We’ve all done it – Meyers Briggs, True Colors, DiSC or some other workplace personality test designed to help us gain personal insight and build team cohesion.
But, as innovators, how do we apply our understanding of different personalities and workstyles to generate creativity and synergy? How do we not only manage, but successfully innovate, across an array of workstyles?
1. Being clever isn’t enough – innovators are people-smart and self-smart
As a leader and innovator, you need to be on top of industry trends, organizational bottom line and your competitors’ priorities – to foster new ideas. But being an innovator also requires you to be people-smart. It starts with knowing yourself and being good at “people reading.” When you’re meeting with someone, think: is this person fast-paced and outspoken or thoughtful and reflective? Questioning and analytical or warm and intuitive? This quick analysis will start to give you a quick read on the person’s preferred style – and how you can bring out the most creative and innovative side of this person.
2. Create an “innovation council” of diverse workstyles It’s natural to gravitate to those who share your same workstyle traits. But, as an innovator, you’ll benefit from a “council” that represents a cross-section of diverse workstyles. This might be a formal group you meet with regularly for brainstorming sessions or an informal group you check in with for informal chats. They might not all be inside the organization. But these diverse voices can help spark creativity in you – and themselves.
3. Show others you value neurodiversity
Differences of approach and thinking are incredibly valuable to the creative and innovative process. Demonstrate that you value all workstyles by accepting their contributions on their own terms. For example, allow quieter and more reflective people time and space to be heard during brainstorms.
Jim Grieve is Executive Director of The Retired Teachers of Ontario, an organization of 72,000 educators in the early years, K-12 and post-secondary systems, as well as school board workers. From 2009 to 2015, Jim was Assistant Deputy Minister of Early Years for the Ontario Ministry of Education, responsible for full-day kindergarten, child care and family support programs. He led the work of creating a seamless early learning experience for children from birth onward.