By Dave McKeown, President of Predictable Success
There’s a wealth of resources available on getting the most out of teamwork. Some are useful tools, but most of them miss a vital ingredient.
You can teach a team all the tricks and tips on working together effectively, but until they understand their natural leadership style and those of the team, you’ll be pushing a rock uphill.
Why Team Styles Matter
Each of us have a natural leadership style, Visionary, Operator, Processor and some of us have developed a fourth learned style, the Synergist. Each of these styles have their own characteristics, preferences and communication styles.
We’ve written extensively on getting the most out of these four styles so the aspect we’re focusing on today is using these styles effectively based on the objective of the team.
Some of these combinations work well together for specific purposes, while others can have the explosiveness of mixing hydrogen and water. Here’s how to make sure you’ve got the right styles mix for your needs.
Brainstorming – Visionary and Synergist
Both of these styles have a focus on the medium to long term and a preference to stay away from the details. This combination will get you the most creative (sometimes whacky) ideas. They’re comfortable with a blank sheet of paper and, unlike the Operator and Processor, will be less distracted by what’s happening “outside the room.”
Not all ideas will be implementable, and that’s where you switch up the mix.
Action Planning – Operator and Processor
The Operator’s and Processor’s focus on ‘what will work in the real world’ along with their preference toward the short term make this pair the best to stress-test and translate the ideas from a brainstorming session into an implementable action plan.
It’s best to keep the Visionary out of the discussions at this stage for fear of moving back toward the impractical but exciting.
Implementation – Visionary and Operator
Once the action plan is in place, bring back the Visionary and give the Processor a break. The V/O combo has a ‘get it done’ mentality which will maximize your chance of success. A strong action plan is needed to keep this combo on track, and expect that there will be a few shortcuts taken. But you can rest assured they will do all they can to make it happen. It just may not be pretty.
Maintenance and Autopsy – Processor and Synergist
Finally the Processor and Synergist are the best group to put together to help turn the action plan and implementation into a repeatable, scalable process. Let the Visionary and Operator get a head start on implementation and then bring this duo in behind the scenes to monitor progress, evaluate success and conduct the postmortem.
Two Combinations to avoid
There are two combinations to use sparingly (or not at all) due to their diametrically opposed worldviews: the Visionary & Processor and the Operator & Synergist.
Visionaries have a tendency to think Processors are too pessimistic, risk-averse and skeptical. Processors see Visionaries as too often hyperbolic and not grounded in reality.
Similarly Operators view Synergists as too ‘touchy-feely’ and not focused on getting things done. Synergists view Operators as ruthless mercenaries who will do anything to get ahead.
So – be warned – use these combinations sparingly.