Becoming aware of your personality patterns and finding ways to change the ones that get in the way of your business leadership puts you in a strong position for success. Pattern awareness is the next step up for emotionally and socially intelligent entrepreneurs who need to find the short cuts to resolving conflict and gaining fans and new customers.

Here is the bottom line: all relationships are based on the ebb and flow of interactions. It is that moment, the pivot point where we all need to figure out why someone can say hello and you want to stay and get to know them while others say hello and you want to run for the hills.

Leadership skills that include an understanding of why people behave the way they do, (and even more to the point, why you behave the way you do) and what the invisible forces are that make us react differently to different people is a major key in harnessing your ability to respond and get what you want in any relationship.

This list of the 13 most common patterns in the workplace is the product of decades of experience coaching executives and high potential leaders. As you consider the patterns think about the two or three that I call sticky. These are the ones that give you a gut reaction and the thought "Yup that sounds like me. I can see myself behaving that way, it feels right-on."

  • Super-achiever: must excel at everything and can never be satisfied with "great," it has to be "perfect."
  • Rebel: a born fighter who is always fighting against everything and thrive on negative attention.
  • Procrastinator: fails to follow through and then become indignant with excuses when held responsible.
  • Clown: extroverts who love to divert stressful situations with jokes and loud 'witty' banter.
  • Persecutor: bully who loves to control, micromanage or display contempt through verbal abuse and exploitation.
  • Victim: consummate whiners who are pessimistic and feel inadequate and fearful and draw back when challenged.
  • Rescuer: live to save victims by jumping in to solve all problems and keep the victim feeling helpless and indebted.
  • Drama Queen/King: floods emotions in work space and takes up all the air time with entertaining but disruptive excesses.
  • Martyr: does everyone's work for them whether they ask for help or not and suffers loudly in the process.
  • Pleaser: has hard time setting limits and always says "sure I'll do it" when they want to say "no way in hell!"
  • Avoider: aware of problems, sense the tension yet run as fast as they can in opposite direction.
  • Denier: pretend that conflicts and problems do not exist and must make sure that everything looks good to the world.
  • Splitter: master of covert power games who use emotional bribery, mixed messages and gossip to get you to trust them above everyone else.

The good news is once you can observe your specific patterns you can become a master of controlling your actions and reactions. The best leadership qualities come from being able to stop responding in a knee-jerk fashion and this list gives you a shortcut for seeing how your behavior and that of others interface.

For one week observe how these patterns play out at work. Check off how you and others fit into the 13 categories. This first step of observing the patterns is the beginning of long term positive change.

This is a great time of year to observe. These patterns tend to pop up again and again, especially during times of stress and end of year stress is always heightened. Make an early New Year resolution to accelerate your leadership qualities by tackling these often invisible personality patterns.