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09.29.05 Issue #186  
A Strength Overused Becomes a Weakness

Dr. Nancy Haller
Executive Coach
McKenzie Management

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This leadership ‘formula’ can be applied to any trait.

For example, being precise and exacting leads to success, especially in a profession such as dentistry. But when it is ‘overused’, this personality style becomes mired in unnecessary details and misses the ‘big picture’. A case of seeing the trees but not the forest.

What’s important for effective leadership is keeping the right balance. That requires an awareness of your stylistic tendencies, and a knowledge of when to adjust behavioral preferences.

Below is a brief description of four common styles. It is important to remember that no style is “right” or “wrong” and that you can “flex” your style depending on the task, the people, and the situation.  You may discover that you have more than one style. The strongest is called your “dominant” style; the secondary is called your “back-up” style.



  1. Accepts challenges and likes to challenge others

  2. Clear, direct, and to the point
  3. Confident and comfortable in managing problems

  4. Focuses on immediate results/actions
  5. Takes charge of difficult situations through strong initiatives


  1. May be overwhelmingly accomplishment-driven, burning others out with constant “urgencies”
  2. May be too brief, blunt, or “cold”
  3. May dominate conversations (one way communicator), frequently interrupt, and/or be a poor listener
  4. May be overbearing, and inspire fear
  5. May be impatient with “slower learners” and/or unfairly expect immediate responses from others (who need time to think)



  1. Very friendly and engaged with employees

  2. Generates optimism and enthusiasm

  3. Is persuasive, convincing, and positive
  4. Gives the impression of success and confidence

  5. Shows tenacity in dealing with problems and challenges


  1. May be too sensitive, too agreeable, too trusting, too flexible, and/or personally attached (trying to be “a friend”)
  2. May make or imply “promises” just to be liked and/or to make an employee happy
  3. May talk too much and oversell ideas
  4. May miss facts and details, and speak without adequate preparation
  5. May give more information than necessary, causing confusion or more problems



  1. Patient, listens actively and probes for an empathic understanding

  2. Is easy going and creates a relaxed atmosphere

  3. Is a steady and calm teacher/coach
  4. Is loyal and trustworthy with employees

  5. Shows genuine sincerity and interest in others


  1. May be taken advantage of by being too quiet or passive

  2. May avoid confrontations, especially with “strong personality types”
  3. May give too much “slack” time for others to adjust
  4. May need too much personal attention or security/comfort in situations
  5. May be too forgiving of others’ shortcomings or hold a grudge when “burned”



  1. Provides precise expectations and standard operating procedures
  2. Approaches problems systematically and logically
  3. Is very well prepared and organized

  4. Reduces risks with thorough analyses and contingency plans
  5. Controls emotions, subjective thinking, and abrupt changes




  1. May impose unrealistically high standards on new learners

  2. May be too critical and fault-finding (e.g., a nit-picky perfectionist)
  3. May be excessively detailed and over-emphasize things in writing
  4. May be too cautious or over-analytical and miss “golden opportunities”
  5. May be slow to trust others and/or seen as an untrusting “worry wart”. Can be seen as withdrawn and personally evasive/rigid

Think of your personality style like a radio dial. If the volume is too soft or too loud, the music isn’t as pleasant as when the audio is adjusted correctly. To be an effective leader you need the right style at the right time so that it is at the right level for your patients and your staff.

If you need help adjusting the ‘volume’ on your leadership style, contact Dr. Haller at

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