Daniel Taylor April 22 2021

Facet5 and Leadership: What does my profile say about me?

In this blog from Facet5 specialist Daniel Taylor, we explore the link between Facet5 personality profiles and leadership styles.

One of the most common uses of the Facet5 profile is in support of leadership development and coaching conversations.  Leaders who understand their profiles will have a greater awareness of what their strengths are and where they need to improve. 

But what exactly do we mean when we say ‘leadership’?  Google it and you’ll get thousands of different responses and as we know, versions of leadership which are accepted have come and gone over the years for as long as we can remember.  We are often asked by clients if we can tell which aspects of the five factors align most closely with their own leadership competency frameworks; as an example, let’s take a closer look at Facet5 using the Leading Edge report. 

Based upon the model proposed by Bernard Bass in 1985, the Leading Edge report is based upon your Family profile and outlines the best ways to engage with you under seven key competency headings, falling under either ‘transformational’ or ‘transactional’.  When accrediting people I often describe it as their ‘Haynes Manual’ (other car repair guides are available, I expect…).  But how do we understand how adept we might be at exercising these competencies ourselves?  Let’s see what our profiles might say… 

WARNING: Where we have referred to specific factors only, and either a high or low score, this is neither conclusive nor prescriptive.  The aim is to give a flavour of where these competencies might exist within somebody’s profile.  Remember – the Facet5 profile aims to describe our ‘natural’ state and does not necessarily reflect our ability to adapt and learn new behaviour. 


Goal Setting 

Most organisational performance revolves around setting and agreeing goals.  The Will factor (specifically Determination) will drive how closely we might set and follow our own goals; high scorers are self-directed and tend to stick closely to their goals, whilst lower scores will remain flexible and involve others.  There is also some evidence to suggest that those who set strong goals may demonstrate higher levels of performance in the workplace. 

Setting goals for performance also requires a degree of planning and structure; we might look to the Control factor to suggest how specific and clear goals might be.  A low Control score might dictate greater flexibility in how things are done, whilst high is likely to be more specific and structured. 

Monitoring Performance 

Those high on Control are likely to be disciplined and stick to the way things are supposed to be done, which suggests that they might be best at applying a formal process to performance reviewing. Though not conclusively, low Control scorers may prefer less formal ways of doing things and tend to be less obviously organised, so be prepared to be flexible; we’ve all had a manager who keeps moving the performance review conversation, plus those who don’t book them at all! 

We suggest also taking a look at the ‘Controller’ Family profile; high Control in conjunction with lower Affection and high Will may generate a combination which focuses on continuous improvement. 

Providing Feedback (see Push vs Pull Managers) 

The blog cited above sets out how Affection likely plays a key role in feedback.  Leaders low in Affection tend to offer pragmatic support and critical feedback; the focus of their attention tends to be on task and opportunity whilst offering simple solutions, and so you may find that they get to the point more quickly but might be a little harsh. The high Affection manager sees good in most people, is trusting and forgiving; they will want to support and help wherever possible. I often speak to high Affection leaders who report finding tough performance conversations more difficult and so we work to create ways in which they can find this comfortable.

Developing Careers 

In order to be a coach and develop people, including their careers, a degree of openness and curiosity is required plus the ability to explore possibilities. High Affection scorers are more naturally orientated towards this, plus they tend to be more focused on the needs of the individual and so skills such as listening and empathy may come more easily.  If we look at the ‘Coach’ Family portrait, this can give us some clues. Low Affection scores are likely to be more pragmatic and likely to be more solution oriented, which is good if you are looking for an answer but less so if you want to talk about possibilities! 

Whilst discussing coaching, it is worth a brief mention here about the ability to listen. Affection may indicate how much interest you have in other people, but Energy and Will may also contribute to your ability to ‘let silence do the talking’; lower Energy scorers tend to listen more intently and those low on Will are interested in gathering views rather than sharing their own… 


Creating a Vision 

What does it take to be visionary?  Why do some claim to be more ‘strategic’ than others?  The leader who creates a vision needs to inspire people and be passionate; they sell the vision by appealing to the heart. There are several factors which might make a leader more prone to being strategic and visionary. Dealing with broader, higher level concepts sits more comfortably with low Control where there is a preference for broad concepts. Higher scorers prefer greater detail and find ambiguity more difficult. It is also important to consider Affection, where higher scorers will be more comfortable exploring possibilities and thinking in terms of ideals and expectations. 

When it comes to compelling communication of the vision, we might expect those with higher Energy and higher Emotionality to give the most passionate, emotive renditions of strategy; both of these factors, when higher, lend themselves well to having an open, engaging communication style. Energy will dictate how openly communicative a person can be and Emotionality means that there will be more of an emotional content to how they communicate. 

Stimulating the Environment 

This competency in Bass’ model requires leaders to provide a positive and challenging environment for others. Whether being appropriately challenging or gently supportive, leaders need to inject energy into the workplace, making it dynamic and engaging.  We can be less certain about factors here but there could be a degree of Emotionality involved to be able to ‘sense’ what is required; we know that higher scorers will be more responsive to what’s going on around them. When it comes to providing a dynamic environment, we can interpret this in a number of ways. A workplace that emphasises challenge and progress could be associated with higher levels of Energy and lower Affection, where a competitive and results-driven mood might prevail. We might also say that the Spirit of Continuous Improvement is alive and well in profiles with high Will and high Control also; it is difficult to be conclusive. 

Treating People as Individuals 

Environments which value contribution and individual strengths require leaders who are fair and focus on the needs of others.  Most leaders high in Affection are likely to demonstrate qualities like forgiveness, tolerance and support as we know that there is a natural openness and trust in others.  Those lower in Affection may be naturally more critical and results focused, which could mask any tendencies to provide help or recognition. Those with high Affection in their profiles will encourage sharing, individual contribution and ideas (see the Work Cycle in TeamScape).  In general, this will be an environment where all are welcome. 

Is it worth noting the role which Emotionality may play here; leaders high in Affection but low (<3.5) in Emotionality may not be clear enough in expressing their regard for others and so it may go unnoticed.   

Overall, we can see how various factor scores could facilitate elements of Bernard Bass’ Leadership model but we must be careful as, like any given Facet5 profile, an individual will struggle to be all things to all people.  Where we possess natural tendencies and strengths, we need to be mindful that there will other capabilities we might struggle with and so, as ever, we need to continually develop and learn new behaviours to flex our abilities when required.        

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