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Becoming a Better Leader Through Personality Inclusion

An interview with Dr. Nate Regier on the Process Communication Model.

What makes a good leader good? Through his new book, Seeing People Through, Dr. Nate Regier shares some of his insights on how to unleash your potential and help others do the same.

Nate Regier, used with permission
Source: Nate Regier, used with permission

Nate Regier, Ph.D., is the CEO of Next Element, a global leadership firm dedicated to bringing compassion into the workplace. He is a clinical psychologist and expert in social-emotional intelligence, interpersonal communication, and leadership. Recognized as a Top 100 keynote speaker, he is a Process Communication Model® Certifying Master Trainer. Nate is the author of three books, the most recent being, Seeing People Through: Unleash Your Leadership Potential with The Process Communication Model. He hosts a podcast called “On Compassion with Dr. Nate,” writes a weekly blog, contributes to multiple industry publications, and is a regular guest on podcasts.

Jamie Aten: Why did you set out to write Seeing People Through?

Nate Regier: The most impactful fortune cookie phrase I’ve ever seen said, “The intention is not to see through people. The intention is to see people through.” I believe leadership is about leveraging individual differences toward shared goals: seeing people through. I am one of only four certifying master trainers in the Process Communication Model, a model of how different personalities communicate and miscommunicate with each other. I’ve been living and breathing and teaching this model for 15 years, and I always wanted to write a book about it. With inspiration from the fortune cookie, I set out to write my manifesto on personality inclusion. My goal was to help any leader, in any capacity, anywhere in the world, unleash their potential and feel triumphant in their life while helping others do the same.

JA: What is the primary takeaway you hope readers will learn from reading your book?

NR: Personality is not an entitlement program, and personality diversity in not an obstacle to be overcome. It’s an opportunity to see more, be more, and do more. So many people have experienced personality assessments used as weapons or as excuses for behavior. Although learning about personality differences can increase tolerance, unless you also learn how to communicate with and motivate all the different types, you aren’t maximizing the potential inherent in personality diversity. Very few, if any, personality or communication models go to this next step. Personality inclusion, on the other hand, means developing the skills to connect, motivate, maximize, and resolve conflict respectfully with all types. This book gives leaders a new lens and behavioral toolkit to battle hypocrisy and positively address critical issues like trust, honesty, authenticity, and self-care.

JA: For our readers, could you touch on the following topics from your book:

a. How to identify your personality strengths and how those strengths become liabilities under stress

NR: Everyone has the same six personality types in them, arranged in a preferred set order like the floors of an office building. This order does not change throughout our life. Each type has specific character strengths that make us unique and can be used to deal effectively with life’s challenges. Using our signature strengths is intrinsically rewarding and gives us energy and purpose. When we are in distress, not meeting our psychological needs in a healthy way, we seek negative attention. This negative attention often involves misusing our strengths against ourselves or each other.

For example, the Thinker type is logical, responsible, and organized. In distress, these strengths morph into overthinking, failure to delegate, and obsessiveness around order, timelines, and fairness. The irony is that instead of manifesting their gift of efficiency, they actually waste time and energy on things that don’t matter. Another type, the Persister, is conscientious, dedicated, and observant. In distress, these strengths morph into pushing beliefs, criticizing others for not believing right, and becoming suspicious. The irony is that instead of being respected, they are feared and people avoid them.

PCM shows how these patterns are predictable, observable, and reversible.

b. How to meet your unique psychological needs in order to stay mentally healthy under challenging conditions

NR: Each of the six personality types in us has specific psychological needs that must be met in order to function at our best. Only one of these six applies to a person at any given time in their life. The six sets of needs are:

1. Recognition of productive work and time structure: Meet this need by organizing your time, setting goals, and tracking progress.

2. Recognition of purposeful work and convictions: Meet this need by prioritizing your efforts towards endeavors that advance your values, and following your conscience by being a living example of your convictions.

3. Recognition of person and sensory: Meet this need by nurturing relationships you care about most, taking elegant care of yourself, tending to creature comforts, and feeding your senses.

4. Contact: Meet this need by keeping things lively, fun, and upbeat. Get plenty of movement every day, and include variety in your work.

5. Solitude: Meet this need by getting time and space alone. Ask for the time you need to recharge by yourself. Balance social activities with solitude.

6. Incidence: Meet this need by getting a lot of excitement in a short period of time. Look for healthy ways to create competition and elevate the risk just enough to make it exciting. Rise to the challenge and help your team get the big win.

c. How to develop a personality maintenance action plan to overcome distress and to address it in the future better

NR: Stress starts because we can’t access a necessary part of our personality to meet life’s demands. Distress results from trying to get our positive needs met in a negative way. This explains why trying to control or discipline negative behavior is so ineffective. All it does is make things worse because it doesn’t address the underlying cause. The solution is to feed the positive need behind the negative behavior.

A successful personality maintenance plan includes three parts:

1. Know your personality. This means understanding your signature strengths and preferred style of communication. This allows you to play to your strengths and arrange communication to keep you engaged.

2. Have a distress recovery plan. The better you can anticipate and recognize your distress behavior, the better you can craft a plan to get out. This includes early knowing your warning signs, and enlisting others to help.

3. Practice self-fullness. This means knowing what motivates you and arranging to get those needs met every day in healthy ways. Being self-full is about prioritizing your wellness so that you can show up ready to serve others.

JA: What are you currently working on these days?

NR: I am passionate about personality inclusion. We’ve barely scratched the surface on this aspect of diversity and what to do about it. Personality differences interact with gender, culture, and a host of other dimensions, so it can cause a lot of confusion if we don’t understand what’s going on. For example, the Thinker type is logical, responsible, and organized. 75 percent of this type are men. That’s the gender stereotype. So what about the 25 percent of Thinker women? Is there something wrong with them because they look serious, don’t smile, and are focused on work?

My focus now is to bring awareness to the role of personality in building a more compassionate, inclusive, and engaged workplace. We continue to refine our training, coaching, and certification models to keep up with changing times and changing modes of interacting. Because communication skills are at the heart of all of this, we are confident we can make a difference. This is why I get up every day.

JA: Anything else you would like to share?

NR: I believe that diversity is part of the great design of the universe. It’s built in because we need it to survive and evolve. But because of diversity, conflict is inevitable. So conflict must also part of the great purpose of our existence. Therefore, I have to believe that the purpose of conflict is to create. It’s the energy source inherent in diversity, meant to be used to thrive, innovate, and improve our existence. The only question is; how will we use the energy of conflict? There’s a lot of conflict energy being spent in drama to destroy ourselves and each other. So what’s the alternative? Compassion. Compassion means to struggle with others in a spirit of dignity. This is how we can use conflict energy to create. Compassion means entering the struggle with others, on an even playing field, to create amazing. This is only possible when we have the tools to communicate with others who are different, even when the conversations are hard. It’s only possible when we have a compassion mindset that recognizes all humans are valuable, capable, and responsible.

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