29 Jun 2017

The ‘BIG’ Personality

Hands up those of you who have someone in your team with a BIG personality. OK, that’s most of you.

For most of the time these people are great to have around, they bring dynamism, fun, character and drive into the business. These big personalities also bring other influences, for example they may suppress the contributions of others or deter useful contributions from those who are less forceful or who have given up trying to compete.

Our businesses rely on the steady flow of ideas to ensure we remain relevant, resourceful and competitive. We should be making the best possible use of the widest range of ideas that we can generate and any restriction or inhibition to this process must be reduced and eliminated where possible.

So, what is to be done?

First and foremost we want to achieve two outcomes:

  1. The retention of the dynamism and drive that big personalities bring and
  2. Ensure that everyone feels able and comfortable in contributing wherever possible

I offer the following as a guide to be modified and utilised as you see fit.

Recognition: Make the point that you value the dynamism and drive the individual brings.

The principle: In your one to one meetings with the Big Personality, raise the principle that in order to secure the future of the venture we have to make use of all competitive advantage. In this respect, our culture has to allow the uninhibited flow of all ideas and that they represent equal currency.

Ask for a commitment to this principle: “Can I count on you to uphold this?”

Your concern: Articulate your perspective that the individual’s forceful personality inhibits others from making the necessary and valuable contributions and ask what do they propose they do to allow others their say?

Agree a follow up and look for the opportunity to congratulate them for the sensitivity and collaboration.

‘Big’ Personalities are both valuable and dangerous to your business, make sure you get the good stuff and eliminate the bad.


Over the years I have worked for some of these personalities as they often rise up to the top of their organisations. Without naming names, one CEO once remarked to me “I like to employ ‘Big’ personalities and people who are difficult to work with as I find them more challenging and they make life more interesting”.

All I can say having worked with his team is; “mission accomplished”.

For more on this, consider enrolling on our Foundations of Management programme which begins in London on 19th September.