Author’s Note: When assessing teams and individual talents, one of the profiling tools we used is The Inventory for Work Attitude & Motivation, or better known as iWAM. With the tool, we can measure your people across 48 competencies, and over this series of articles, we will be exploring deeper into each of the different sets. And because it’s easier to reference them against their behavior, we will create fictional characters for each different competency sets. By fictional, do know that they do not reflect anyone in the real world. After all, the focus is their behavior and the psychology behind it, rather than the person themselves. The aim is so you can understand your team members and leaders better, what makes them do the things they do, and from that understanding, develop better work relationships.

Here’s a quick snapshot of Aileen, someone who’s an Initiator

  • Very proactive, quick to jump to action
  • Don’t put in too much thought, believes in getting things moving
  • Self-started, always the first to initiate projects
  • Makes mistakes along the way, work around/over it, and then move forward again

You’ve probably had an Aileen in your team, or at least work with one. She’s the one who will take immediate action the moment the brief is over, and often don’t even wait for more details before starting. Usually the first on the scene to kick off the project, Aileen will have the label of being proactive, self-starter or someone who takes initiative to get work done.

That’s because team members like Aileen beliefs in taking action and not spending too much thinking about things. Sure, strategies and planning are important, but to Aileen, you will only know what works and what doesn’t, by actually taking action. Sitting down and talking about plans, as a matter of fact, will demotivate her, making her anxious to get out of the room and on the ground.

However, because of her action-driven nature, Aileen may get into problems more often. Then again, because she’s in momentum, she will just bulldoze her way through. As a leader, while Aileen may have the energy to pick herself up and keep going, her often careless mistakes will cost you money, time and energy.

The key to work with Aileen is not to make her feel she’s being slowed down. Instead, get her to understand that by putting some short moments into planning and strategizing can ensure she can smooth-sail through her project without detours and hiccups. Give her a few checklists to go through before taking action is good, as long as the list is not too long, overly detailed and time-consuming.


Here’s a quick snapshot of Jordan, someone who’s Reflective & Patient

  • To many team members, or even yourself as the leader, you might have commented that Jordan is slow
  • He takes time to think through his approaches and strategies, before taking any action.
  • He may seem like constantly caught in his own thoughts, lost in his own world
  • He will often draw on past experiences to make decisions in the present
  • He will usually take time to test and wait out the results of his strategies as well

We all have Jordans on our team before, are we are all guilty of calling him slow, non-productive, or even lazy. It’s quite understandable because observing from the outside, he would seem to be thinking and not doing any work.

However, you will find that the Jordans on your team to always finish their own on time. For example, if you give a task to Jordan and assign a one week dateline, you will notice that for the first few days, he will seem as if he’s not doing anything. Then again, by the end of the week, he will have the task completed and submitted to you.

Such is the work process of someone like Jordan, who spends a tremendous amount of time reflective and drawing from his past experiences, and patiently executes his plans. He doesn’t believe in darting in multiple directions, just to hit walls and make mistakes. Instead, he believed by carefully planning his execution, he can avoid pitfalls altogether, improving his productivity and efficiency.

If you have a Jordan on the team, one way is to have trust in his abilities to deliver the results. Yes, you will have to hold back your judgments when he seemed to be “doing” nothing, but just remember, that’s how he works. At the same time, you may also want to coach him to pen down his thoughts so that the others on the team are aware that he is working on the project, even though it’s mostly in his head.

As a leader, you will tend to have Jordans and Aileen in your team, and most of the time, they may even be at odds with each other. One would complain about the other’s carelessness. Then again, the other would make a remark of how the former is slow and unproductive. Your job as a leader, perhaps firstly, is to let both parties know that they have very different modes on taking action, but each would bring along their strengths too. End of the day, it’s the synergy of the team that counts.

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