Contractor Tip Of The Month: Harmonizing Different Personalities to Win the Game of Business

Words: Damian Lang

Damian Lang

I had quite an adventurous time playing Texas Hold ‘Em with some friends on a hunting trip. Just like in business, it takes strategy and patience to win the game.  The objective is not to win every hand, but to develop strategies to increase your long-term winnings. It is more than just luck. Texas Hold ’Em is a game about making better mathematical and psychological decisions. You have to know how much to bet, raise, call or fold.  I had brought the group together for the trip, hoping everyone would have a great time. As the night progressed, things did not work as I had planned. The game was controlled by a happy guy at the table who frustrated a couple of other players. He may have won, but the game ended on a low note.    The lucky winner was a sales guy who we will call Sam from Ohio. Sam was loud and cheerful. With a booming voice, he would stir things up by making comments like, “Let’s get this show on the road,” or “deal them cards,” and “I will call that obvious bluff because you don’t look like you know what you are doing.”   I thought he was hilarious and added a great deal of character to the mood of the room. But not everyone was amused. Next to Sam was a no-nonsense businessman who we will call Buzz. With his intuitive pessimistic attitude, one little thing could set him off and take him off his game. After Buzz folded his hand to Sam, Sam tossed his cards in the pile, not showing the hand he had.  This action is legal in Texas Hold ‘Em. Despite that, no-nonsense Buzz wanted to analyze his decision to fold. “You have to show me what you had,” Buzz complained. While laughing out loud, Sam said, “No I don’t. You just made a bad decision as you had me beat.” Buzz was not happy. He threw his few remaining chips in the pot and quit. After Buzz walked away, Sam tried to lighten the mood by asking, “Who pissed in his Cheerios?”  Next to me at the other end of the table was an engineer friend we will call Elliot. Each time the cards were dealt, Elliot would examine his cards (like an engineer would do) while slowly processing his odds of winning.  Often, before Elliot would announce his decision to bet or pass, Sam would try to move things on by saying jokes like, “You going to play that hand or just sit there and stare at those queens you got?” This wore on the engineer. At one point, Elliot whispered to me, “Sam is the most annoying MF I have ever seen.”    I became concerned about the tension between hunting buddies during what was supposed to a fun game. Buzz, who had left the game, is a big customer of mine. Elliot is a friend I hoped to do business with someday.   I think the world of Sam, so I lay in bed that night wondering why these two at the table did not like him. I love his enthusiasm, his excitement and upbeat personality. Then it dawned on me that there was not much I could do. They may never like Sam because his personality type is different from theirs.  When personalities clash, it is hard to build lasting relationships. While businessman Buzz wanted to have a serious game of cards, salesman Sam was annoying him with his processes and remarks. While engineer Elliot was processing data, salesman Sam was throwing his arms in the air, joking and pushing him to quickly make a decision.  I did not have time to repair these relationships during the hunting trip. Hopefully, they will all come back next year, be open to know one another better, and accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses.   The fallout from incompatible personalities happens every day in our offices and worksites. To build strong teams and companies, leaders must address actions and comments that split apart workers.  Companies are like car engines. To keep the engine running smoothly, there is gas to rev it to action, water to keep it cool, and oil to keep the parts from creating friction. Gas, water, and oil are quite different from one another. Yet when you combine them in a properly tuned engine, you can go far and quickly.  It takes all different personality types to keep your business running smoothly and successfully. But ignoring and not addressing personality clashes can lead to politics in the workplace.  As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. If a leader is considered to be part of one group that has a certain personality, instead of embracing the many different personalities required to run the business, there will be a communication breakdown. Can you imagine a football team having two or three separate huddles then going to the line and running a play? They would lose virtually every game.  The best leaders know how to harmonize all different personality types on their teams. I have learned by interacting with my three children that all have different personalities. I cannot love one more than the other and expect to keep a happy family. I must love them equally, with the result being a happy family.   I emphasize at our companies that we do not promote people based on who you know or who you are. We promote based on what you do. A successful leader keeps everyone working toward a common goal by recognizing and using the attributes of their teammates and adapting to all personality types. You can bet on it. Damian Lang is CEO at Lang Masonry Contractors, Wolf Creek Construction, Malta Dynamics, and EZG Manufacturing. To view the products and equipment his companies created to make jobsites more efficient, visit his websites at or To receive his free e-newsletters or to speak with Damian on his management systems or products, or call 740-749-3512.
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