The four types of colleagues we meet at work

Apr 27, 2023
The four types of colleagues we meet at work

Find Your Superpower newsletter 011

Read time: 4 minutes

Topics covered: Personality types, organizational psychology, communication


❌ “They are very nice, but can they lead a team?”

❌ “OK enough of the vacation photos! Can we get to work already?”

❌ “Why do they keep talking so big? We need to focus on the KPIs.”

❌ “I can’t decide based on the executive summary, I need more data.”


If you’ve ever heard statements like these at work, you’re not alone. They describe four classic personality types that can be found in every workplace, as described by the Bolton and Bolton social style model:

  • the ANALYTICAL - systematic, data-driven, risk-adverse, slow decider
  • the DRIVER - assertive, extroverted, practical, decisive
  • the EXPRESSIVE - storyteller, impulsive, responsive, charismatic
  • the AMIABLE - sympathetic, kind, inoffensive, reliable, trustworthy 


In the fourth episode of The Science of Work podcast, I chat with Carolyn-Chin Parry, digital innovation leader at PwC Singapore, on the topic of “The Four Types of People We Meet at Work”.

“Sometimes, you may find a low-performing employee whom you know is really incredibly smart and gifted, but perhaps has a wrong alignment because of the job description,” Carolyn explains. “And when they make a switch, suddenly, they are just thriving.”

“The right person in the wrong seat,” I add.


🔴 THE ANALYTICAL: ask-directed & task-oriented

As Carolyn explains, the analytical personality type is someone who is highly task-oriented. Because they are focused on their work, they may be less interested in how your weekend or holiday went, as they basically get into work to do work.

This personality type exhibits ask-directed assertiveness, and so they tend to ask questions, but these questions tend to be about the task at hand.

“This is someone who is extremely detailed and thorough, and extremely risk-adverse. They will be less likely to make decisions quickly (without all of the available information),” Carolyn notes.


🔴 THE DRIVER: tell-directed & task-oriented

The driver is naturally assertive and occasionally may be described as being a bully at work or an alpha personality.

While this personality type may sound like someone less pleasant to work with, people naturally gravitate to them in times of crisis and need. They are the ones who will step up to deliver on a difficult deadline or a challenging project scope, and they are practical and decisive when it comes to decision-making.

“Let’s get on with it, let’s cut to the chase,” Carolyn explains.


🔴 THE EXPRESSIVE: tell-directed & people-oriented

Warm, charismatic and friendly, expressives are natural storytellers, but they prefer to share personal stories with others, as opposed to the task itself.

“Quite often they are a little less focused on deadlines, because they are very driven by expressing ideas and what the future holds,” Carolyn says.

“They are 10-20 years ahead of everyone else. They are fantastic to have when you want to think of future products, where the world will be, what you want to think about for the future.”


🔴 THE AMIABLE: ask-directed & people-oriented

The amiable personality type is someone who is warm and fuzzy. They are the people you like to have around you, and they make fantastic team members because they appreciate their teammates and take care of them.

“They are the empaths. The amiable links everyone to each other. This is definitely the superglue that helps to unite the team,” Carolyn explains.


Building high-performance teams

In the podcast, Carolyn delves into the strengths and weaknesses of each personality type, and explains how the combination of all of four personality types results in a high-performance team.

Whether you’re a new employee or a seasoned veteran, this episode is sure to give you insights into:

✅ Being adaptable when working with different personality types

✅ Building high-performance teams that include all personality types

✅ Hiring for alignment to the role based on an individuals personality type


Thanks for reading issue 011 of my weekly Find Your Superpower newsletter.

See you next week.


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