Work Personality Series: The Dragon

The second in our Work Personality series, this piece covers the Dragon.

Dragons breathe fire, roar and are demanding and impatient.  But most of all, Dragons create wealth and drive business. In fairy tales, they are often pictured curled around a great heap of gold and jewels. In real life, those with the Dragon Work Personality drive the creation of wealth. The Dragon is likely to want to be at the forefront of a fast growing company or be in a group of people leading a management buyout or taking on an ailing company and turning it round.

Signs of a Dragon Work Personality

Dragons dislike routine and constantly seek new challenges. They are tough, task focused and driven to succeed, always seeking more resources; a bigger team; more autonomy; never satisfied with their own or others performance.  They continually question those in authority, challenge the rules and rarely seek advice from others. Steve Jobs, the consummate example of a Dragon once said: “It’s better to be a pirate than to join the Navy.”

Those with a Dragon Work Personality are monstrously intelligent. They show a fierce disdain for slow thinkers or people who cannot think through the logic of an issue. If they do not rate your ability, they will have little to do with you. The Dragons, like the Mad Hatter in Alice, do not suffer fools gladly:

“I don’t think…”

“then you shouldn’t talk,” said the Hatter. ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

If you ask for their views they will, without hesitation, assert them possibly in direct opposition to your own with little concern for what you think of them. They are radical and adventurous, not discouraged by set-backs or difficulties. They show a high need for achievement and are likely to be seen as dominating or overbearing with little regard for other people’s feelings or interests. They drive business by generating quantities of new ideas and change.

Impact of a Dragon

Working with a Dragon is not comfortable. Just when you think that everything has been decided and settled into a steady state, they come up with a new idea or a new demand. In a senior position, if others do not want to follow, they will just get on with what they think best. If the Dragon does not have the authority to get what they want, they will be stubborn and could be disruptive. If they continue to be thwarted, their behavior is likely to lead to dismissal or they may leave the company of their own volition.

Dragons enjoy taking risks and gain some of their motivation and enjoyment at work from doing things which more cautious people would avoid. They create uncertainty and enjoy dealing with the unexpected. For the Dragon, nothing is impossible:

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Through sheer intelligence, perseverance and energy the Dragon makes what seems impossible into a reality.

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The impact of a Dragon’s Work Personality may not be appreciated until he or she has left the organization. Suddenly the Tiger boss may find that the flow of ideas that had so irritated him has dried up; managers are looking inwards and starting to think about how to restructure their organization rather than outward to the market. The staggering energy shown by the Dragon, while annoying to cope with, also energizes others who now show little inclination to drive things forward.

Performance drops off, profits begin to fall, and the share prices are shaky. Eventually, the company begins to fail.

Dragons are difficult to work with, unpredictable, and cruel but they are essential to the healthy growth of a business. Don’t let them go!

“Never laugh at live dragons.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

Cosseting the Dragon

To get the best out of Dragons and allow them to drive business they need an environment where they are able to make their own decisions, where they are continually challenged, where people listen to new ideas and support change, where the Dragon can fully achieve what they know to be best for the company. They do not really want cossetting!

Watch out for frustrating the Dragon and driving them into the arms of a competitor!

Have you worked with a Dragon? Do you know where the Dragon are in your organization? The best way to spot a work personality before hiring is by taking an assessment. Dive into our on-demand assessments here.