Personality Intelligence: What it is, why you need it and how to get it

From companies to countries, we have seen that the male-dominated (and often Western-dominated) leadership approach is no longer sufficient. A diverse group of people offers more, but the necessary range of perspectives can sometimes bring conflict.

On those occasions, communication is vital. Dialogue helps people understand one another and ultimately work better together. Healthy relationships exist and last because both parties can communicate with and understand each other. Just as important, though, is a kind of intelligence that embraces the whole person, or what I call intelligence of personality.

That means the full spectrum of what makes a person — their strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, values, worldview, way of thinking, feeling, acting and more. All of these components, however, are not random but a complex system. For example, our greatest strengths are often the source of our most significant weaknesses.

Personality intelligence is a person’s ability to read and respond appropriately to a person’s pattern of being. It includes but is not limited to emotional intelligence, which generally refers to a person’s ability to read another person’s emotions and respond accordingly. For example, your emotional intelligence might allow you to sense your assistant is having a bad day and ask him how he and his family are doing. Cultural intelligence generally refers to a person’s ability to read culture and respond appropriately to people from that culture.

Personality intelligence acknowledges both differences and similarities with respect and without judgment. It incorporates emotional and cultural intelligence, recognizing a person’s uniqueness and the similarities they possess with others.

A person with strong personality intelligence understands someone’s traits just as a person with cultural-intelligence understands a culture’s traits. They can read and respond to a person with empathy instead of judgment. Just as someone with cultural-intelligence will understand that a person from a different culture will interpret things differently and say something that may be confusing, personality-intelligence applies the same understanding to individuals, regardless of their external appearance.

A blueprint of personalities

Although they can be and are often misunderstood and misused in the office, when executed and implemented well, personality blueprints can be beneficial. Having a shared personality blueprint as simple as the extrovert-introvert structure can help mitigate misunderstanding and improve communication. What may have been construed previously as arrogance for not participating in lunch-time outings can now be accepted as introversion without judgment or criticism. Sam not going out to lunch with the team every day doesn’t mean Sam dislikes everyone or thinks she’s better than them, but simply that Sam needs time to recharge and be alone. Many relationships and jobs have been saved simply by the acknowledgment of extroverts and introverts.

By increasing a team’s personality intelligence with a personality blueprint, groups can experience more effective communication and stronger teamwork. At its best, implementing a personality blueprint can lead to teammates questioning their own judgments of others, assuming the best in others and regularly dialoguing when confusion and miscommunication arises. The purpose of a personality blueprint is not to box or limit a person’s potential but to acknowledge our differences, establish understanding, enrich our conversations, encourage unity and increase productivity.

This article originally appeared in Entrepreneur.