I have kids who are huge Star Wars fans. OK, I admit I like it too. I was always fascinated by how the storm troopers marched in unison and carried out their orders just as they were told. They couldn’t manage to really ever hit their targets, but they were excellent at following directions. They didn’t think for themselves or seem to have any opinion other than carrying out the orders of their leader. (For the biggest of fans, you know this breaks down once you get to “The Force Awakens,” but that is not the point of my story!) But that is not how the teams we lead work. Each team is made up of unique individuals that have their own thoughts and opinions and ideas.

Just as the countryside would be boring if every tree or flower looked exactly alike, our teams can look beautiful because of their uniqueness. It is important for us to see that uniqueness to really appreciate it. There are lots of ways to learn and understand our differences. One way we can do that is by learning each person’s individual strengths and weaknesses, and their personalities. You may have heard of the Myers-Briggs test or the DISC test or maybe had to take them for your employers. Here are four of our favorites:

  • The Smalley Institute’s Animal Personality Quiz gives four categories: Lion, Beaver, Otter and Golden Retriever. Each one has a unique quality and is easy to understand.
  • Florence Littauer wrote a book called Personality Plus. She describes four dominant types of personalities: sanguine, choleric, melancholy and phlegmatic. Each has its own distinctive strengths and weaknesses. There is a simple test that gives you immediate results.
  • Are you trying to encourage your team or family or others? The Five Love Languages is a great way to know how they best receive encouragement.
  • The Enneagram has gained popularity in the last few years. It gives nine types of personalities, but then goes indepth to complementary strengths and weaknesses. There is lots of information about your type number and how the types work together. This makes our inner-nerd very happy.

Whether you use one of these or something else, knowing more about those around you will give you insight on how to communicate well and how you can work together better.


Jennifer Iverson is the Leadership Content Coordinator at MOPS International. She is an organizer of things and people which also comes in handy as the mother of six children. Jennifer and her husband, Mike, live in central Pennsylvania where you can always find a warm cup of coffee brewing.