How leaders achieve harmony in business

harmony in business

I recently saw a TED talk that fascinated me, Itay Talgam’s much-watched “Lead Like the Great Conductors”.1 During his talk, Talgam, a conductor and business consultant, expertly weaves the conductor-orchestra metaphor through a discussion of leadership as could be applied to any team. As a former orchestra flutist, what really struck me about this talk was that it’s a fantastic illustration of one of the main tenets of Business Chemistry, that each of us is a unique combination of all four types, and it’s our ability to flex between these styles that may be our greatest strength as leaders. Indeed, research shows that great leaders use a variety of styles, depending on the situation, to get results.2

Consider the responsibilities of a conductor: define the tone and set the tempo, unify 100 independent musicians while bringing out the best in each performer, provide real-time performance feedback, and create an experience for the audience. How do conductors achieve all this…without a saying a word? Talgam guides us through a tour of the leadership styles of some of the world’s greatest conductors, and explores the possible pitfalls of leaning too heavily on one style.

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Business Chemistry matters when change is afoot…

Chameloen.One of my favorite things about teaching Business Chemistry to teams is myth-busting. And one of the most common myths we need to bust is that Pioneers are “good” at change and no one else is. Now, it may be true that Pioneers are naturally more comfortable with change, or that they even relish it more than the other types. And it may also be that their adaptable natures make it a bit easier on them. But, thinking through the strengths and challenges of each type reveals that they all have something important to contribute in times of change, and also that they all may need a bit of help adjusting, in one way or another. So if you’ve got a big change coming, or you’re in the middle of one right now, keep the following in mind.
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When a Driver isn’t just a Driver—Scientists and Commanders


A while back I shared some hints for recognizing a Driver, as well as some suggestions for flexing your own style to theirs. As a quick reminder, generally speaking Drivers are logical, competitive, and tolerant of confrontation. They’re often skilled with numbers and technically-oriented.

You might also recall that I recently revealed there are actually two sub-types of Integrators—Teamers and Dreamers. Well, as it turns out there are also two sub-types of Drivers. We call them Scientists and Commanders. As with the Integrator subtypes, drilling down the level of these Driver sub-types provides us with even clearer guidance on how to flex our style to theirs or to create the kind of environment in which they’ll thrive.
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When You’ve Got Tough Feedback to Give, Flex Your Style


An old maxim cautions: “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing and be nothing.” We live in a world where feedback is unavoidable. And for most of us who deliver feedback to others, our default tendency is to give praise or constructive criticism in the way we like to hear it.

The trouble is, taking a universal approach to communicating with others works to our detriment. When we use a “standard template” for conveying praise or corrective advice, we’re practically inviting misunderstandings and broken trust. Just imagine the aftermath of giving hard-hitting feedback–with little context–to your most sensitive but reliable worker. More than just hurt feelings, we can actually distract a person from our main message with an ill-chosen delivery!

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Project stalled? Practice perspective-taking

How to Encourage Perspective-Taking Skills

Unclear objectives. Scope creep. Cost overruns. Many of the reasons that projects fail seem painfully obvious. And yet there’s a less noticeable offender that can lead teams to take rash shortcuts, ignore the facts, or worse, mistake their overconfidence for boldness.

I’m talking about our failure to actively seek out and consider perspectives different from our own.

You might have guessed that perspective-taking is something we promote enthusiastically in Business Chemistry. After all, minimal variation of thought can lead to groupthink…which can steer a team right into a place of dysfunctional conformity. And we’re not only talking about encouraging people to exchange perspectives; but about using targeted strategies to do so. Academic research supports this recommendation: perspective-taking has been shown to simultaneously improve creativity1 and reduce favoritism within a team2. And beyond fostering more cooperative workplace behaviors3, taking others’ perspectives into account has been linked to better team coordination4 and improved conflict management5.

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Flex Your Influence Style to Boost Your Impact

You and I don’t know each other. And yet, I’m pretty sure we have something important in common. And further, what you and I have in common we also share with leaders of all kinds, politicians, sales reps, and my 10-year-old son. What might that be, you ask? We all spend a lot of time and energy trying to influence others.

What we may not share are the strategies we most commonly use in our influence attempts. I tend toward supporting my point of view with evidence and data. My son, on the other hand, has perfected the strategy of wearing people down through relentless requests.

Depending on your Business Chemistry type, some influence strategies may be more natural for you and some more of a stretch. While there is power in focusing on your strengths, there is also evidence that when it comes to influence, using more strategies is better, so it probably pays to work on adding some of the stretch strategies to your arsenal.1

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Decisions, Decisions

Several weeks ago Dr. Suz wrote about the decision-making styles of the Business Chemistry types. Now, Kim Christfort, leader of Deloitte’s Leadership Center for Clients and the US Greenhouses, has been interviewed by Retail Leader Magazine about the same topic. In the article Decisions, Decisions Kim was asked “What are the traits and factors, both internal and external, that allow CEOs to make good decisions?

Kim explained that different approaches are appropriate in different situations and outlined how each of the four Business Chemistry types can bring value. “A company that needs to effect a massive transformation and follow a bold new vision might benefit from Pioneer characteristics, while a company that’s highly creative might need Guardian characteristics to help keep it on track…” She went on to say “A company that’s facing rapid growth and disruption, that needs to make tough decisions and execute quickly, might benefit from Driver characteristics, while a company that’s trying to appeal to new customer segments might need Integrator characteristics to help it relate.”

Read the entire Retail Leader article to learn more about the factors that enable CEOs to make good decisions.  You can also follow Kim on Twitter @Christfort.

Read the full article


Kim Christfort heads Deloitte’s Leadership Center for Clients Group (LCC), which helps executives tackle tough business challenges through immersive, facilitated Lab experiences and client experience IP such as Business Chemistry. As part of this role, Kim leads US Deloitte Greenhouses, permanent spaces designed to promote exploration and problem solving away from business as usual.

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.

The Power of Opposites

The Power of Opposites

If given the choice, would you work with someone who’s similar to you and shares your views? Or would you choose someone who’s quite dissimilar, and has a different perspective?

Research suggests that we make better decisions in diverse groups than in homogeneous ones, but that we feel less confident in those decisions1. Why? Maybe because making decisions with people similar to us feels easy; if we’re all on the same page from the start it must be the right page, mustn’t it? The overconfidence that we’re prone to individually, gets multiplied in homogeneous groups.

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Drivers: How to spot one and what to do about it

Drivers_HighResLearning about Business Chemistry is interesting (and fun!), but its real value lies in applying it to strengthen your relationships with others. This post is the first of four that address how to know each type when you see it, and what to do about it.


Spotting a Driver

Driver motto: And your point is…?

The most defining characteristic of the Driver is their technical and quantitative orientation. This may take the form of an expertise in math, engineering, mechanics, technology, or even music. If you have very little to go on, these are pretty good clues that someone is a Driver.

The Driver type is also strongly characterized by a direct style, a logical approach, a competitive streak, and a willingness to make tough decisions. Drivers are likely to take charge and enjoy experimentation, and often prioritize goals over relationships.

When it comes to decision-making, Drivers value a strong analysis backed up by logic and facts. They’re good at synthesizing and will look for patterns in complex data. They’ll willingly take a risk, but only after consideration. Once they’ve made their decision, they’re not likely to change their minds.

Tips for Working with a Driver

Drivers are attracted to both competence and confidence. Make sure you know what you’re talking about, and then don’t be afraid to strut your stuff a little bit. At the same time, don’t carry on too long–Drivers appreciate you getting to the point, and doing so quickly. If you want to keep a Driver’s attention, be careful to avoid excessive small talk, indirectness, and indecisiveness.

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