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How The “Weight Lifter” Personality Type Deals With Career Change

career change behaviorToday we feature our final of the 5 kinds of Career Change Behaviors –  “The Weight Lifter.”

You can read more about each career change behavior type in my book, RINGMASTER.


One of the most classic characters in a circus is the Weight Lifter, amazing audiences by lifting heavier amounts than most can even imagine. Barbells that look as if they weigh more than a car are hoisted overhead to the applause of people who didn’t believe lifting them was possible.

The Weight Lifter Personality:

The Weight Lifter’s joy comes from astounding audiences with feats he’s done thousands of times. When it comes to the workplace, Weight Lifters have often been in the organization, or at least in the industry, for a long time. They have likely carved out unique niches in the company by being the only one who can perform a particular kind of task, or who has a unique expertise in a certain area. For this reason, they usually feel pretty safe in their roles and believe they are hard to replace. Managers tend to heap great praise on their Weight Lifter team members, considering them the backbone of the team.

How Weight Lifters Deal With Change:

Weight Lifters are the most likely to be strongly attached to the way things have been done before. After all, they’ve thrived doing it “the old way.” Thus, they resist most types of change. However, they do respond better to change if they are first given a chance to voice their concerns. They must be heard if they are to ever move on!

Let’s take a step back. At the first sight of change, Weight Lifters may not care to be included, and may actually rather be left alone. They see current methods and roles as their safety blanket, wondering why anyone would change things – even if the proposed changes might improve things. Some Weight Lifters use phrases like, “I’m too old to change.” They love the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Managers are advised to listen to the Weight Lifter though. They have the history and knowledge to help improve a plan for change, and if you can get them on your side they will be a major force for change. If you include them in the decision-making process, they are likely to quickly get on board.

When Confronted With Unexpected Change, Weight Lifters Are Likely To:

THINK: “Oh no. This is not necessary. Things are fine the way they are.”

SAY: “This is a mistake.” However, they may not say it out loud unless they know others think the same way.

DO: Bare minimum asked. Mostly they’ll try to lay low and avoid attention. They may be building their case for fighting the changes.

The speed with which they process most changes: Almost zero.

When faced with RISK, they will: Exhibit one of two very different reactions:

  1. Go through the motions and play along, but show discontent through body language and tone of voice.
  2. Recruit others around the idea that the new change is bad, building power in numbers.

How Managers Can Utilize And Encourage Weight Lifters:

Ask them questions and get them talking about their fears around the change. Helping them voice their concerns will begin the process of helping them accept the change. This is where the TQM (Total Quality Management) concept comes into play. A common approach in the business world, TQM is founded upon the idea that the quality of products and processes is the responsibility of every person within an organization who is involved with either the development and/or distribution of a product or service. TQM was developed several decades ago to help multiple employee “types” become more integrated, and it definitely helps Weight Lifters get on board. This practice allows and empowers workers to figure out how to implement change and new processes. Today we have advanced the TQM concept into what is known as Six Sigma, a more complex combination of quality management methods. But regardless of whether it’s TQM or Six Sigma, the idea, in short, is to get Weight Lifters involved in the process as soon as possible!