do you think the participants thought?” While I can usually pick up on body language and cues, Chris’ high E.Q. (thanks Blue!) allows him to pick up on the things I am blind to. Or, if we have a project that involves tight time frames and lots of reporting, I take on the role of project manager, ensuring we hit the deadlines, keep the big picture in mind and deliver objective and analytical program reports.

Colors are a wonderful tool for managers, employees, educators and students alike. Managers and teachers can use colors with staff and students to enhance teamwork and interpersonal skills. Employees and students can use colors as a framework for identifying and building off their strengths, as well as a tool for understanding how their peers operate. Colors are also a helpful reference when trying to assess how individuals learn best (e.g., learning by doing, learning by reading, learning with others, learning alone, etc.). And, knowledge of one’s true colors doesn’t hurt when evaluating majors, careers and job roles for “fit.”

While there are tons of personality assessments out there, I love P.D. because the colors are easy to remember and practical to use and discuss in a group cross-cultural setting (the norm in the Gulf). There are also a number of additional resources available for helping organizations and individuals live and make the most of their colors. In particular, I am a big fan of Tom Maddron’s, “Living your Colors: Practical Wisdom for Life, Love, Work and Play.” Maddron’s book (a quick and practical read) includes a short colors do-it-yourself assessment at the beginning, followed by tons of useful advice and insights on your colors’ talents, strengths, challenges, habits, likes, dislikes and leadership style, as well as information on how your colors typically interact with those of others. He even goes into details on how your colors impact your love relationships and parenting.

As an organizational leader, coach and learning facilitator, I use colors to manage our team effectively, as a framework for helping coaching clients develop self and group awareness and as a useful tool for thinking about instructional design (i.e., creating educational trainings and programs that allow all of the colors in the room to shine!). I highly recommend P.D. for anyone that works with other people (isn’t that everyone?!) and in particular educators and managers!

Are you living your true colors?

From a Green / Orange in Dubai,

Co-Founder, Bon Education

P.S. We did end up hiring a gold, and I’ve been eternally thankful ever since!

Image available under CC License by Capture Queen

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