NJMMA Members Learn that “Personality Matters”

During the 2021 New Jersey Municipal Management Association Fall Conference, members in attendance were given the opportunity to learn that personality really does matter, especially when managers and administrators are responsible for the oversight of multiple municipal departments and individuals. Daren Kulman,Owner of The Kulman Group, spent nearly 90 minutes demonstrating how personality development is the key to emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and the recognition of interpersonal relationships.

“The best people possess initiative, they are happy, have self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy for others, and have deep social skills and are able to network,” said Kulman as he introduced the session. “When the average millennial stays at a single job for about 18 months, you need to be able to harness all of these positive attributes, while quickly determining who these individuals are and how to maximize their productivity.”

As part of the session, Kulman had those in attendance fill out and self-score a questionnaire. From the results, he split the entire group into four subgroups, based on their perceived personalities using the DISC method. The D’s, those who exhibit a personality of Dominance and get things done; the I’s, or Influencers who get things planned and coordinated; the S’s, or those who show Steadiness and promote collaboration; and the C’s, those who are Conscientious and must get it right; all participated in the same exercise to come up with a group answer to several basic questions. The results of the exercise actually proved that the process of coming to agreement on the answers, as well as the answers themselves, clearly demonstrated the personalities of each group.

After concluding the multiple layer exercise, Kulman connected the exercise to managing personalities and staff at the municipal level and measuring emotional intelligence. “Emotional intelligence is the ability to handle criticism without denial, blame excuses or anxiety,” said Kulman. “Those with high emotional intelligence tend to be the most open-minded individuals that are good listeners, don’t sugar coat the truth, and are the first to apologize when they are wrong.”

Kulman added that those with high emotional intelligence are also usually happier and more successful. They tend to understand themselves and others better, and will stay longer in positions and are more likely to become tomorrow’s leaders in the organization. In the end, he encouraged those in attendance to use personality assessments to gauge the potential of your staff. While it may not measure their skills and abilities, it sparks dialogue and allows managers and administrators to learn what makes their employees tick and how best to manage overall operations and workflows.