Taming the Beast Within

By Deb Sadler

If you have gone through a VIP Leadership session, you are familiar with the animal personality assessment that we use that was developed by Dr. Gary Smalley.  Since not everyone is a personality test geek like I am, I’ll do a quick recap: Lions are decisive, communicate in a direct manner, and can come across as overbearing; Otters love to be around people, love to talk, and can become easily discouraged by details; Beavers love details, are very precise and conscientious, and may be negative of new ideas; and Golden Retrievers are loyal, warm and relational, and can be overwhelmed by too many events or negative emotions of others.

I am often asked for suggestions on how to improve negative aspects of the different personalities. Keep in mind, nobody has all of the negative (or even positive) traits of their personality.  Here are some very brief suggestions, which may or may not apply to you. It is important to note that these are self-help suggestions – not suggestions for trying to improve others!


  • If you cut people off mid-sentence, don’t.
  • You’re not always right – seriously; listen to and consider another perspective.
  • If you delegate, empower them – don’t micromanage.
  • If you’ve read this far, good job!

Otters:   It’s so hard not to interject your wonderful ideas and thoughts at all times, but be aware that you may be dominating meetings or conversations. Choose to limit what you say and give other people a chance to talk, even if it’s not nearly as entertaining as what you would contribute. Be mindful of giving your employer your focused time and energy while at work. They’re lucky to have you around, so always leave your audience wanting more – by saying less.

Beavers:   Just because someone doesn’t plan or execute a task the same way you would, doesn’t mean that it’s not a reasonable approach. Listen to an alternate idea or plan with an open mind, rather than assuming it’s not going to work. Have a little patience with others, because, let’s face it, nobody is as good at details and minutiae as you but that’s not their fault – it’s just your superpower. And if you find any spelling or grammatical errors in this blog, keep it to yourself.

Golden Retrievers:  Realize that you bring a little stability to our animal kingdom, and we need you. We need you to take care of yourself. That means learning to say “no” occasionally and protecting your time and energy so you don’t get burned out and overwhelmed. Believe that you are not responsible for the lives and happiness of everyone around you, so give yourself the same grace and understanding you would extend to anybody else.

As I said, these issues may not fit your particular situation. If you have questions about moderating some of your personality concerns or suggestions for dealing and communicating with other personality types, contact me, and I will be happy to discuss whatever problems may be disturbing your peaceable kingdom.

Deb Sadler leads the “Peaceable Kingdom: Understanding Different Personalities ” module of the VIP2 Leadership training. She is a former Intelligence Officer of the CIA and Social Studies teacher. In addition to her work at VIP2, she also serves as a Standardized Patient actor who aids in educating medical students at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. You can reach Deb at deb@myvip2.com.