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    Test lays out leaders' qualities

    Some of its findings they already knew - different people have different styles. Now the plan is to strengthen teamwork and communication.

    By CHRISTINA HEADRICK

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 22, 2001


    CLEARWATER -- The city's leaders gathered Monday morning for a "team building" workshop, and the seating assignment alone provided insight into city government.

    Mayor Brian Aungst and City Attorney Pam Akin sat together in a meeting room at the city's Sailing Center on Sand Key. They recently had taken a personality test, administered by Largo corporate trainer Judy Siracusa, and scored as having "dominance" as their overarching personality trait. Their strengths: decisive, efficient and practical.

    Across the meeting room, Commissioners Ed Hart and Bill Jonson and City Clerk Cyndie Goudeau were assigned to the table with the major trait of "conscientiousness." They agreed that they prided themselves on their need for information, attention to details and accuracy.

    Meanwhile, Commissioners Whitney Gray and Hoyt Hamilton and Assistant City Manager Garry Brumback and interim City Manager Bill Horne were assigned to sit together as "influencing" types. They described themselves as persuasive, enthusiastic and optimistic.

    While the other groups seemed more serious, the influencers told more jokes and chatted amongst themselves. (Gray summed up their table by quipping, "The conga line starts here.")

    When Siracusa reported that none of the city's top officials had scored with "steadiness" as their dominant trait, Brumback and Hamilton joked that they could envision the headlines in today's newspaper: "No steadiness on the commission."

    The personality breakdown was part of a DISC assessment, which all the officials took recently as a starting point for the workshop. The widely used assessment breaks down the four components of personality to help people know themselves better.

    The goal of Monday's workshop, Siracusa said, was to heighten awareness of their personality strengths and weaknesses, and spark a discussion within the sometimes cantankerous group about how they could improve communication and teamwork.

    Commissioners seemed to enjoy the experience.

    "It's a reminder that people are different, and they're coming from different directions," Jonson said. "Somebody may appear to be difficult, but they really may have a different style."

    Hart and Aungst, who have butted heads over numerous issues, both were skeptical about some components of the personality test. (One chart showed that their lead personality traits -- dominant versus conscientious -- put them on a collision course for not getting along.)

    But both men said they that they hope to move on from Monday's discussion with a more congenial atmosphere at City Hall.

    "If we carry this into some of the budget discussions and other things that are coming forward, I think it could be very helpful," Hart said.

    Siracusa reiterated several times Monday that different personality types can get along with each other if there is some mutual understanding.

    She went on to give the City Hall officials more detailed assessments of their personalities, based on their mixes of traits.

    Aungst, Hart and Akin were labeled as "creative" types in the DISC assessment, people who have the power to spark change in an organization but can come across as being too blunt, condescending or even "sulky" when not getting their way.

    Several officials were surprised that Akin fit that mold.

    "I'm a chameleon," Akin joked.

    Jonson was dubbed an "an objective thinker," who bases arguments on logic and data, but could potentially suffer from paralysis-from-analysis, according to profiles handed out to commissioners.

    Gray was labeled a "promoter," who influences other people with praise and can generate enthusiasm for projects. Meanwhile, Hamilton tested as a "persuader" who tries to influence others by being friendly, open and using "verbal adeptness."

    Both their profiles, however, warned against being too optimistic or enthusiastic about projects and people.

    Horne, the city manager, registered as a "practitioner" who has even levels of various personality traits. His profile said he is ambitious for his own personal growth and can develop proper procedures and actions to get things done.

    Aungst said he thought that Horne's mix of traits was probably good for someone running the city.

    "Sometimes in that position you need to be a get-it-done person," Aungst said. "Sometimes you've got to be a community consensus-builder. I think maybe you need somebody in the position who's a little less defined."

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