Boris, Jezza, Theresa and Dave – a Tale of Four Styles

Seeing real people in action is a great way to appreciate how the impact and influence of each Interaction Style works.  Our last three Prime Ministers and the leader of the Opposition, each display one of the four Styles in their public persona.  Here is my take on them:

Boris Johnson often displays the Energiser style.  Energisers move and speak quickly and appear persuasive and enthusiastic. They display engaging energy and are driven by an inner need to involve people. 

What cues suggest that Boris Johnson fits the Energiser profile? 

Well, he moves energetically, waves his arms around and often looks like he wants to embrace people. When he greets others he walks up to them confidently, as if they are his best friends, he smiles, makes direct eye contact and engages them in conversation.  His public talk is positive and encouraging.  It is hard to resist his charms. 

How does this style fit the situation?

The Energiser style is helpful when people need to be involved, when motivating others and when an upbeat, positive climate is required.  These aspects of Johnson’s style came across during the election campaign and may be partly responsible for his success. 

The Energiser style can be unhelpful when a calm, considered approach is needed and when clear decisions and plans are required.  Time will tell how well Johnson deals with these demands of his role.

Jeremy Corbyn often displays the Synthesiser styleSynthesisers move and speak quietly and appear patient and unassuming.  They display approachable energy and are driven by an inner need to get the best result possible.

What cues suggest that Jeremy Corbyn fits the Synthesiser profile?  

He tends to be quietly spoken, appears thoughtful and perhaps a little reticent.  He pauses while speaking and chooses his words carefully, sometimes trying to explain complex topics.   

How does this style fit the situation?

The Synthesiser style is helpful when the situation is complex, a lot of information has to be reconciled and when it’s important to consult people.  These aspects of Corbyn’s style came across in his attempt to find a position on Brexit that would appeal to all sides of his party and the electorate. 

The Synthesiser style can be unhelpful when a quick  decision is needed and when there isn’t much time to consider everything fully.  The ability to appear decisive may be an asset for the next leader of the Labour party. 

Theresa May often displays the Navigator style.  Navigators move and speak deliberately and appear calm and reserved.  They display focused energy and are driven by an inner need to get a course of action.

What cues suggest that Theresa May fits the Navigator profile? 

She talks and walks in a very deliberate, sometimes slow, manner.  Her body language is contained and she appears serious and reserved – she doesn’t use more words than she feels are necessary.  She exudes a sense of having things under control (though in practice this maybe wasn’t the case). 

How does this style fit the situation?

The Navigator style is helpful when a considered approach is needed, when planning a project in detail and when assessing risks.  These aspects of May’s style were evident each time she made an attempt to get Parliament to assent to her Brexit agreement with the EU. 

The Navigator style can be unhelpful when rapid action is needed, when changes are required and when other people need to be energised and enthused.  Theresa May would have benefitted from communicating more enthusiastically and projecting her persona differently to achieve the impact she wanted. 

David Cameron often displays the Mobiliser style.  Mobilisers move and speak quickly and appear straightforward and direct.  They display determined energy and are driven by an inner need to get action with results. 

What cues suggest that David Cameron fits the Mobiliser profile? 

He speaks quickly and when walking, heads straight for his target, holding himself upright and appearing confident.  When speaking, he gets straight to the point and sometimes seems impatient.

How does this style fit the situation?

The Mobiliser style is helpful in an emergency, when obstacles have to be overcome and where clarity and structure are required.  These aspects of Cameron’s style were evident when he chose to have an “in-out” referendum on EU membership. 

The Mobiliser style can be unhelpful with complex problems where many options exist, and when buy-in from others is needed.  Given that he wanted to remain in the EU, David Cameron would have benefitted from taking more time over preparing the ground for his referendum, thinking through the risks and how to sell the benefits of remaining. 

Of course, your style does not explain everything about you, but knowing what impact your natural style has on others, means you can flex it when you need to.

The What’s My Style cards are a handy guide to the four styles, the pros and cons of each, and how to flex your style to suit the situation.  Email contact@essenwood.co.uk for more details.

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