Punching Down the Warrior Style Influence on Me - The Balance

The Power of Understanding Yourself: The Key to Self-Discovery, Personal Development, and Being the Best You - Dave Mitchell 2019

Punching Down the Warrior Style Influence on Me
The Balance

Either give me more wine or leave me alone.


The time/value ratio lurks like a specter in the consciousness of the Warrior. If your D column score is below 30, it is a constant influence on your behavior. If, like my score, your D column approaches 20 or even less, the force of its impact in large part defines you.

Warriors assess each moment of the day based on its value. You may not be entirely aware of this process, but I can assure you that it is taking place. It manifests itself in odd ways, ranging from the desire to continuously multitask, apply pressure to others to get to the point, the need to make “to-do lists to ensure productivity, and the ever-present search for metrics (scoreboard) to evaluate progress and results.

Despite my efforts to define my wander ponders as wonderful moments of Zen punctuated by the occasional burst of revelation, the truth is they are competitions. Sure, I use them to clear my mind, and by so doing, allow that vacuum to fill with new ideas and clarity of action. But my Warrior preference stands as an obstacle to true mindfulness. First, I list these events as “hikes” on my day timer (yes, I am old school). They are planned days in advance. Second, when I am home I take my wander ponders at the same place, Bennington Lake, each time. Although it is a beautiful area in Walla Walla, the reason for selecting the same location is so I can monitor my pace. I have identified three different hiking loops: a 5K, a four-mile, and a five-mile hike. Depending on my time constraints and general physical status, I can choose the best loop. For all three, I have identified mileposts. These mileposts reflect a specific point in each hike where I evaluate my speed by checking the time elapsed when I arrive at this spot. None of this sounds especially Zen.

Although the constant evaluation of the value of time invested may seem like a burden, it is exceptionally useful to the Warrior. It drives them to get things done. It is conducive to continuous improvement. It shapes their need to evaluate success and to think critically about processes. Now, it also is accompanied by some drawbacks: impatience, competitiveness, the inability to suffer fools gladly, and a tendency to be very direct when communicating with others. I also think my strong Warrior preference has required me to be more aware of listening skills, an important metacognitive revelation a few years back.

After our first child was born, my lovely bride accepted the position of director of domestic affairs. Stay-at-home mom (the common vernacular of the time) did not seem to capture the wide ranging and all-consuming responsibilities that a parent undertakes when she or he runs a household and raises children while their spouse continues to work outside the home. Each day I would come home from work and inquire about her day — and I was genuinely interested in this account. After all, these were the two loves of my life. And yet, within a few minutes of Lori recounting the daily activities, I found myself mentally drifting to other thoughts — particularly related to tasks that I needed to get started. It was as if my own time/value ratio evaluator had assigned a specific number of minutes for Lori’s update; an allocation that was far less than Lori’s account of her day would take. Rightfully, she grew annoyed when she became aware of my drifting interest. My Warrior preference was irritating her Romantic/Mastermind style. And my Romantic preference felt bad that I was doing this.

Four things helped to alleviate this disconnect. I say “helped” because, as the saying goes today, “the struggle is real.” Although I have not completely eliminated my tendency to get distracted by my need to “be productive” (as if listening to Lori’s day isn’t), I have become a much better listener by employing these strategies.

First, I make sure that my to-do list is always current. Somehow, knowing that the tasks that I believe need to be completed comprehensively listed on this document reassures my mind that I will accomplish what is necessary within the expected time frame.

Second, I remove all other distractions. Whereas Masterminds are distracted by their own ideas, Warrior can be distracted by opportunities to multitask. They are confident in their ability to selectively listen while also working on the computer, watching television, checking their phone, paying bills, etc. The truth is that one can only listen effectively if one only focuses on that act. I learned to set aside all other tasks and focus entirely on listening.

Third, and perhaps this is unique to me, I encourage Lori to share her day as if it was a story that unfolded on chronological order. This seems counterintuitive to the Warriors preferred bullet point style of summaries. I wanted context, order, and elaboration. Perhaps it was my Romantic style that craved the emotional content. Warriors who are not influenced by a Romantic preference may not experience this same dichotomy.

Finally, and this is true of all Warriors, I had to learn to listen simply to understand, not to contribute. Contributing, generally in the form of “helpful advice” or topic redirection, was not useful unless it was specifically requested. My role was not to solve any problems or assign priorities to our dialogue. My role was to actively listen and understand what was being shared. Warriors are more comfortable solving problems with the necessary information rather than simply acquiring knowledge for the its own sake. I had to reframe my mental response from solution provider to sounding board.

So, if your assessment demonstrates a preference for the Warrior style, be proud of your ability to get results, think critically, and apply efficiency to most all of life’s events. Also, be aware that your ability to listen to understand, not to evaluate, may be a critical developmental opportunity for you.

A Warrior with a Secondary Expert (lowest score D column, next-lowest score A column)

This style combines a sensitivity for logic (efficiency) with a sensitivity for facts (accuracy). I refer to this combination as the Sage. The Sage recalls the seasoned veteran who has decades of experience in role that has many technical requirements. They can get things done on time and accurately because of both their knowledge of the details and their awareness of the shortcuts, cheats, and work-arounds that they can use to save time without incurring unnecessary risk. As we explored previously, the Specialist reverses these two preferences — which makes them most sensitive to accuracy and therefore more cautious as they refine processes. The Sage is more sensitive to results, which provides them more willingness to apply pressure to processes to yield more production. This subtle difference is important.

I was reminded of the Sage’s style at a recent speaking engagement. I was the last speaker of the day. My client had invested in copies of my book for each attendee. Knowing that things would be a bit chaotic after the session ended and wanting to distribute the books to each participant, they decided to place the books on the tables at which the attendees sat. It made sense to me.

During the seminar, the attendees completed the assessment. One of the most anticipated moments in the seminar is the “reveal” of what the results mean. After 23 years and over 2,000 seminars, I still get excited about having the participants stand for each of the categories. This typically occurs after a break. Since the time it takes to complete the assessment varies slightly among everyone, I instruct them to complete the assessment, take a break, and reconvene in 20 minutes. Of course, it was the Sage who would use the 20 minutes to research their results in a copy of the book at their table. The combination of results and knowledge conspired to undermine my plan to build anticipation. It made me laugh. I was half surprised that the Sage didn’t leave after they had sufficiently understood their own style.

The Sage’s contrasting balance falls in the Romantic and Mastermind preferences. Sages are not known to be flexible nor diplomatic. When one is pursuing a speedy result using an efficient process for which they may know of few hacks to quicken the pace, the last thing they would seek is consensus or input. Balancing their “need for speed and process” with some space for discussion of morale issues and new ideas can be of great value to the Sage. Although the adage of the Sage may be “it’s not personal, it’s business,” the effect of that on employee motivation can be detrimental.

From a resiliency standpoint, the Sage thrives when allowed independence to achieve results in a consistent and structured environment. Too much “meddling” from others or situations that become unpredictable or unreliable can create chronic stress. For the most part, the Sage appreciates strong processes; however, unyielding requirements of compliance to the detriment of results can also cause them duress. The point, for the Sage, is to be done — and an efficient process is critical to that. That process should be open to refinement when the details get in the way of the result. Table 14.1 gives a short summary of the Sage style.

Table 14.1 The Sage Punch Down

Complementary Versus Contrasting Balance

Preferences Versus Vulnerabilities

Impact on Resiliency

· Primary style = Warrior

· Complementary Style = Expert

· Contrasting Styles = Romantic and Mastermind

· A gift for getting things done accurately.

· Focuses on efficiency and execution.

· Often seen as inflexible and even superior.

· Prefers well- defined metrics for compliance and production.

· Excels in environments with static, objective measures for success.

· Makes experience duress in “touchy feely” environments or when dealing with chaotic situations.

A Warrior with a Secondary Romantic (lowest score D column, next-lowest score B column)

Corporate executives often ask me if it is prudent to assess the interactive style of job applicants. This is a common practice among human resources professionals and hiring authorities. Typically, my response is “no.” I firmly believe that anyone can be successful in any job — provided the organization supports his or her approach and so long as he or she has the skills and/or aptitude necessary to perform that job. “Hire character, train skills, lead style” is my mantra as it relates to the employee selection process.

However, there has been one notable exception to this guiding principle in my career. I found that for service-related business, the Hired Gun (lowest score D column, next lowest B column) is a great style.

Like the Crusader, the Hired Gun uses both logic and emotion when communicating. This cocktail of pathos and logos is intoxicating and compelling. The Hired Gun is not easily dissuaded from their goals; yet they’re simultaneously able to monitor the emotional reaction their pressure is eliciting. Although all Warriors are applying pressure to achieve a result, the Hired Gun is also monitoring the feelings of those around him or her to ensure that relationships are not damaged. Romantics tend to create long-term relationships with clients, whereas Warriors deliver rapid results. Combining those two capabilities makes for a very attractive approach. Further, the Hired Gun, being primarily Warrior, will deliver on the result they desire; the Crusader, being primarily Romantic, may be more prone to self-sacrifice.

This is not to say that if you are a Hired Gun, you should go into sales. Many a motivational speaker has proclaimed that all of us are already in sales . . . selling ourselves, our ideas, our perspectives. The Hired Gun’s style is a persuasive one and influence is an important part of many vocations and life events.

Though the Hired Gun combined two very different styles (Warrior and Romantic) like the Crusader, the primary Warrior style helps to insulate them from the stress that accompanies that dynamic. With a clear goal and strategy, the Hired Gun uses their sensitivity to emotion as a monitoring tool rather than a basis for their actions.

The contrasting styles for the Hired Gun are Expert and Mastermind. Hired Guns may devalue the details and usually need to take the time to assess risk. The role of risk can be ambiguous in Hired Guns’ choices. They are driven by the need to win while not damaging the relationships around them. Think of it as the creation of a sustainable approach to victory within which the people around them remain supportive of the Hired Gun’s desired outcomes. Either side of the risk spectrum is not an immediate consideration. As a result, Hired Guns may not naturally be driven by the caution that leads to accuracy and quality processes like an Expert, nor the excitement of discovery, experimentation, and entrepreneurship associated with the Mastermind. Having both structure and vision present in their pursuit of sustainable success can be very beneficial to the Hired Gun. The irony is that Hired Guns are often quite successful even in the absence of structure and vision, which can serve to deemphasize their importance in their minds. The reality, though, is that a Hired Gun who augments their natural style with the appropriate systems and processes and is stretched by a vision for an even greater desired future state can achieve even more success.

It does not feel natural for the Hired Gun to pursue structure and vision. They are most resilient when working independently and being appreciated for their success. They enjoy the status that comes with being the best and may feel confined by the policies and procedures designed to make their contribution more consistent and reliable. And though they seek independence, they often do not possess the risk tolerance of a true entrepreneur. Preferring to pursue goals over vision, the Hired Gun can experience stress when directed by a conceptual pursuit rather than a strategic one. Giving the Hired Gun a tangible goal rather than a philosophical one is more effective in leading them. Table 14.2 gives a short summary of the Hired Gun style.

Table 14.2 The Hired Gun Punch Down

Complementary Versus Contrasting Balance

Preferences Versus Vulnerabilities

Impact on Resiliency

· Primary style = Warrior

· Complementary Style = Romantic

· Contrasting Styles = Expert and Mastermind

· Very persuasive without negatively affecting relationship.

· Typically exudes charm and confidence.

· May ignore rules or pursue results rather than vision.

· Thrives when appreciated for getting results.

· Prefers goal-based situations.

· May experience stress when not given clear direction or when being micromanaged.

A Warrior with a Secondary Mastermind (lowest score D column, next-lowest score C column)

I first heard the term “specifier” when working with luxury appliance manufacturers. It had never dawned on me that the consumer draws upon their relationships with others when making large purchases. When determining kitchen appliances while building a new home, for example, the homeowners are likely to be influenced by family members, the builder, an interior designer, and the retail salesperson. Each of these people may have their own opinion, perspective, and agenda. I was hired by manufacturing companies to teach their dealer representatives to identify the style of these various specifiers, and help them develop strategies for presenting the value of their product line. In effect, I was teaching them how to influence the specifiers, who would influence the consumer.

With a sensitivity to strategy (Warrior) and vision (Mastermind), there is no more effective specifier than the Power Broker (lowest score D column, second-lowest C column). As I am fond of saying in regard to this style, “They possess clarity of plan and clarity of goal, and pity the poor person who says, ’I have an idea.’ Idea time is over; doing time has arrived. Go do.” As the name implies, the Power Broker has a relentless desire to achieve the desired goal as quickly as possible.

It should come as no surprise that many C-suite level executives manifest this style. At these highest positions within an organization, it is nearly impossible to maintain the depth of knowledge about the details that the Experts crave. From this viewpoint, the pressure is on achieving the outcomes that will best serve the organization, which can run contrary to the individual needs of those that comprise the company. The Romantic’s emotional sensitivity can become a hindrance to decision making. All of this is not to say that neither the Expert nor the Romantic has no value at the top of the organizational chart; that is absolutely not true. However, it is also accurate to assert that a focus on strategy and vision — particularly within a capitalist system — is more typical at this level than a focus on details and morale. Rare is the company that pulls off the prioritization of all four.

So, as the Power Broker pushes relentlessly and strategically toward the desired future state, they may devalue the systems and processes designed to ensure consistency and reliability — a product of their contrasting style of Expert. They may, too, create some emotional duress by operating according to that “nothing personal, it’s business” mentality — a product of their contrasting Romantic style. In my previous career as a Human Resources executive — and even now on the occasion that I am in the role of consultant — I have often found myself defending the decisions of Power Brokers. The impact on the day-to-day operation or the interim morale of the team are not their priorities; rather, they must focus on the likelihood of competitive advantages and, ultimately, success. The rest are the unfortunate casualties of war, so to speak.

To mitigate the Power Broker’s blind spots, they are well served to have trusted advisors that remind them of the potential cost of their plans and goals. Individuals with a great depth of knowledge about the finer points of the process can provide some governance and protect them from unforced errors or excessive risk. Power Brokers can certainly understand the value of quality, even if it is not the first consideration when pushing for greater productivity. Power Brokers also benefit by having input relative to the emotional lay of the land. Understanding the impact of their ideas and directives on the morale of the organization can be helpful for crafting effective messaging.

Power Brokers work best in situations within which they have tremendous freedom and impact. As one of my favorite clients once told me, “I write the rules; I don’t follow them.” Efforts to unduly control or manage them will cause friction, as will overcommunicating or entwining them in activities that have little perceived impact or value. Routines can be stressful, particularly those that have not shown much in the way of useful results. In general, the best way to handle Power Brokers is to get out of their way. Table 14.3 gives a short summary of the Power Broker style.

Table 14.3 The Power Broker Punch Down

Complementary Versus Contrasting Balance

Preferences Versus Vulnerabilities

Impact on Resiliency

· Primary style = Warrior

· Complementary Style = Mastermind

· Contrasting Styles = Romantic and Expert

· A talent for getting things down creatively.

· Understands the vision and installs strategies for getting desired result.

· Often uninterested in the input of others or “unnecessary” rules.

· Prefers total autonomy to get things done.

· Values flexibility and removal of obstacles to results.

· Stress accompanies activities that are time consuming without commen surate value.

Extracting Me Worksheet

Take some time to complete the “What’s My Style?” section of your worksheet. Since you are a Warrior, this shouldn’t take long (kidding). Take some meaningful time to consider how your style preferences contribute to who you are. Also consider how the styles that are not your primary or secondary preferences affect who you are. Remember, the most obvious component of who we are in others’ minds is our style. For an example of an evaluation of style, see Chapter 15.