What's Your Work Style and Does it Fit? - Emerald Quest Coaching

1 September 2018
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As many business leaders know, there are numerous assessment tools available to help business owners, leaders and individuals learn about their strengths, weaknesses and motivators in a work setting. Emerald Quest coaches use a range of assessments, and the Friendly Style Profile for People at Work(TM) is very often used because of its simplicity of understanding and application. The tool identifies four common style types that show up in “calm” and “storm” conditions.

One of the most powerful things we can do in our work environment is to know when to say “no” for the simple reason that the requested task or assignment is more of a square peg/round hole situation–that is, setting a boundary based on our work style.

We may have a tendency to say “yes” to a task that makes us uncomfortable because we rationalize that we can use it as an opportunity to grow in an area of weakness. Or, perhaps we say “yes” to whatever is requested because we don’t believe there is another choice (see our Week 1 series on WORDS).

Of course, developing skills outside of one’s natural work style is completely doable and desirable. Still, there is a distinction between those assignments that we can accomplish with additional resource/support structures, and those tasks that have a strong possibility of failure because of a mis-match with our work style–in which case, we should consider taking a pass.

How do we know the difference? How can we set a boundary based on our style? If we know our work style, we can separate the work that is a stretch from assignments that are simply a mis-fit.

Our goal as coaches is to help our clients accept and seek assignments with full knowledge of how well they naturally fit within their work style. Knowing this helps them: 1) chart their own career path; 2) empower those who work for them; and 3) facilitate better managerial guidance and support. Authors of the Friendly Style Profile for People at WorkTM, Susan K. Gilmore and Patrick W. Fraleigh have found that:

“People who understand, accept, and effectively manage themselves are happier and more successful than people who do not.”

We invite you to continue reading about style and contact us if you’d like to learn more about your style and how it can be leveraged in your career.


Our working environment can create a multitude of conditions-times when things are rolling along with good rhythm, or when things are chaotic or stressed. Susan K. Gilmore and Patrick W. Fraleigh, developers of the Friendly Style Profile for People at Work(TM) define conditions as “calm” when a person’s world is characterized by the ebb and flow of ordinary stress and “storm” when the person’s world is characterized by troubled waters that signal distress.

It is important to be able to distinguish our own “calm” and “storm” conditions, because our work style (how we work-and whether or not a task is a square peg, round hole situation) very often shifts between calm and storm conditions. When our style does shift, our awareness of that shift “…provides  important insights concerning our self and others in both calm and storm conditions. With those insights guiding you, you are more able to understand, accept, and effectively manage yourself.” (Gilmore and Fraleigh)

Consider this example: an individual with an “achieving/directing” style in calm will focus on results, in the storm they become more “directing” and begin telling others what to do, aka “directing” others. This shift from calm to storm is still in the same “lane.”

However, if the person shifts styles between calm and storm, they may go from “achieving” to “preserving” which would cause their pace to go from fast and forceful to slow and steady. There is nothing wrong with this shift; however, when it does happen, knowing what comes with the shift can help you, your team or leaders better prepare for the desired outcome. Knowing this can also help you decide if the storm conditions create a square peg round hole situation. For example, if a building is on fire, the best person to be in charge is probably not going to be someone with a slow, steady pace! A more commonly experienced example might be when a client has decided they want a written document redrafted in a very short time frame. The person with a slow/steady approach might not be the best person to undertake the redraft, though they could be well-suited for the final draft review if quality or accuracy is a consideration.


Every style has working conditions or circumstances that can trigger us and take us from calm to storm. Examples include: not having sufficient support to make an assignment a success; being hurried; having to go it alone; or the disapproval of others. Each trigger has the potential to derail our efforts, or escalate the emotions that cause us to lose focus, effectiveness and efficiency. What to do? Identify your triggers and learn to interrupt and de-escalate the automatic response through awareness of our emotions and conscious action. (See Tips and Tricks below.)


Within the four styles there exists both compatible and contradictory elements. That is to say, that any two styles/people working together will experience those areas where there is compatibility as well as contradiction. Knowing in advance those contradictory elements allows us to focus on reconciling those areas and leveraging the compatible elements. Further, if an individual works from more than one style, that contradiction in styles can show up in their own inner/self-talk.

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