Are you a Fire, Earth, Air or Water?

Thoughts from my first Bridge Builders’ session

NOTE: Much of this blog post originally appeared on the Fahlgren Mortine blog.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the Cleveland Bridge Builders Class of 2013. According to the Cleveland Leadership Council, Bridge Builders is “a 10-month leadership development and civic engagement program for committed civic leaders.” In short, that means over the next year I hope to develop the leadership skills and local business relationships that will help me on my way to being a better leader in the office and within the Cleveland business community.

How does one become a leader? At the Bridge Builders opening retreat in September, I was eager to find out and wondered what I would learn: How to manage others? How to adjust to different personality styles? What people look for in a leader?

Instead, the session was designed for us to learn more about ourselves, stemming from the idea that becoming a better leader requires an understanding and appreciation of oneself. To help us with this process, we all took a personality-type test to find out our leadership style. The TetraMap test revealed four personalities or leadership styles – Earth, Air, Water and Fire. Earths are confident and competitive and enjoy setting goals and having control. Airs are orderly and focused and excel where systems and order are in place. Waters are caring, quiet, loyal and emotional. Fires are energizing, passionate, easily distracted and love to explore possibilities. How did I do? I scored very strongly as a Fire, and second highest as a Water.

Though I was surprised to find out I identify as a Fire, learning more about this personality type put me at ease. There’s a reason that I often start a project and then jump to another one and then another one – it’s common with Fires, and probably one reason I thrive at a PR agency where I juggle a variety of clients and types of work each day. It also explains why I’m resistant to processes and procedures – Fires work better in environments where they are permitted to explore their ideas and try a new approach to problem-solving, another reason I fit in at an agency whose mantra is “Think Wider” and believes in working together across agency disciplines to provide customized approaches to our clients’ challenges. That doesn’t mean that we’re an agency of Fires, though – as I learned in Bridge Builders, a good leader understands how to empower all personality types to get things done. TetraMap’s website shares how each personality serves an important role:

  • Earth personalities move us forward so we can achieve our goals
  • Air personalities rely on order and design processes and systems to help us work and plan together
  • Water personalities help us acknowledge diversity for our well-being and caring
  • Fire personalities inspire and excite us to create brighter futures

We learned that we all contain character traits of each personality (nobody is JUST a Water), but sometimes one trait definitely stands out. After learning about the different traits, I realized that while I may be a Fire – this personality definitely shines (no pun intended) when I’m at work, but my Water traits come out more when I’m at home or with family.

Which personality type do you think you are? Are you a different personality at work versus with your friends and family?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.