Understanding self, others key to success

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Len Sobieski
  • ARPC Chief, Program Management Office Directorate of Future Operations and Integration
As I approach my first anniversary of joining the Air Reserve Personnel Center team, I've had an opportunity to get to know individuals from all of the directorates, at all levels, both on and off duty. 

Whether bowling or playing softball with my fellow Airmen or facilitating personnel services delivery process redesign workshops, I've been reassured that we all have our uniqueness. And, while one personality style is certainly no better than any other, it certainly affects our ability to relate to one another and a team's productivity. 

How we relate to our coworkers, friends and family is largely dependent on our personality. What might be a fun-filled discussion of different opinions to one might be a stressful argument to another. 

The reality is that the combination of all of our personalities enables our mission to be accomplished optimally; however, getting to that point is not always a simple transition. 

First, before people can know how best to work with others, it helps to self-reflect and understand their own personality style. 

We all reflect and get feedback on occasion and have a pretty solid understanding of who we are. There are several methods of personality profiling that help individuals better understand their characteristics and tendencies. Of course, the whole point of knowing is to understand strengths and weaknesses and to ultimately learn to be more flexible with others and more tolerant of their weaknesses too.

Conflict is normally a direct result of individual weaknesses. Knowing your weaknesses can help avoid conflict, and, having the educated ability to identify the personality traits of others helps you understand why they react the way they do. 

For instance, knowing someone has a characteristic of being indecisive can help you know how important it is to work with them to make sure everyone's input has been considered. It is not only important but probably the only way to get this team-oriented person to make a decision and avoid having a problem getting the job done. On the other hand, knowing someone has a characteristic of being impatient can help you know that starting and ending tasks or meetings on time is important to this member's focus and ability to effectively contribute. 

Unfortunately, while you can always take the time to know your own personality style, team scenarios don't always afford the opportunity to know another person's. This is evident in many of the process redesign workshops where many subject matter experts, policy coordinators and information technology representatives work on a common goal of transforming personnel services delivery to a tiered model. The individuals rarely have previous working relationship and have to perform in a very short period of time. 

Having a better understanding of and being able to identify different personality styles enables us to be empathetic to others' needs and ultimately allows the team to achieve its peak performance. 

We are all part of the same team and working toward the same goal. 

I look forward to continuing to getting to know my ARPC team members both on and off duty, and take pride in being a part of achieving peak performance in our mission.