How To Communicate With A Leader With A Different Personality

I had a great conversation with a pastor in California about how to deal with a lead pastor whose personality style isn’t the same as yours.

It’s a great question, and truthfully, one most of us deal with. You’re not likely to work for someone with the same personality style you have. While a lot of leaders hire people like them, there’s still enough of a separation that each person’s style is different. Therefore, you need to discover the best way to work with one another. If both are well versed in personality styles and lean in each other’s direction, it’s not as hard. But when they’re not, try this:

  • Get to know you – You have to first get to know you! If you don’t understand yourself, you can’t really understand why you act, react and process the way you do. And the key to giving information is understanding how you receive information. Once you know this, you can adjust your style to better communicate with others — not changing who you are, just adjusting how you communicate.
  • Get to know your leader – A conversation takes two people…for most of us at least. So you need to understand the personality of the person you’re communicating with. How do they give and receive information? At what speed do they process? Do they have tendency to gather all the available information, or do they leave out the details?
  • Get to writing – As you learn the strengths and weaknesses of the person you are communicating with, you can identify the areas that will either help or hurt you. In other words, if you are a high C personality, you need details, and that makes working with a high I personality difficult. They will bring excitement, enthusiasm and motivation, but it’s also possible they will leave out some details that you consider vital. So make a list of the things you need from this person every time you communicate with them. Then check the list off as you go.
  • Get to resolve – Be sure to replay the conversation in your mind and ask yourself if you received all the information necessary for you to be successful. If not, address those points quickly.

As you do this you will set yourself up for success. But you should also work to convince your leader of the need to know their own personality style. Once they understand themselves, they can do a lot of the necessary work.

Question: How have you made adjustments to get what you need from present or past leaders?

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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

22 thoughts on “How To Communicate With A Leader With A Different Personality”

  1. Helping your leader understand their personality style is huge. I continue to talk DISC with regularity with my team and leader. The coolest part is they recently started referencing it on their own! Even the boss is doing it! To me, that was huge for our team. It shows growth and understanding of not just DISC but one another. I know this isn’t exactly on topic with today’s post but it reminded me of this so I had to share. It’s very exciting!

  2. Chris, this is a great reminder about how our leading, listening and learning styles differ. This was really crystallized for me when I changed managers about 3 1/2 years ago: the former boss was very verbal, disliked email and gave me all the information needed to complete a task when initially discussed with me. The new boss is heavily dependent upon email and gives details sometimes after the process to complete a task is underway. It took having a pretty frank conversation to let him know that I was struggling a bit because our styles differ, and now when either of us feel that we aren’t communicating clearly, we address it right away and get things back on track.

    Thanks for the great leadership topics!

  3. I feel communicating effectively is at the core of developing tenable relationships. Maxwell writes: “In any kind of relationship: The first six months – communication overrides credibility. After six months – credibility overrides communication.”

    Then, he closes that thought by writing, “Credibility is currency for communicators. With it, they are solvent; without it, they are bankrupt.”

    Also, as communicators, we need to ensure that there no barriers in the form of perception or language or misunderstanding or attitude when we deal with our leaders.

    1. I would let them know that you want to know how to work better for them and suggest it that way, that would encourage me as a boss that you wanted to learn more to be helpful! Hope it works.

  4. All good stuff. Getting to know each other is so important.

    I especially like the writing part. First, I do like clarity. But second, it memorializes the exchange that took place and you can pretty much eliminate the he said/she said stuff that happens.

  5. So true in so many situations, where you need to communicate. I especially like the writing part of things, i like details and order, and lists, so this works great for me.

  6. This is some solid advice. I work with many different types of leaders and if we are not careful we end up being easily frustrated because we do not understand each other. I’ve learned about my leader’s personality and how he likes to do things. Now that I know his personality well and mine I can make the necessary communication adjustments that work for us both.

  7. Great post! It can be difficult working with a different personality style – especially when a leader has no perception how their personality may be affecting the attitudes within the business/church. Many leaders think everyone should have a personality like THEM and resent differences…

    1. I would do a Values Profile, Strength Finders, and then really focus on why you act and react the way you do. The more I know me, the more I can change my bad habits. Now, sometimes if I manipulate someone, I tell them what I did. It’s crazy, I know. But I’m learning me.

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