Most people who have achieved CEO status have done so through sheer grit and hard work. They refuse to take no for an answer.

Unfortunately along the way to this position, there might have been many relationship casualties left strewn across the path towards their success.

One of the often common complaints I have heard both as a counselor and a coach, is that some of these CEOs don’t listen and for the most part, is lacking in the personality department.

When asked to elaborate on what it means to “lack personality,” the conversation tend to circle back around to not being a good listener. The word impatience is sometimes added to the conversation.

According to the DiSC profile reports, which I facilitate, only three percent of the population has the kind of personality most CEOs possess to be a successful leader. It is called the Dominant Style. It is one that is less about feelings and more about the bottom-line.

Is it any wonder that there would be an added complaint about the personality of the CEO, which for the most part is what made. Him or her the CEO in the first place.

Having said that, I believe that most CEOs can improve their “reputation” in the eyes of their subordinates if they have a better understanding of these four styles of communication.

They are as follows:

  1. People Oriented Style
  2. Action Oriented Style
  3. Content Oriented Style
  4. Time Oriented Style

1. People Oriented Style

Those that would be labeled “people oriented” communicators are those who are more about preserving relationships than almost anything else. They will go out of their way to put the feelings of others first or at least take it into consideration.

They do this because this is what they want in return for themselves. There is an axiom that I have seen played out over the years of working with various kinds of relationships and that is, people give what they want for themselves.

In this case because this category of people are more relationship oriented, they will be very relational in their interaction with others. They do so because this is what they want for themselves. Anything less than relational in tone, can feel offensive to them.

To engage them, try using feeling words. Ask them about their relationships. Empathize as best as you can with them.

By doing this, you will get more “mileage” out of your conversation, they will feel like you took the time to connect with them, which leads to a change in their perception of you.

2. Action Oriented Style

People who are action oriented communicators do not like lecture-format interaction. They are more into the bottom line. They would prefer shorter sentences with call to actions. Be clear on what you want from them or for them to do.

If you’re more the relational style CEO, you will have to adjust as much as possible in your communication style.

Being more straightforward rather than “beating around the bush” is a necessity. You will have an idea of the communication preference of this style of person because they will be more business like in their approach. They are not too much into small talk.

3. Content Oriented Style

People who are content oriented communicators are into details. They want to know the what, where, how, when and why.

This might be laborious for you especially if you are a matter-of-fact person who is more into the bottom-line.

If your personality is the action-oriented style, you will find this person draining. You won’t have the patience for their preferred way of communication. Giving them full context as to why you are making certain suggestions is important to them.

This person is not one that you are going to want to interact with too much because your patience level will be constantly tested.

It would be good if you had someone do the interaction on your behalf with some personal touch. This does not mean you should avoid them. Just be aware of what their preference is.

4. Time Oriented Style

People who are time oriented communicators are those who think they are skillful multi-taskers. They want to schedule time for interaction. They want to know how long the “meeting” will last.

Don’t see this as insubordination. It is their way of wanting to be the most efficient with the use of their time. They are good time managers.

However, this might be interpreted as impersonal. They could be accused of uncaring because they tend to put tasks above people, which could be interpreted as they not caring.

You will admire people like these for the most part because of this “commitment.” The downside is that co-workers may have ill-feelings about them and shun them. This might not be good for teamwork.

Scheduling time with them is one way of acknowledging their preferred style of communication.

Knowing about or getting help with these four communication styles of the various types of people that work for you, will help you better interact with them but most importantly, elevate your standing with them because they’ll notice. This puts a personal touch to your leadership. Your reputation will precede you and you will get more from your people.

Originally published at on April 27, 2017.

Originally published at