What is the use of personality types in crisis management teams?

Author: Manu Steens

Sometimes people wonder who would be a suitable crisis manager or spokesperson, or crisis information manager or crisis communication manager, and so on.

In effect, one asks, “Is my character suitable? Am I the right ‘type’?”

As indicated in most of the literature, questions are usually asked in teams about competences and talents, rather than about character types. That question is usually dodged. The reason for this is that competencies can be developed and talents can be optimally utilized. But a bad character remains a bad character. A personality is fully formed by the time the person goes to work. One personality scale that can be used to evaluate candidates on their personality is that of Millon.

In my view most personalities have character traits that are useful for working in crisis teams and at the CMT.

However, some personality traits are not desired.

That is probably why the question I used to ask consultants “Who is suitable to participate in a crisis team?” wasn’t the best question. A better question is “Who is not suitable to participate in a crisis team?”

So a personality scale should not be used to find an ideal personality for a particular position when dealing with a crisis.

It is however useful to use such scales to prevent certain people with certain personality traits from being given an (important) place in one of the crisis teams.

In other words: you do not want certain personality traits or only with very low scores.

Personality traits where I would like to see low scores are:

  • Unstable
  • Borderline
  • Insane
  • Suspicious
  • Inadmissible – Aloof
  • Solitary (Schizoid)
  • Negativistic (Passive – Aggressive)
  • (Dependent)
  • Impulsive (Comedian)
  • (Fantastic)
  • Aggressive

That may be different from one organization to another.

What you need to know is that no one is just a pure type, everyone has a number of different traits, which you can put on a scale from 0 to 40 according to the personality scales and gradations of the ‘Millon inventory of diagnostic criteria’. To do this exercise properly, it is best to invoke a specialist.

The benefits include preventing the collaboration from souring, people hurting each other, time being lost with pointless discussions after nonsensical proposals, collaboration becomes impossible or a crisis team member drops out prematurely.

Manu Steens

Manu works at the Flemish Government in risk management and Business Continuity Management. On this website, he shares his own opinions regarding these and related fields. Since 2012, he has been working at the Crisis Centre of the Flemish Government (CCVO), where he has progressed in BCM, risk management, and crisis management. Since August 2021, he has been a knowledge worker for the CCVO. As of January 2024, he works at the Department of Chancellery and Foreign Affairs of the Flemish Government. Here, he combines BCM, risk management, and crisis management to create a tailored form of resilience management to meet the needs of the Flemish Government.

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