SUPPORTER PERSONALITY TYPE
Key personality traits of the SUPPORTER type
- Family Focus
- Team Focus
- Willingness to Follow
- Need to Meet Expectations
- Tolerance of Monotony
- Need for Stability
General characteristics of the SUPPORTER type
This is the most controversial character that is sometimes the hardest to identify, and which, in certain periods of history, has been misunderstood, looked down upon, or underappreciated. Supporters are the worst at articulating their interests, and so they have a tendency to wear a mask in order to avoid being oppressed. This is the root of Supporter type’s biggest issues: inferiority complex and a lack of self-esteem. Even though they have absolutely no reason for these!
It is safe to say that this type is not cut out to be a leader or company owner in a dynamic economy in the long run, as leaders have to be able to be confident in asserting their will and getting what they want, and Supporters, unfortunately, do not excel at these. So, we have to bring the attention to a fifth personality type – even though there are only 4 fundamental types – during the assessment and identification of personality types, which has developed from the Supporter type due to the fast-paced business environment characteristic to the last couple of decades. This is the ‘Supporter-turned-Ruler’.
Masks provide safety, and Supporters make use of masks the most. They can master the art of masks at such a high level that it might take years for an unsuspecting business partner or spouse to recognise their true nature. Their desire to meet outside requirements is so strong, especially if they have to act tough in their jobs all day long, that eventually they lose their own personalities. They might regard some personality traits as inherent to them, which they actually just copied from others and try to utilise now. Wearing a mask in the short run causes stress and discomfort in the Supporter’s life. But in the long run, it may lead to a higher-level distortion of their personality, making them lose their ability to self-evaluate. The 5th personality type mentioned above mostly develops in the case of Supporters in leadership positions, as they are the ones who have to constantly engage in this ‘role-playing’ in order to survive.
By the way, the social stereotypes surrounding this personality type are absolutely untrue. Looking at some large international corporations that grew out of family businesses, we will see that many of them have Supporter-type owners. We have to keep in mind that – although Supporters tend to respond slower to external influences and cannot impose their will on others as well as the other personality types – Supporters have something that nobody else does: they can keep people together! I guess I don’t need to explain why this ability is essential in the case of a company with a long-term vision.
Supporter types are fundamentally introverted because they respond to external influences slowly, after careful deliberation. As the name itself suggests, they reach their goals by helping others, through people, and with people. But do not mistake this for ‘humaneness’, as it depends on the individual character of Supporter to what degree they are actually ‘humane’. They are empathetic, very sensitive socially, and they can relate to others well. This helps them to stay well-informed, so they deliver the most important news with routine.
Their main motto: ‘don’t let anything change, everything is good as it is, as we got used to it!’ They follow this principle to the end. They see a terrible threat in innovation, in the unknown. They have difficulty adjusting to new things, be it a new environment, a new car, or anything else. But once they have made something their own, they want to hold onto it forever. Even when it becomes a burden, or it has lost its functionality, they will fix it so they do not have to throw it away. Daily routines make them feel safe. If something is working, then perfect, no need to look for new solutions! This is what makes them indispensable in the stabilisation of a company, but also what makes them the biggest enemy of development.
A harmonious private life is very important for the Supporter type. They cherish and appreciate a secure home. For a Supporter, work can never get in the way of family life, and family will always be more important than their career. Supporters will definitely ask for or even demand a day off at the time of school commencement ceremonies, or when their mother is sick, and if their employer doesn’t grant these, the battle might lead to a letter of resignation.
Supporters are slow. This is also true in the case of processing information, which means they tend to work slower than average, often driving their non-Supporter-type superiors and co-workers crazy. They are loyal. Short-term loyalty can be a feature of several personality types, but only a Supporter will stay with their employers to the end, ‘in times of plenty and in times of want’. This is why Supporters tend to have a long-term perspective in every area of their lives. They choose their partners for life, they don’t replace their cars every 5 years, and once they have found their place at a company, it is very difficult to make them leave.
Money matters the least to them. When a Supporter makes a purchase, high prices and exclusivity are not influencing factors. They only need money to ensure a comfortable, happy life with their families and loved ones. But keep in mind that no one is greedier or more motivated than Supporters working to ensure a good education for their children. Although Supporter types may not stand up for their own goals, they will gather and invest all their energy reserves into providing a better future for their loved ones. And employers often take advantage of this.
So, the Supporter personality type is a balanced character that is absolutely indispensable in the business world. This is why it is unfortunate when they try to go into directions that are unsuitable for them, and to do so, they try to develop certain traits. Wearing a mask always leads to drastic psychological consequences. They ruin their private lives, and without its security, sooner or later they will also be unable to perform adequately at work.
Supporters are ‘followers’ without a question. They care a lot about other people’s opinion on things. It is only natural that they follow the controlling Ruler type in their everyday lives. And it is not surprising that the mask they force themselves to wear tries to convey the features of a Ruler, as Supporters think that they are the example to be followed. Being a follower also encompasses a level of impressionability. Supporters are the easiest to influence or manipulate of all personality types. With a strong attitude, they can be moved into another direction, even if they do not agree with the new path after considering it carefully, as Supporters always do. They tend to follow Ruler types blindly, at least for a little while. Then they review and analyse the results. But, as this type is clearly governed by emotions, often even the hardest facts cannot convince them that it is time for a change.
Supporter types are inclined to be pessimistic. They have doubts about everything, especially if it has something new in store for them. Security is of the utmost importance to them, and if they feel that it is threatened, they become more and more aggressive. This reaction is often mistaken for the determination of a Ruler type in the business world. When negotiating with a ‘threatened’ Supporter, we may perceive some details in the communication that would point to a Ruler type. But with some experience, the difference between the two becomes obvious.
Identifying the SUPPORTER personality type
The SUPPORTER’s wardrobe
The Supporter type follows the principle of ‘blending in’. Their goal is to not stand out or be flashy, but to be normal and just like everyone else. This principle is present in their communication, their clothing, and in their choice of tools. It is worth paying special attention to Supporters wearing a Ruler mask. Their identification is not too difficult either, although they do everything they can to make it a bit harder for us. They are characterised by disharmony, as feeding their true nature and their masks at the same time is not an easy task.
Useful, lasting, and durable. These adjectives describe best the needs of a Supporter when it comes to shopping for clothes. The durability of the material and brand reliability are primary criteria. They will not buy a piece of clothing just because it looks good! That’s not enough for them. It also has to be functional. Many mistake people wearing clothes made by big brands for Ruler types. Supporters also buy clothes from big brands, but for an entirely different reason. They will choose Adidas because the brand has built up a reputation over the years of reliable quality and durability. And they will stick to this belief, even if it doesn’t have much to do with reality.
They gravitate towards items when shopping that would be highly questionable for any other personality type. I have the good fortune of having a Supporter in my family, and when it comes to shopping, their primary criterion is how many people have bought the same piece before them. If many have bought it, then it must be good quality, as people don’t just buy so much of something without a reason – so says the Supporter. They always check the seams and are sure to notice any minor flaws of the material.
Their business attire is chosen along the same principle of ‘nothing flashy’. The clothes of a Supporter will certainly not radiate a ‘sense of money’. The way they dress will certainly not startle us. It is all right. Maybe this is the best expression to describe it. In the business world, they often wear a Ruler mask. Of course, Supporters – especially those in leadership positions – will learn over time that the brand matters. I am often asked in my trainings: how can one tell apart a Ruler and a Supporter wearing a Ruler mask? The answer is simple. Rulers don’t just buy designer clothes, they also know how to wear them, while we couldn’t say the same about Supporters who have forced themselves to act like Rulers. If we see that someone is uncomfortable in an elegant designer suit, if the clothes don’t really match their personality, then we should suspect that they are not a real Ruler.
They believe in modest colours. They use the minimum number of accessories. Representatives of other personality types have an impression of Supporters as being ‘grey’. This is unacceptable for a Ruler or an Individual, and in many cases, they think of Supporters as ‘worthless’.
They are the primary buyers of mass-market products. To the question ‘What kind of clothes do you like to wear?’, they will answer with a surprised expression: ‘It goes without saying, something comfortable and convenient!’ – even though this does not go without saying at all. Although, 7 out of 10 people will give this very same answer, so we might as well regard it as natural.
For them, dressing flashy is not acceptable. They don’t like showing off, and although they do follow Rulers, they think of them as haughty and big-headed, so they do not really like them. For Supporters, paying extra for a brand logo is an absolute waste of money, and they usually don’t keep this a secret.
The SUPPORTER’s work environment
Supporters are certainly the weakest among all personality types in shaping their own work environments and asserting their wills. If they work at a well-regulated international company, they will definitely blend in, and treat company features as a given. They do not try to influence their superiors to make the environment suit them more.
But, beyond the given features, they will do everything to make their environment friendly and cosy. It is easy to recognise the office of a Supporter. Plants and family photos are essential decorations here. This inclination to change the environment is most noticeable for an outsider in the cold, impersonal interior of a multinational company; the ‘modifications’ of the Supporter are usually dissonant from the general surroundings. Thus, identifying Supporters is easiest through the examination of their environments. We have already touched upon the matter of family photos in the discussion on Rulers. Contrary to Rulers, Supporters place these photos in the office because it makes them feel good. It is not for the external world, but for them, as they get energy from the ‘presence’ of their loved ones.
The atmosphere of a Supporter’s office is also a giveaway. As soon as we step in, we feel a certain calmness, as if time has stopped. Being in an office owned by a Supporter wearing a Ruler’s mask is a very interesting experience. They can’t change the atmosphere, but there are a few ‘out of place’ diagrams or objects of triumph.
The Supporter type does not make a big fuss about seating; they like to be in direct contact with their negotiating partner. But Supporters in a Ruler’s mask will follow protocols meticulously if they are the boss. They will definitely have a bigger chair than their negotiating partner, and they usually conduct the negotiation sitting behind their big desk, to make sure they don’t get found out.
They like to mingle in the office, as they don’t care much about visible differentiations of status. If an office environment is shaped by a Supporter-type owner, it will be designed in a way that facilitates communication among the employees. The doors are left open, so everybody can see each other. The managerial offices are not designed to represent the status of the owner. If we enter a room and feel unsure about which one is the boss’s office, then most probably we are about to meet a Supporter-type leader.
Ensuring the well-being of the employees is a top priority for them. Free coffee or soft drinks, a dining room, or a lounge are all signs of a Supporter-type leader. Good relationship among co-workers is a primary goal here.
They don’t like to waste money, and they can be stingy when it comes to furnishing the office space. If it’s functional, it will do! They don’t care what impression it makes on others, whether it builds or ruins the company’s image. For other personality types – especially Rulers and Individuals – these offices are featureless and plain, and they wouldn’t go near them unless they have to. This can be a serious problem in recruitment for example, especially if the Supporter-type company is looking to hire new employees for an expansion to a new sector. Expanding to a new sector would require Ruler-type employees, but the potential Ruler-types will move on as soon as they ‘get a taste’ of the Supporter-type work environment. For the Ruler, the ‘I don’t spend on appearances’ approach is a clear indication that the given company is in trouble. And they will never put their own status at such a risk, even though most of the time they couldn’t be more wrong with this thinking.
The SUPPORTER’s tools
For salespeople, Supporters are dream consumers and nightmare consumers at the same time. On the one hand, they are not a great consumer group, as they tend to get attached to the things they already own and have difficulty replacing them. And so normally they are not the ones that make the world of commerce revolve. On the other hand, by applying the right technique – although it somewhat contradicts the previous statement – they can be the easiest to convince to buy something that they might never even need. They are quite impressionable as customers, and salespeople, the skilled ones at least, can make good use of this trait.
When it comes to cars, the primary criteria are safety and blending in. Safety might be real or supposed, what matters is that the Supporter believes it is real. It was rather interesting to follow the campaign of Toyota as it slowly took the place of German cars, which dominated the ‘safest cars’ market for decades. For Supporters – as they can’t really analyse information objectively, and they don’t really like connecting things with facts – the ‘reputation’ of a car is what matters the most. If German cars are generally considered the safest, then they will buy German cars. If the Japanese cars are the safest, then Supporters will buy those. Of course, brand loyalty is a characteristic of Supporters, as any kind of change or sampling of a new brand is out of the question for them, especially when it comes to such a risky business as cars. Real Supporters, as soon as they find a truly safe car that works for them, will be unwilling to replace it with a different brand (or even model).
Another key criterion besides safety is blending in. Neither the colour nor the interior of the car should be unique in any way. It should be tidy, useful, and it must not break down. The exterior should be practical, easy to clean, and durable. So, the car of a Supporter is always a good, reliable mass-market car. The behaviour of Supporters wearing Ruler masks is quite interesting when it comes to choosing a car. The purchase of a masked Supporter is a little bit ‘strange’. They are still looking for safety, but at the same time – just like a Ruler – they want to project a certain grandeur and status. But while a Ruler spares no money or energy to get this, their masked counterparts are stingier than this. They prefer jeeps and big cars. Of course, they always have an explanation to why they need a jeep for urban traffic: they have a big family, just in case they have to drive on a dirt road, etc.
Supporters are also modest when it comes to mobile phones. First of all, they are much less technically inclined than the other personality types. Secondly, just as in the case of cars, functionality is the most important for them. And the basic functions of a mobile phone are making calls and sending text messages. They were reliable Nokia consumers for decades, as the mechanical structure of Nokia phones was simple, it was easy to learn how to use them, and the reliability of the device was also appealing. Another important factor was that Nokia didn’t engage in ‘dazzling’ the customers for years, it put the emphasis on functionality instead of fancy looks. It seems that this business policy wasn’t successful, as today this brand also seems to have gone in a different direction. Supporters put far less emphasis on their mobile devices than any other personality type. They don’t want to show it off. And they will probably be the first to take a policy seriously and actually turn their phones off at meetings to avoid disruption in any way.
The aforementioned purchasing behaviour is also true in the case of any other tool. They will not show off their Apple laptop, and they will be the last to buy a tablet, as they find the way it looks and works a bit repulsive. Their tools are definitely functional. Their chairs are comfortable, and it is easy to tell the function of every tool or device they have by simply looking at them. They like cosy, homely colours, and anything else that reminds them of the warmth of home.
The SUPPORTER’s free time
If possible, Supporters surround themselves with their loved ones in their free time. And in most cases, they will find a way to make it possible. The activity itself is not as important as being with their families. This is relaxing for them in itself.
They are not in fond of active leisure. They do sports for well-thought-out reasons or to spend time with their friends. They are the ones who will play football, tennis, or anything for the pure joy of playing sports or being together. In sports, results and performance are not defining factors for them, they are the exact opposite of Rulers in this regard.
Supporters are not communicative. They should not be expected to join big family discussions or conversations with friends. But they are excellent listeners, and their friends can always rely on them when they need support. The significance of big holidays is best seen in the case of Supporters, as these are excellent occasions for them to gather all their loved ones. Family is always a first priority in their lives, so their kids’ graduations, taking their mothers to see the doctor, and supporting their spouses fills their lives. But Supporters also need an area ‘for themselves’, to have some quiet time alone. Due to the tendency of others to take advantage of their helpfulness, it is often a huge problem in their relationships when their need for rest is not taken into consideration. This will definitely take its toll, although only in the very long run
The SUPPORTER’s communication
Supporters do not communicate much in the business world. The opinion of a Supporter needs to be pulled out of them. They don’t push themselves to the front, they need to gather adequate information and digest it to form an opinion. For them, a hasty statement is full of dangers, and danger is the last thing they want.
If Supporter types get the opportunity to speak, their communication becomes cumbersome, as they have trouble finding the bigger purposes and baselines. This is mostly due to having difficulty in figuring out priorities. For a real Supporter-type leader, hiring a new sales director and the issue of the toilet paper running out all the time are problems of equal importance.
They are not interactive types, so they would rather not take on personal meetings and presentations to avoid having to give a quick answer to an unexpected question. They prefer to communicate with their new business relations via e-mail or phone. When an employee taking part in the training talks about how a new business contact requested e-mail communication and would not meet them in person, most probably they are dealing with a Supporter type. They need the draft material to prepare for the meeting. Preparations and making a note of the key points are crucial in their case, as the first communication might be too fast-paced for them, and they might lose track.
Their verbal communication is characterised by softness. They can’t and don’t want to drown out others. They don’t really see the point of it. Their tone is usually friendly and reassuring. Except when they get into an uncomfortable or unexpected situation. Then their communication becomes confused, extraneous, and hard to understand.
They read written instructions to the last letter. This also makes them get lost in the details easily. It is important to avoid giving a Supporter too much information at one time, and if we want to make sure that certain points get through to them, these need to be highlighted with appropriate techniques, as they have a harder time than others in filtering out the main message of a text.
We have to pay special attention to masked Supporters regarding their communication as well. They might actually be the most unpleasant figures in the business world. Their way of thinking and style is fundamentally the same as an average Supporter’s. But, unfortunately, they put the most energy into deceiving their business partners in their communication: they try to force themselves to imitate a Ruler’s way of talking. Of course, this is not enough to acquire the Rulers’ eye for the essential issues and their confidence that makes them able to promptly respond to any kind of interactivity. The mask usually cannot achieve more than loud, often offensive communication. In many personal negotiations the clients are identified as Ruler type due to their tough, confident, hurtful communication style, then, to the partner’s surprise, the offer prepared in consideration of a Ruler type’s characteristics is not accepted. Rulers are tough, while a Supporter wearing a mask is merely acting tough, they don’t actually know how to be tough, and their only goal is to prove their dominance. Of course, this will not make them dominant, but they might lose the deal.
The SUPPORTER’s decision-making process
Getting a decision out of a Supporter is like pulling teeth! Making decisions always stresses them out, as it requires a definite yes or no answer for a given issue.
Supporter types will postpone making decisions for an eternity, or even avoid making them at all, unless someone forces them to finally reach a decision with the right technique. Supporters – and many would have me sentenced to stoning for this statement – mostly finalise their position out of fear. A Supporter will not decide to buy a product just because the seller presents a good argument, even if the product would actually be indispensable for them. The Supporter type does not care about this. But it will surely have an effect on them if we bring their attention to the problems that might arise from not using the given product. For instance, we might run into Supporter-type marketers in the media, who just couldn’t care less about the new business contact. In cases like this, the most effective technique is to bring into the attention of the decision analyst or decision-making advisor that if they make the ‘smart’ decision of not taking the risk of going into a new direction, which is actually only based on their own fear of novelty, it might lead to certain problems at the company that the boss will not be too happy about, and they will be accountable for all of this. This usually makes our offer land on the managing director’s desk in no time.
References make a huge impression on a Supporter-type decision-maker. Remember, the fact that the product is bought or a service is used by a lot of people is a clear indicator for the Supporter that the product or service is good. So, if you have a meeting with a Supporter-type client, never forget to take some documentation with you supporting this fact. Selling a brand-new product to a Supporter is close to impossible. Many make the mistake of naïvely approaching them, but Supporters will easily block these feeble attempts.
Personal relationships are very important to them, and this permeates the way they do business as well. Supporters are the kind of clients who, after a while, will sign the contract for the contact person and not the company. With them, it is absolutely useless to attack their existing business relationships. In order to change, they would need to be disappointed in their business partner as a person. Many times, they stay loyal to an old business partner that they have worked with for decades even at the expense of their own company.
Self-advocacy is not the strong suit of Supporters, and they are well aware of this. For this reason, they pay special attention to not letting their negotiating partners take advantage of them. Concessionality levels are of special importance to them. They will only buy the products at a ‘low’ price. Supporter types are generally aware of the discount rates available in a given area in a given market. It is also a fact that they are unable to win the best position with their suppliers – that would be the privilege of the Ruler type. They assume in advance that the dominant negotiating partner wants to deceive them, and so they end up demanding absolutely unrealistic discount rates or final prices. And a less experienced seller will engage in this price war. But this is a big mistake, as all that matters to this type is leaving the negotiation with their head held up high, able to say that they could advocate for themselves. And if the seller communicates skilfully that the company only gives ‘X%’ discount for the given quantity, but they will get ‘(X+10)%’, then the Supporter will be happy to take the deal.
In their decision-making process they also take into consideration if the given product or service is not just plain business, but there is ‘something more’ to it. They like to engage in charitable activities, and not just for the reputation and publicity it brings, but out of true, altruistic intentions. It happens all the time that skilful salespeople ask Supporters to buy their products on the basis of ‘helping them get by’. And however strange it might sound, in most cases it actually works with Supporter-type decision-makers.
It is important to note here that, as Supporters are fundamentally indecisive and, on top of that, are followers by nature who are easily deceived by cunning people, it is critical for them to have a ‘partner’ of the opposite personality type if they are in a leadership position, especially in the case of top leadership positions.