In this article, we’ll lay out the value that each workstyle offers, address the challenges of bringing people with different styles together, and describe how to capitalize on the cognitive diversity in your organization. For a GC, juggling with diverse personalities comes with the job. But how you interact with a variety of individuals, often means the difference between getting nowhere and getting the outcome you want.

Understanding the Styles
Each of us is a composite of the four work styles, though most people’s behavior and thinking are closely aligned with one or two. All the styles bring useful perspectives and distinctive approaches to generating ideas, making decisions, and solving problems.

Generally speaking:

  • Pioneers value possibilities, and they spark energy and imagination on their teams. They believe risks are worth taking and that it’s fine to go with your gut. Their focus is big-picture. They’re drawn to bold new ideas and creative approaches.
  • Guardians value stability, and they bring order and rigor. They’re pragmatic, and they hesitate to embrace risk. Data and facts are baseline requirements for them, and details matter. Guardians think it makes sense to learn from the past.
  • Drivers value challenge and generate momentum. Getting results and winning count most. Drivers tend to view issues as black-and-white and tackle problems head-on, armed with logic and data.
  • Integrators value connection and draw teams together. Relationships and responsibility to the group are paramount. Integrators tend to believe that most things are relative. They’re diplomatic and focused on gaining consensus.

The four styles give teams a common language for understanding how people work
Teams that bring these styles together should, in theory, enjoy the many benefits of cognitive diversity, ranging from increased creativity and innovation to improved decision making. Yet time and again, diverse teams fail to thrive—sometimes stagnating, sometimes buckling under the weight of conflict. The first step for leaders hoping to turn that around is to identify the different styles of their team members and understand what makes each individual tick.

Managing the Styles
Once you’ve identified the work styles of your team members and have begun to consider how the differences are beneficial or problematic, you must actively manage them.

Pull your opposites closer
Often, the biggest pain points are in one-on-one relationships when opposite styles collide. Each of the styles is different from the others, but they’re not different in equal measure. For example, Guardians are generally more reserved than Drivers—but both types are very focused, which can help them find common ground. Guardians and Pioneers, however, are true opposites, as are Integrators and Drivers. By pulling your opposites closer, you can create complementary partnerships in your team.

Elevate the ‘tokens’ on your team
As you’d expect, the interpersonal problems that tend to arise when opposite styles come together can put a damper on collaboration. Each type cited different reasons for the difficulties.
For example, one Driver explained why she doesn’t enjoy working with Integrators:
“I find it exhausting to do all the small talk to make everyone feel good about working together. I just want to get things done, give honest and direct feedback, and move forward. Having to worry about sensitive feelings slows me down.”
An Integrator who found Drivers challenging to work with said:
“I need to process things to get the contextual background for the big picture. Drivers often speak in code or thought fragments that we need to translate.”
We were told by a Guardian:
“I’m always thinking about how I’m going to implement something…and while the Pioneers have great ideas, they typically can’t be bothered with discussing how to execute them. But, if the outcome doesn’t match their vision, they’re frustrated!”
And a Pioneer admitted:
“I have a very difficult time adjusting to a Guardian’s style. I am decisive and like to generate ideas without judgment. Guardians can come across as judgmental, and they don’t allow creativity to flow.”

Despite the havoc, such differences can wreak on team performance, opposite styles can balance each other out. Still, that takes time, effort and good leadership.

Encourage anyone in the minority to speak up
You might ask, Why bother catering to sensitive introverts? Shouldn’t people be able to adapt and manage their stress? To speak up even when it’s difficult?

Research shows that people who are more introverted or sensitive have particular strengths that can benefit teams and organizations. For example, they tend to be conscientious and thorough—good at spotting errors and potential risks. They can focus intensely for long periods of time. They often tackle and excel at the detail-oriented work that others can’t or simply don’t want to do. So while reaching out to sensitive introverts may be labor-intensive, the effort should pay off.


This article is an outline of an article published in Harvard Business Review. To read the full article, please click here.

To help leaders with their teams Deloitte developed a system called Business Chemistry. For more information please get in touch with Piet Hein Meeter or Marianne Linzel.


Piet Hein Meeter
Deloitte Legal
+31 6 5129 2432





Marianne Linzel
Deloitte Legal
+31 6 8201 2546