A leader’s job is to get everyone’s best contribution

A leader's job is to get everyone's best contribution

Leaders sometimes ask me whether Business Chemistry is really just about making everyone feel included. While that’s a worthy endeavor in my opinion, Business Chemistry offers so much more, like the potential to make a good leader great.

I think great leadership is about creating environments that both empower and compel people to make their very best contribution. But since not everyone is empowered or compelled by the same environment, the trick is to understand what different people need and to provide them with the right kind of space to excel. For those leaders who aren’t sure where to start, Business Chemistry can help!

Guardians need room to speak and to reflect. They tend to be reserved and quiet, particularly around people they don’t know well. And they sometimes speak slowly, so a Guardian’s perspective will often be drowned out by talkative colleagues, especially on conference calls. A leader looking for a Guardian’s best contribution should strategize around how to make sure everyone has an opportunity to speak without fighting for the floor, because Guardians are unlikely to do so.

Many Guardians also make decisions slowly, after careful consideration. So providing a Guardian with information in advance of a discussion gives them time to reflect and can increase the likelihood that they’ll be ready to contribute to a discussion and/or move forward with making a decision.

Pioneers need room to dream and to move. They can chafe under structure and often abhor details. Most Pioneers crave the chance to brainstorm, to be imaginative, and to explore. If you’re hoping to engage a Pioneer, make sure there are ample opportunities for big picture thinking before moving on to the minutia.

Pioneers can also be energetic and restless. To keep a pioneer engaged, a savvy leader will incorporate movement, scene changes and an element of surprise into their meetings and work environment

Drivers need room to act and to explore. They’re often competitive and accustomed to being in charge, and seldom hesitate to make tough decisions. In short, Drivers want to get things moving and a leader who wants to keep them motivated should be prepared to set a brisk pace and/or be selective about who needs to take part in which phases of a process.

Many Drivers are also technical, intensely curious, and experimental. They like to dive deep and develop an expertise around things that interest them. Their leader should make sure they have opportunities to explore and fine-tune their knowledge.

Integrators need room to connect and to consider. They’re relationship-oriented and expressive and they prioritize connection with colleagues. As a leader, make sure you aren’t skipping over the “niceties,” because for Integrators they’re actually necessities.

Integrators are also contextual, collaborative and consensus-oriented. In making decisions they’re likely to focus on the context and implications of the decision, as well as where their colleagues and stakeholders sit. To make an Integrator comfortable, give them the opportunity to gather and consider the information they require.

It’s a tall order to meet so many diverse needs, but it’s how great leaders set themselves apart. How do you meet the challenge?

Heightened Risk Requirements

Suzanne Vickberg, PhD (aka Dr. Suz)
Dr. Suz is the Deloitte Greenhouse Experience Group’s very own social-personality psychologist, which means she studies how people’s thoughts, behaviors and preferences are influenced by both who they are and the situations they’re in. She uses Business Chemistry to help teams explore how the mix of perspectives brought by their individual members influences their work together. Follow her on Twitter @DrSuzBizChem

This publication contains general information only, and none of the member firms of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, its member firms, or their related entities (collective, the “Deloitte Network”) is, by means of this publication, rendering professional advice or services. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional adviser. No entity in the Deloitte Network shall be responsible for any loss whatsoever sustained by any person who relies on this publication.
As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

14 thoughts on “A leader’s job is to get everyone’s best contribution

  1. As a Pioneer, I agree that details take me FOREVER to accomplish but big ideas and willingness to try anything is second nature. Knowing what the other personality types are and our differences of approaching issues at least gives me understanding to try and provide other groups what they need to engage. Sometimes I get lost in my own excitement, but when you have a team, who also understands this, they can send some cues to remind you, Heck, this has even worked with my mother! Now, I don’t want to jump through the phone and choke her because she wants every finite detail. I just pull out my Business Chemistry wallet card and employ some simple techniques. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Social intelligence is often a team leader’s greatest asset. Being aware of the various personality types and the possible interactions between them, allows a leader to maximally utilize each member of the team while enabling each member to also feel valued and understood. What a great way to increase both cohesion and productivity!

    I think Business Chemistry has found the right “formula” for success!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Better understanding how team members interact, communicate and are fulfilled truly elevates the collective team’s capabilities while serving as a great source of motivation. Business Chemistry really does help “achieve harmony in business!”

    Liked by 4 people

  4. One of the main aspects are team collating and empowering people. Give wings and they fly, mutual trust between leadership and team members. Something that really helped me with team dynamics and understanding people was a course I did. “Emotion Intelligence” the extended course.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree about the mix of people and their contribution to the team. However, the team do need a true leader to be successful. A guardian to my mind does not made a good leader, but a driver would add much to the team in the way of leadership. As we are aware the team would not function at it’s full potential without the right person to lead.


    1. Yes, leadership is key! But I’d counter that Guardians can make great leaders too. It’s true that Guardians tend to be reserved and often more introverted, but there’s research suggesting that introverts may get more out of teams than extroverts do, particularly when those teams are made up of proactive individuals. Check out Francesca Gino’s work (out of Harvard Business School).


      1. Hi Judy. Of course they can! I’m not at all suggesting that there are personality types that don’t make good leaders. What I AM suggesting is that a great leader–of any type–flexes their style as appropriate to make sure that they create a culture and an environment where all of their team members can thrive, not just those who are “like them.”


  6. Hi Suzanne, very insightful piece. Taking Francesca Gino’s report in the Harvard Business School into consideration, I think introverts can bring really positive results to their role in leadership. However, I do believe a balance of introverts and extroverts within the workplace is crucial.


    1. Richard, thank you for your comment! (and sorry for the delay–I was doing a digital detox to end 2015). I agree! A mix of perspectives, while it can make working together FEEL more challenging, is preferable. I’m an introvert myself, and I highly value partnering with my extrovert colleagues because they have many strengths that I don’t have!


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