Squiggle, Circle, Triangle, Rectangle or Square?

13 Dec


What’s your shape?

What do your librarian, Justin Bieber, Steve Jobs, Marilyn Monroe and Lady Gaga have in common? Very little…

In my face to face candidate interviews, I often ask the shape question – and because it’s kind of funny, it has been a topic of conversation with friends as well. Draw the five shapes below, and ask the person… “Quickly (don’t let them think too long) – what is your favorite shape among the choices shown?” Do not let on that it’s a personality “label”… the Squares and Squiggles don’t like being labeled!

Square: Organized, work hard, and love structure and order in the universe. Squares bring order to everyone’s universe! They dislike situations where they don’t know what’s expected. Squares prefer working alone, are logical, sequential thinkers, and they often collect loads of data and file it so it’s easy to locate and they have trouble saying, “I’ve got enough information,” and making a decision. They strive to label everything as black or white. Your librarian is a square.

Rectangle: They are seekers and explorers who are always searching for ways in which to grow and change. Rectangles often ask themselves “Who am I? What is the world about?” They are the most receptive of the five shapes to new learning. Rectangles are the least attached to a specific ideology and often cause their co-workers confusion when changing from day-to-day. Most people go through rectangular periods when they’re in a state of change. My best guess is the teenage youth becoming adults are often running Rectangles – I’m going with Justin Bieber as a present day Rectangle.

Triangle: A leader, decisive and able to focus on the goal. They are self-confident and carry strong opinions. Triangles can be dogmatic and shoot from the hip. They like recognition and put stock in status symbols. American business has been run by triangles, and this shape is most characteristic of men. A huge positive is that they can communicate well with all the other personalities. Steve Jobs was a triangle.

Circle: They get their energy from other people and work well with others due to their ability to communicate and empathize. They read people and can immediately spot a phony. Circles like harmony and have more difficulty in dealing with conflict or making unpopular decisions. Circles can be swayed by other people’s feelings and opinions. They can be very effective managers in egalitarian business structures. Circles like to talk! Marilyn Monroe was a circle.

Squiggle: They are creative, a “what if” person who’s always thinking of new ways to do something. Squiggles are starters, but struggle with finishing because their mind never stops as they leap from A straight to Z. They do not like highly structured environments and can’t tolerate the mundane due to their shorter attention span. If Squiggles don’t get excitement at work, they’ll cause it elsewhere in life. Lady Gaga is undoubtedly, a Squiggle.

So what is the business point of this exercise? 

If you’ve read any of my earlier posts, you probably already realize that I’m a big fan of behavioral and personality assessments: Myers-Briggs, DiSC, Strengths Finder 2.0, and many more. What’s great about personality assessments is they “measure” people for lack of a better word, and generally, quickly describe us. Assessments are helpful in interviewing situations, but even more importantly, they are a tool for communication within your organization. If I’m a Circle and you’re a Square, we can hopefully poke fun at ourselves – and also objectively discuss the value and strengths we both bring to the company or team. We’re all great and all a little crazy. Laugh at your weaknesses and focus on your strengths!

Happy Holidays!




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