What does Behavioural Profiling tell us about Theresa May PM and her new Cabinet? By Mark Erskine, Director & Owner of Seller Performance
From observing Theresa May in recent weeks, we can expect to be highly methodical, analytical and structured with her answers when she is challenged in her first #PMQs today– always with an eye on ensuring mistakes are avoided. Her most preferred behavioural style is almost certainly Conserving. This I believe is a strong preference reflected in her somewhat austere image – dark solid colours is her dress style brightened by accessories (especially of late) and her now famous leopard-skin style high heels! But don’t read anything in to this that she is Adapting as she shows very little signs of extrovert behaviour and may lack flexibility when she has made her mind up.
Objectivity rather than emotion will be the order of this prime ministerial reign.
Adapting behaviour may be neglected – don’t expect to be inspired or see huge enthusiasm – more likely steely determination to get things done. She shows some signs of Controlling behaviour too – those behaviours at the bottom of our circumplex nearer to Conserving, wanting to be seen as competent and focused with an air of confidence.
However we should not expect to see her being quick to act as she will want to consider all the options, facts and evidence before making a decision. Her cabinet will need to prepare thoroughly before recommending a course of action and have done their homework. There will be no room for subjectivity to get their agenda passed into policy – it had better be based on sound logic and rationale.
Her direct reports have been quoted as saying she is a kind individual on a personal level and someone who places big emphasis on trust in people. She has certainly been a loyal and trusted member of David Cameron’s team for many years. He of course would have related to her conserving style, being quite similar.
This Supporting behaviour is almost certainly her back-up preferred style in good productive use – but again look more for the Supporting traits closer to Conserving on the circumplex. So we should expect her to be principled – when she says something – expect it to be delivered. “Brexit” supporters may take some solace then from her phrase that “Brexit means Brexit”! Her first speech in front of Downing Street certainly showed her Supporting touch focusing on helping the under-privileged in all walks of life.
In terms of her Cabinet appointments it was no surprise to see no sign of Michael Gove’s – his behaviour was totally unacceptable lacking loyalty and trust and knifing Boris expediently in the back would not have gone down well with her Supporting style. People comment upon his people skills which may have been a helpful addition to the team – but forgive me but do they not seem contrived to mask his high controlling behaviour? This relationship is a typical Supporting / Controlling clash of diametrically opposite behavioural styles.
Perhaps she chose Boris Johnson instead for his people skills. Embracing him was a surprise to many and some think a big risk in the Foreign Office. Maybe she is just keeping her enemies close? His mixture of Adapting and Controlling, where thought can be sacrificed for action and flexibility over-played, will need monitoring by the Conserving Theresa! Philip Hammond, David Davies and Amber Rudd are colleagues with similar behavioural styles to her own who she can trust to have the same values and beliefs on life – complementary orientations – her side of the Circumplex!
As for Andrea Leadsom, her potential rival before withdrawing, this was a politically motivated move, I am sure, without risking a too high profile role. However she will be someone that will supplement the gap in Theresa’s style, as she will undoubtedly bring some more overt people skills in to play as she shows strong signs of Adapting behaviour mixed with Controlling. Another one to keep on a short rein, I suspect!
Thersa will, given her profile and reputation be a tough negotiator and will need to be in facing the Controlling Angela Merkel. The Special relationship with the USA may be under severe threat too if Trump prevails (opposite styles of controlling and adapting) but less so if Clinton succeeds with May being a vocal supporter and driver for women in politics.
Watch this space for more profile insights on the more unfamiliar names in the Cabinet – need to do some more people watching!
About LIFO® – our preferred behavioural profiling tool at Seller Performance. Mark Erskine is also a Master trainer of LIFO®.