What is in this article?:
How a personality-type tool called the PACE Color Palette can help you better understand how your colleagues (and bosses) think and perceive the world. Four CME professionals explored the PACE system at a recent ACEHP Leadership Institute, and are finding it a great resource for building stronger CME teams at their offices.
“That’s just you being yellow.”
“I need your green side for a moment.”
If you had heard us talking like this during the 2012 Alliance for Continuing Education in the Healthcare Professions Leadership Institute, you might have thought we were a little odd. While that may be debatable, what’s not is how valuable we found the 20-year-old tool called the PACE Color Palette that we were introduced to. It is based on the principle that different people interact with the world in different ways: Some are impulsive and project great drive and enthusiasm, others crave order. Some want to make sure we can “all just get along,” and still others care about what it all means. Once you understand how you view the world and accept how others interact, you become more tolerant when people behave differently than you would. We found that knowing ourselves and knowing the people we work with helps us create more effective teams, which is one of the primary goals of leadership. And so we all opened ourselves up to a little introspection.
The result? We came to the Leadership Institute as strangers, but after an intense two days of working in groups organized by personality types sorted by easy-to-remember colors, we became colleagues who have a deeper understanding of how to incorporate our communication styles, joys, and stressors to create positive interactions. The PACE Palette resonated with us profoundly, galvanizing us into close-knit teams, creating a colorful camaraderie, and improving our interactions when we got back to our offices—it even is proving to be useful at home.
Primary Colors: The PACE Palette
While we all know not everyone thinks like we do, we still tend to dismiss it when someone behaves in ways we don’t like or don’t understand. At the Leadership Institute, we learned how much more productive we can be when we understand seemingly odd behavior instead of just dismissing it. People act the way that they do for reasons, motivations, and instincts that even they themselves may not be aware of.
The PACE Color Palette groups people into four primary categories, each associated with a color and a driving force:
Red - Adventure
Yellow - Responsibility
Blue - Harmony
Green - Curiosity
Each color has a talent, an area for which they have near-endless enthusiasm. While each color can channel the traits of the others, Greens will never be as harmonious as Blues, and Reds will never have the gift for structure that Yellows do. All of these traits are essential to highly functioning teams.
For example, imagine having a team made up of all Reds, the high-energy creative types with lots of ideas. They like to delegate, and they usually aren’t interested in the myriad details needed to take something from initial concept to execution. Without their Yellow, Green, and Blue counterparts, Reds likely would come up with many ideas that never come to fruition.
If employed consistently over time, the PACE system allows us to create more harmonious workplaces. Each of the four authors of this article represents one of the colors. Here’s a brief glimpse into how each of us interacts with the world. As you read, think about which color best fits your personality, as well as your colleagues’. (Hint: Many of the physicians you work with will be Green or Blue, while your director of accounting is probably a Yellow. Your director of sales is most likely Red.)