What is at the heart of so many issues that impede performance in an organization? Presenteeism, lack of employee engagement, resistance to change, team dysfunctions – all these things, and more, can get in the way of maximizing organizational potential. Much has been written about how to deal with such issues, but without understanding the emotional dynamics that underly them, we can only deal with the symptoms without getting to their roots. In contrast, if leaders and managers have a better understanding of the personality traits and needs of employees, they are better equipped to interpret and manage performance problems, as well as to communicate in ways that speak more effectively and directly to employees.

How, then, can they arrive at this understanding?

The Striving Styles Personality System, which evolved from Carl Jung’s theories about Psychological Type, was developed in 2008 by Dr. Anne Dranitsaris, Ph.D. It differs from other personality typing methods (eg. the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) in that it does not just determine the test-takers’ personalities, but includes a component crucially important in this context – the understanding of how each personality type is motivated, and of the needs that must be satisfied for them to achieve their full potential.

Additionally, it incorporates emotional intelligence as seen from the perspective of the new brain science; what this means is that it does not shy away from discussions about emotions and needs, unlike other systems which try to sound too “objective” and tend to avoid the idea that people might be motivated by their emotions. While these other systems do provide an understanding of personality preferences, employees are often introduced to the theory in a workshop, only to forget what their personality type was and what it meant.

What are Striving Styles?

Striving energies are innate energy centers in the brain that move us to activity and organize our behaviour toward a goal. They are observable patterns of behaviour that can easily be recognized as a “Striving Style”. There are eight Striving Styles and everyone has a dominant Striving Style which is the most natural for them to use.

Our predominant need and the priority of our other needs are hard-wired in our brains from birth. It is these needs that form our personality and the way we interact with the world. While all the striving styles are available to us, and while they all have a role in our development –

when we use our favorite, or most potent, Striving Style, we are most likely to be engaged, optimistic and able to achieve our potential.

In contrast, when we are forced – whether by peers, managers, or cultural norms – to adopt and overuse behaviors associated with less preferred Striving Styles, our confidence and self-esteem suffers. When our predominant need cannot be met, or when our goals are not achieved through use of our primary Striving Style, counterproductive behavior patterns set in.

Understanding this is key to dealing with dysfunctional behavior in an organizational setting, since employees who are stressed, insecure or unmotivated do not a healthy, creative and innovative workplace make. Self-awareness consequently does not just benefit the individual employee, but also ensures organizational health.

What the Striving Styles does is allow us to understand how individuals behave when they are self-actualizing (using their dominant Style) and how they behave in “self-protective” mode (when they don’t feel safe, are primarily using a Style that is not their natural one, or are just trying to survive). It also allows those of us who are leaders and managers to determine if their employees are fully engaged or just showing up, and to more effectively handle employees who are displaying self-protective behavioral patterns.

Some of the ways that the Striving Style Personality System can be used in organizations include:

Team Dynamics. If a team member’s predominant need is not being met on the team, they will engage in counterproductive behavior that detracts from the team’s potential to achieve its assigned goals. Understanding the predominant needs of each team member (as well as those of the team leader) not only provides insight into how well each of the members will integrate into the team but also helps the team leader to better lead and motivate the team.

Presenteeism. The ability to satisfy our predominant need gives meaning and purpose to our work lives. The problem is when employees lose their full capacity to use their predominant striving energies and instead become dependent on others to tell them what to do; when this happens, they lose their sense of being fully engaged in their work and simply “show up”. The Striving Styles Personality System can help leaders and managers understand the behaviours associated with engaged employees, as well as create circumstances where employees will work to get their needs met, ultimately reducing presenteeism and increasing motivation.

Development.Many people do not understand how to satisfy their own needs and so they expect the organization they work for to provide them with that satisfaction. Employees whose sense of entitlement outstrips their actual achievements tend to have trouble with anything that does not make them “feel” good. In contrast, employees who understand what their predominant need is (and how to satisfy it) are able to take a hand in their own development, which also makes change easier, since it is self-initiated.

Leadership. The Striving Styles Personality System identifies the psychological need that primarily drives the behavior of the individual in the leadership role, and how that manifests in day-to-day life in an organization. This allows leaders to determine if they are behaving in a self-actualizing manner, or if they are behaving in a self-protective manner that gets in the way of their effectively fulfilling their role. They can also capitalize on this information to build the emotional intelligence that is crucial for a leader who wants to motivate his followers.

Anne Dranitsaris, Ph.D brings a lifetime of study, psychological savvy and hands-on clinical experience to helping people become who they are meant to be. Her interest in creating mental health coupled with her interest in personality systems and the dynamics of human behaviour has influenced the development of Striving Styles Personality System™.With a profound interest in human psychological and personality systems, she built a thriving psychotherapy practice. Her approach had a strong psycho-educational perspective focusing on the interplay between personality systems and thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviors; finding patterns of self-protective behavior that limit the capacity for achieving one’s potential. She later integrated the world renowned Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program into her practice opening an holistic psychotherapy center with a focus on using mindfulness training in a therapeutic context.Seeing how her clients were affected by their leaders and workplace culture, Anne became one of Toronto’s first Executive Coaches in the late 1980’s. She could see the direct application of the therapeutic tools into the corporate world, which drove her to expand her work into that realm. Anne began using the title of corporate therapist to indicate the depth with which she worked with leaders and teams developing emotional intelligence, behavioural competence, and relationship skills in organizations. She has also uses her unique approach to work through dysfunctional relationships, partnerships, teams and boards. This approach included assessing, educating, training, and coaching to develop greater self-awareness, awareness of others, improved team dynamics and overall corporate functioning.A prolific and frequently cited writer on the impact of behaviour, emotional intelligence and personality styles in the workplace, she has written a series of books on personality type based on Jung’s theory of Psychological Type. The Personality Profile Series© books are used to help individuals in coaching and counseling to understand themselves, their environment, their partners, and their children. Her latest series of books, The Jung Typology series, focuses on understanding the impact of personality type on employees, teams and leaders.Striving Styles Personality Assessment has been prominently featured in the media, on radio, television as well as in a wide range of national and international publications including USA Today, the New York Post, Huffington Post, The Toronto Star, NOW Magazine, Globe and Mail and TIME.com where Dr. Dranitsaris was referenced in November 2009 as one of Oprah’s next protégés. Additionally, her work has appeared in three issues of “O” Magazine within the past year, with her article on Striving Styles being including in the “O” Annual as one of the year’s top articles.
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