The Essential Member You Need on Your Team: The Synergist

Synergist
In trying to understand the dynamics of team interactions, Les McKeown writes in The Synergist, that people tend to act primarily in one of three naturally occurring styles: the Visionary, the Operator or the Processor. (A free assessment is available online.) The Visionary thinks big, generates creative ideas, and takes risks. They also become irritated by detail and can disengage easily when bored. Operators get stuff done. They take the Visionary’s big idea and translate it into actionable tasks. They like to be left to work alone and will do whatever is necessary to complete the task they’re given, even if it means breaking a few rules. Processors devise and monitor the systems and procedures necessary to enable an organization or enterprise to deliver consistent results in a complex environment. They think linearly and objectively, and are averse to undue risk. The problem is that as stand-alone approaches they get in each other’s way because each achieve a sense of fulfillment or satisfaction in very different, often competing ways. Not surprisingly, teams (or any group of people trying to achieve something together) come to gridlock because fundamentally they have different motivations, different goals, and different perspectives. As a result, it’s just a matter of time until any group or team will implode, gridlock, or simply underperform. Since the point of a team is to “pool the knowledge, experience, and skills of each individual member in order that they may together produce high-quality decisions on behalf of the enterprises as a whole,” another style must be introduced. That style or role is that of the Synergist. The Synergist is not focused on their own way of doing things, but rather on what is best for the organization, team or group. This “helicopter view” gives them a better vantage point from which to interact with the team in a positive way. McKeown notes that “the Synergist is a style that anyone can emulate irrespective of their natural style. Any Visionary, Operator, or Processor can (and should) learn also to be a Synergist.” The Synergist style isn’t persistent and intervenes with the team only at key moments to resolve conflict, choreograph the other style’s interactions, harmonize their output, and move them effectively on to their next topic or project. McKeown’s explanation of each style is illuminating and might help explain why your team interacts the way it does and what can be done about it. In a chapter devoted to each he explains what the style is, how for work for one, how to work with one, and how to work as one. Get your team to take the assessment and talk about the results. A lot can be accomplished if we add the Synergist to our individual styles instead of insisting that the world work just the way we see it.
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Moving beyond our own perspective can create unseen opportunities and forward movement. Learn the role of the Synergist and add it to your leadership style.
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