This is the second post in a four-part series about the Business Chemistry types. Read the post first in the series, about Pioneers, and watch out for the upcoming posts about Drivers and Integrators. Subscribe here so you don’t miss them!
If we had to pick one word to represent what the Guardian values, it would be STABILITY. A Guardian knows it’s essential to forge a solid foundation before building anything skyward. And when it comes to how the Guardian does things, many aspects of their working style serve to establish and maintain such stability. They’re methodical, careful, disciplined, meticulous, and exacting. (How else to ensure a foundation is sound?) Guardians believe it’s important to follow a structured process when completing a task, and they like a bit of structure in their work environments and meetings too.
Spontaneity? New environments? Ambiguity? A Guardian will likely say no thanks, because spontaneity, newness, and ambiguity all threaten stability. When they simply must embark on something new, Guardians seek to first understand as much as possible. They don’t jump in feet first, but conduct their due diligence and hatch a plan for moving forward. In fact, they say they actually enjoy planning. Guardians like to get cozy with the details, digging in to see what’s what. And they’re not going to trust anyone else to worry about those details for them—they’ll do the worrying themselves, thank you very much.
Planning a big brainstorming session? That’s not really the Guardian’s thing. In their opinion, learning from past approaches is better than trying something new. Why not take advantage of all that we already know and use tactics that have worked in the past? And don’t expect a Guardian to give you points for being original or imaginative while you brainstorm. They’re an unapologetically practical type. If it ain’t broke, why brainstorm creative ways to fix it? Guardians also tend to see things as absolutes—more black and white than gray. Sometimes that black and white approach means they get frustrated when others don’t do things the right way. And to a Guardian, right is synonymous with the way things have always been done.
Guardians are most comfortable when the waters are calm and no big waves are rocking their boat. And they themselves often serve as anchors. Depending on who you ask, they’re anchors that thwart progress, or anchors that prevent aimless drifting or even being lost at sea. Guardians don’t always see a big risk as the path to great things, but they also don’t reject risk entirely. They only want to thoroughly consider the possible implications before taking a risk. Likewise, they take their time when making decisions and they’re not sorry about it. To a Guardian, their decision-making pace is just right to ensure that they come to the correct decision. On occasions when they take a risk that doesn’t pay off or make a decision that backfires, they tend to beat themselves up about it. A Guardian will turn a mistake over and over in their mind to try and figure out what they missed or should have done differently; all the better to avoid making a similar mistake next time.
Guardians tend to be introverted and reserved, both socially and emotionally. You won’t usually find a Guardian at the center of a large group of colleagues and they don’t need to be in charge. Instead, they often contribute in other, less out-front and obvious ways. Of course they work on teams—who doesn’t these days?—but they’re also quite comfortable working alone. And Guardians tend to be particularly quiet around new people. (Who are those strangers?) In groups they may be uncomfortable expressing their emotions, or sometimes even their opinions. They’re unlikely to fight for the floor and they generally prefer to avoid any kind of confrontation. If you want to know what a Guardian thinks, you’ll often have to inquire.
When asked which type they’d least want to be, people tend to say Guardian. While this doesn’t seem like a great compliment, the same people characterize Guardians as the most underappreciated type. And they further suggest that this lack of appreciation is because the Guardian’s work, while critical, is often conducted behind the scenes. So it makes a lot of sense that people might not wish to be Guardians—who wants to be underappreciated? Consider thanking a Guardian today!
This is an excerpt from our book Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships (Wiley, 2018). Check it out to read what Kim Christfort and I write about the gifts of Guardians, and the gripes about them too!