Personality profiles offer insight into officials’ leadership styles

Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson is likely to seek an environment where quality is more important than quantity and can “become frustrated when those around [her] tolerate mediocrity and incompetence,” according to an analysis of her leadership style.

The narrative of Commissioner Rick Hannold’s leadership profile states he is prone to “listen selectively and may tend to micro-manage” to cope with stress.

Commissioner Helen Price Johnson values team cohesiveness and tends to “avoid confrontive situations” that have little hope of resolution.

THE COMMISSIONERS and all department heads completed leadership profiles at the request of a consultant hired to “facilitate a series of conversations” around potentially changing the county’s organizational structure, according to the request for proposals for the consultant.

The county signed a contract for $32,550 with Demarche Consulting Group toward the end of April.

As part of the process, commissioners and directors filled out multiple-choice self-evaluations of preferred and under-stress behavioral styles. The results grouped them into four categories: analyzer, task master, energizer and participator. The majority of the 11 individuals evaluated fell under the “participator” description.

“That kind of look at how we operate and making sure we have a broad skill set on our leadership team … I thought that was helpful to see,” said Johnson.

HANNOLD’S SURVEY results indicate he prefers “to rely almost exclusively on [his own] impressions” of data and will “selectively ask for others’ input and involvement.” Price Johnson’s narrative states she dislikes “prolonged intensity of any kind, be it with people, task volume, or risk-taking.” She is considered “people-focused” and values positive group dynamics.

Public Health Director Keith Higman is described as a “people pleaser who gets bored when required to work alone or with people [he doesn’t] know for extended periods.” Though the report says he can typically be described as “sincerely supportive and very sensitive,” his results suggest he transitions to a “task master” under stress. This means he pushes for quick results and wouldn’t hesitate to “become assertive or confrontive to get individuals or the group into a high task mode.”

“I suppose that’s accurate depending on how much stress I’m operating under,” Higman said of his results. “I absolutely am a people pleaser,” he said later. “I probably care too much about what people think.”

HUMAN RESOURCES Director Melanie Bacon was also described as a participator under both preferred and stressful situations. Her results say she is “uncomfortable with negative emotions.” While Bacon said she’s so far been satisfied with the consultant’s work, she did take a little issue with her narrative.

“I like to think of myself as being a little tougher than it implied that I was,” she said with a laugh.

Johnson, however, said the more she thought about hers, the more accurate she decided it was. She is described as an analyzer but a “flexible participator” when under stress.

Johnson said it’s true that in difficult situations, she will seek as much input from others as possible.

“I was surprised with how closely aligned the outcome was with what my truth was,” she said.

Higman said, as a people-oriented person, he felt he can figure out what makes people comfortable and uncomfortable at work without looking at survey results.

“I think it’s always helpful to understand more about the people you work closely with,” he said.

“I suppose a personality profile is one way to do that.”

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