The Synergist

Why do so many teams and groups fail to perform—achieving compromise at best and gridlock at worst?The Visionary with big ideas and little interest in execution. The Processor who insists on putting every detail through a system, slowing things down. The Operator who just wants to end the meeting and get back to the “real work.” These three characters—’Visionary’, ‘Processor’, and ‘Operator’ (VOP)—sit at every business meeting, each battling for their competing agendas and together blocking the way to real progress. The cost to organizations in lost productivity is exorbitant.What does it take to end this gridlock? In THE SYNERGIST: Leading Your Team to Predictable Success (Palgrave McMillan; hardcover; January 2012), best-selling author Les McKeown argues that every successful team includes a critical fourth player—the Synergist—who can take all three: the bold dreamers, the pragmatic realists, and the systems designers; and knit them together into a dynamic, well-rounded team. Most importantly, according to McKeown, author of Wall Street Journal best-seller Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track—and Keeping It There, the Synergist is a role anyone can learn.

While most attempts at teamwork improvement deal only with the symptoms of group dysfunction such as distrust, poor communication, and fear of change, in THE SYNERGIST, McKeown addresses the root cause: the innately unstable Visionary-Operator-Processor triangle. Because each of the three styles’ motivations, views, and goals are incompatible, without a Synergist every team will eventually implode, gridlock, or underperform. Only the Synergist can put aside their own agenda and interpret the language of different personalities, capture the best from each person, and put the good of the enterprise ahead of their own ego. McKeown—who has used techniques presented in THE SYNERGIST in his consulting with Harvard University, T-Mobile, American Express Financial Services, The US Army, Chiron Corporation, Pella Corporation, Microsoft, United Technologies Corporation, and more—shows how any individual can fill this critical role, whether or not they’re the formal leader of the group. With thought-provoking self-assessments and an extensive ‘Synergist Toolkit’, he teaches how anyone can learn to be an effective Synergist by recognizing the vital signs of ineffective teamwork and making the right interventions at those pivotal moments.
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  • Les McKeown’s excellent first book, Predictable Success, helped many companies – including The Motley Fool – stay on the right track.

    Now The Synergist unlocks the secrets to becoming an effective team leader, which everyone can use to achieve personal and professional growth.

    – David Gardner, Co-founder and Chief Rule Breaker, The Motley Fool

  • Some business page take a few chapters to get into, while others never quite deliver. Not so with The Synergist. Les McKeown’s astute observations leap off the page from the get-go.

    Throughout the book I laughed, I nodded, I cringed—and I couldn’t wait to turn to the next page. I’ve seen the personality types Les chronicles do unintentional damage within myriad companies, all too often with no one even understanding what’s going on.

    This book presents a necessary exposition of what happens in the real world of business, and I’m going to use its ideas to make my company perform at a much higher level.

    – Steve McKee, President at McKee Wallwork Cleveland and author of When Growth Stalls

  • FINALLY! We all know that most teams and groups are excruciatingly ineffective at best, mainly because no one knows what to do to make group dynamics actually work. With The Synergist in hand, gone are the days of teams and groups plagued by frustration, mistrust and uncertainty.

    Les McKeown lays out one very simple and incredibly powerful way to take the reins of any group and lead them out of the typical group quagmire and into unprecedented success. A must read for anyone who leads a group of any kind!

    – Sarah Robinson is the Leader of The Hooligan Tribe at

  • We all know an ineffective team when we see one but it’s often hard to figure out why the team is ineffective.

    The Synergist shows us that it’s the particular way the people in the groups work – and then shows us the one role within a team that brings it all together.

    If you’re serious about harnessing the power of your team, this is a must read.

    – Charlie Gilkey, Founder and CEO, Productive Flourishing

  • The challenge for members of groups of people, such as in a work department, is to create alignment and to function as a team instead of going in separate directions.

    Les McKeown offers a practical explanation of the reasons for the failure of teams, even well-intentioned ones, and what they can do to elevate their game. He offers a practical model to engage the strengths of each team member in activities that enable them to work together more effectively and efficiently.

    Whether newly-formed or unhappily struggling, “The Synergist” is a blueprint for personal and team success.

    – Andrew Marshall, Founder and Principal, Primed Associates LLC

  • This book is a must-read for anyone on a team, leading a team or aspiring to do so. In his usual witty and refreshingly candid style, Les provides laser-focused clarity around why teams fail and offers simple yet powerful tools that will turn any group of individuals into high-performing teams.

    Reading this book will give you the skills to engage in rich dialogue, build meaningful relationships, and contribute to a specific goal all while playing to your strengths. The days of hiding out in your office are over!

    – Halley Bock, President | CEO fierce, inc. (‘Fierce Conversations’ etc)

  • Les has done it again; a brilliantly written, insightful guide to both identifying your leadership style and learning how to keep team members working towards a common goal.

    Whether you have a one person or a 1,000 person organization, you will want every employee to read this book and learn how to become a Synergist.

    – Carol Roth, Business Strategist & NY Times Bestselling Author of The Entrepreneur Equation

  • If you want to get unstuck and do big things, buy THE SYNERGIST today. It’s the best book I’ve read on high-quality team-based decision-making; the key to accelerated growth and overall success.

    Or, you can continue the infighting, backstabbing and backsliding. Your choice. I know you’ll make the right one.

    – Michael Port, NY Times Bestselling Author of Book Yourself Solid

  • Finally – a book that can serve as a blueprint for anyone trying to get the most from everyone in their organization.

    Les McKeown’s fresh perspective on the persistent problem of bringing together people with different work styles is a must-read for anyone who works with groups or teams.

    – JJ Ramberg, Host of MSNBC’s ‘Your Business’ and CEO of

  • In his previously brilliant book, the author showed us how and why companies grow, succeed and – if not careful – fail.

    In his current brilliant book, he shifts to a more micro level and shows us how to take the natural conflicts of personal styles and bring them together in ways that make a team or company much more effective than it might ever have hoped to be.

    Have I already mentioned ‘brilliant’?

    – Bob Burg, coauthor of, The Go-Giver and It’s Not About You

  • Simple, intuitive and transformative. The Synergist lays out not only a road map to building highly-successful teams, but a process that empowers organizations, fuels progress and dissolves gridlock.

    – Jonathan Fields, author of Uncertainty

  • The Synergist speaks directly to the single greatest challenge leadership teams face today: a lack of relationship and communication.

    While great leaders are not well-rounded, the best leadership teams are. If you want to know what your leadership team needs to succeed, study this book carefully.

    – Tom Rath, Author of ‘Strengthsfinder 2.0’, ‘How Full is Your Bucket’

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