doug thorpe musings

The Spectrum of Workplace Personalities: Beyond Cool Breezes and Fog Machines

A few years ago I wrote a piece contrasting the “cool breeze” and the “fog machine”, whimsically (at least my attempt at whimsy) to illustrate extreme possibilities in the way a leader can show up at work. I think It’s time to delve deeper into that idea (minus the whimsy part).

While the “Cool Breeze” and “Fog Machine” personalities capture a fundamental aspect of workplace dynamics, the reality presents a more nuanced spectrum. Let’s dive deeper and explore the shades in between:

The Gentle Breeze: Similar to the “Cool Breeze,” these individuals are positive and solution-oriented. However, they might not be overly exuberant or outspoken. They contribute steadily, providing valuable perspectives and quietly uplifting the team spirit.

The Steady Wind: These individuals are reliable and consistent. They may not be the first to suggest new ideas, but they diligently follow through on tasks and offer unwavering support to colleagues.

The Occasional Squall: Everyone encounters occasional frustration or negativity. Unlike “Fog Machines,” however, these individuals don’t let negativity define them. They may express their concerns constructively and bounce back quickly, contributing positively to the overall atmosphere.

The Shifting Winds: These individuals can adapt their behaviour to the situation. They can be positive and collaborative with the right colleagues but may struggle with negativity or demanding personalities.

The Crossroads: Some individuals haven’t yet settled into a specific behavior pattern. They might be influenced by the dominant personalities around them, making their contribution variable.

Beyond the Individual: While individual personalities play a significant role, we must also acknowledge the impact of organizational culture, leadership styles, and team dynamics. A positive work environment can foster the “Cool Breeze” spirit, while a toxic environment can exacerbate negativity.

The Power of Choice: The statement “we have a choice each day to be either personality” is a powerful one. However, it’s important to recognize that choices are influenced by personal dispositions, work situations, and external factors.

What can we do?

  • Promote a culture of self-awareness: Encourage individuals to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, and how their behavior impacts others.
  • Develop emotional intelligence: Learning to manage emotions and respond effectively to different personalities fosters better communication and collaboration.
  • Focus on solutions: Shift the focus from judging personalities to finding constructive solutions to challenges.
  • Lead by example: Leaders have a significant influence on the team’s overall demeanor. They should embody the positive qualities they desire to see in their team.

By understanding the spectrum of personalities, promoting self-awareness, and nurturing a positive work environment, we can create teams that are not simply resilient but also thrive despite encountering “Fog Machines” along the way.

Introducing the WHY.os. Learn YOUR why, how, and what that drives your passion and motivation.


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