CONNECTION—that’s what it’s all about for Integrators, and connector is the role they often play on a team. Sometimes an Integrator is focused on creating connections between people, and other times on connections between ideas. Either way, Integrators like working on teams more than toiling away in solitude. They’re trusting and they forge deep relationships—beyond networking or teamwork—getting up close and personal to form real friendships with colleagues.
And there are lots of reasons you’d want to be friends with an Integrator. For one thing, they go out of their way to be helpful. You know that one colleague who’s always happy to pitch in and does so with a smile? They’re probably an Integrator.
Integrators are great listeners and observers too. They pay close attention to what’s being said and can often sense even unspoken emotions and reactions. And then they take others’ feelings into account. An Integrator knows that sticks and stones aren’t the only things that can hurt relationships—words can too, and they bear this in mind when they consider how to deliver a message. Integrators place a high value on traditions, and this too reflects their sensitivity to the feelings of others. After all, where do traditions come from? People. And from the Integrator’s perspective, things that are important to people deserve respect.
Whenever possible, Integrators prefer to avoid confrontation, and their desire to keep the peace is aided by their tendency to see things more in shades of grey than in black and white. From the Integrator’s perspective both sides can be right, so why argue about it?
And yet, an Integrator will usually try to bring those with divergent views closer together. They consider it a worthy goal to reach consensus, getting everyone on the same page without leaving anyone out. An Integrator’s not going to leave you on the side of the road just because you don’t immediately agree on which freeway to take. They’ll work with you to understand what’s behind a disagreement and how it might be resolved. Sounds like a friend we’d like to have!
Integrators can also be defined by what they’re not. Don’t try to motivate them through competition or assume they want to be leading the charge—usually an Integrator isn’t gunning for first place or jockeying for the baton. Instead, they’re driven by a strong sense of duty and a desire to make a difference.
And numbers or technology? Not so much. Words, feelings, and relationships are the Integrator’s domain.
There are two subtypes of Integrators. We call them Teamers and Dreamers. TeamerS are more extroverted, and Dreamers more introverted.
Teamers are outgoing, perhaps best defined by their relationships with others. Those personal connections with colleagues are even more important to Teamers than they are to Dreamers. And Teamers place a higher value on traditions and on loyalty in these relationships too—if you’ve got their back, they’ll have yours. While Teamers go deep with their relationships, they also go broad, including a large swath of people in their extended network—all the better for getting lots of input and diverse perspectives.
Teamers are optimistic, energetic, and quite comfortable expressing their emotions. That makes them a lively presence. If there’s a Teamer in the room, you’ll probably know it.
Dreamer are typically defined more by what’s happening in their head and their heart, which makes them a bit more elusive than the Teamer. Dreamers are reserved, particularly around new people, listening and observing more than talking. During that quiet time, Dreamers are processing what’s happening in the moment and what it means, reviewing how things have happened in the past (particularly what’s gone wrong), considering what might happen in the future, and tracking how others in the room are feeling and reacting. This tendency is perhaps related to the higher levels of stress that Dreamers report—that’s a lot to think about! While they value relationships almost as much as their Teamer colleagues, Dreamers don’t spread the love around quite so broadly. Instead, a smaller group of close colleagues is their comfort zone.
Even more so than Teamers, Dreamers’ motivations come from within, rather than comparing themselves to or competing with others. They have a strong aversion to confrontation and aren’t fond of making decisions that might be unpopular. After all, doing so could lead to a conflict! Dreamers openly admit they aren’t always terribly disciplined or realistic about things. Instead they prefer to embrace their quiet creativity as they travel their own winding path.
Overall, Integrators are gestalt thinkers who excel at seeing how individual pieces fit into a larger context. They’re natural mediators who understand diverse perspectives, without needing to prove that one is better than another. They value a positive, inclusive, and respectful environment and strong relationships with others.
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 (social) intelligence of Integrators, and the issues with them too!