The Power of Personality Profiling

For leaders, understanding and knowing how to manage different personality types at work is vital for creating high-performing teams.

People collaborating on a white board

One way to achieve this is by using ‘personality profiling’ tools, which can help organisations learn more about their employees; including personal attributes, values, life skills and communication styles.

For more than 25 years, Tanya Perry has been working with organisations to harness the power of personality profiling.
On a recent episode of Levelling up: Your leadership podcast, Tanya shared the methodology behind her preferred personality profiling tool, and how it can help leaders become more effective communicators.

“It’s really about understanding human nature a bit better,” she said. “I prefer to approach profiling from the perspective of first having a better understanding of our own communication preferences, and then moving to understanding the preferences of others.”

Finding your avian alter-ego

When working with her clients, Tanya uses former University of Adelaide Alum Des Hunt’s internationally-recognised profiling tool, ‘Tick’.

After completing a 10-12-minute questionnaire (which can be taken online, or in Des’ book), users are placed in one of four distinct quadrants, which are named after different species of bird: the peacock, dove, eagle and owl.

The horizontal axis measures extroversion through to introversion, while the vertical axis measures whether you’re a ‘people-focused person’, or a ‘task-focused person’.

But while each of us fit within a quadrant, Tanya stresses that the Tick test is not about “putting someone in a box”.  

“Des makes it very clear in his book that we fit across all four of the quadrants; but we just have preferences we feel more comfortable with,” she said.

The four personality ‘types’ identified by Des include:

The Peacocks: People-focused extroverts

“These are the people who love to chat, they’re enthusiastic, you know when they’re in the building,” Tanya said.

“The peacocks are the people who really are front and centre — they like to talk to other people, and they feel very comfortable doing it.”

The Doves: People-focused introverts

“Doves are the carers on the team…they care about other people, and they have concern for others,” Tanya said.  

“They’ll remember if you’ve got a relative who’s not very well, and they’ll ask you how they are.”


The Eagles: Task-focused extroverts

“Eagles are the big picture thinkers…these people are not keen on detail, or too much chat — they like to get things done,” Tanya said.

The Owls: Task-focused introverts

“These are our details-focused people on the team. They dot every ‘i’, cross every ‘t’, they know where everything is and they’re very organised,” Tanya said.

Adapting your leadership style

According to Tanya, knowing your own and your colleague’s avian alter-ego can help you to communicate with people who don’t think and communicate like you do — which delivers powerful benefits.

“His [Des’] book is about showing us how we can reach out to the other styles, so we communicate really powerfully with those people too,” she said. “Communicating with another person in a way that helps them to feel at ease with you can yield enormous business for every leader.”

There are many ways to do this, Tanya said.

“How about you try asking a dove how they are, and listen to the answer, before you start listing off your needs.

“Or, what about providing data to an owl…and even going so far as to make an appointment with them before appearing at their door asking ‘have you got a minute’ — owls are never fond of that; they like to be organised and prepared so they can give you their full concentration.

“Peacocks need to feel involved and excited about what you’re asking of them…and with an eagle — just get to the point. No small talk, they’re ready to go!”

Another benefit of understanding the communications preferences of others is that it can provide you with confidence and practical guidance on the best way to approach difficult conversations and provide feedback.

“It shows you how to communicate confidently even when you’re under pressure,” Tanya said.

“So, having challenging conversations and negotiations also become a bit easier…by adjusting your style, you can help them to listen to what you have to say and the improvements you need them to make.”

Want to learn more about personality profiling and how it can help you to communicate with more influence and impact in the workplace? Upskill with a relevant short course from Professional and Continuing Education. Explore upcoming courses today.

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