Posted: 19 Feb. 2019 7 min. read

Guardians: How to recognise them and how to work with them

Now that you’ve learned how to spot DriversPioneers, and Integrators, and how to get the best out of your interactions, these are ours insights on working with Guardians. Once you know about all four types, you’ll have a good idea of which type you are and you may be able to ‘hunch’ your colleagues. By this we mean to make an educated guess, a hypothesis if you will, as to another individual’s primary Business Chemistry preference.

Recognising a Guardian

Guardian motto: Changing the world, one spreadsheet at a time

Guardians are structured, meticulous, focused on the details, and practical. If you’re paying attention to these things you might be able to spot a Guardian easily, but they’re the most reserved of all the Business Chemistry types so they don’t always make themselves known. They’re also the most introverted of the four types which means they can be quite reluctant to speak up in a group situation, particularly where others are dominating the conversation or fighting for the floor.

When it comes to making decisions, a Guardian can take a while as they need to study all the information available to them. They’re most comfortable with what’s familiar and have a tendency to go with the status quo. For this reason they tend to be risk averse, so when making a decision that involves a new direction they’re going to be quite cautious. Once you have them on board though, they’ll make a positive contribution and you can rely on them to deliver.

To manage change, Guardians may seek out benchmarks and best practices to ground the decision, and make them more comfortable. Most likely, they will use a deliberate and methodical process for reaching a decision and once they’ve made up their mind they’re unlikely to change it.

How to work with a Guardian

Guardians dislike ambiguity, and respond best to concrete facts, proven principles, and established practices. When you make a plan with a Guardian they’re going to expect you to stick with it. If you don’t, they may see you as unreliable. They also place great value on loyalty, so demonstrating that can take you a long way.

A Guardian craves detail, so be ready to provide it and prepared to answer lots of questions, address possible risks, and clarify uncertainties. Be patient and take the emotion out of your argument if you can. The Guardian likes to ensure proper due diligence is carried out when trying something new.

Type-specific tips for working with a Guardian:

If you’re an Integrator, you’ll find you have common ground with a Guardian on some aspects, such as your tendency to be introspective and considered. You’re similar in your non-confrontational style and a Guardian is likely to be as conflict-avoidant as you are. Just make sure you address the important issues together when necessary, even if they’re difficult to broach. You may need to adjust your level of structure and focus a little to fit with a Guardian; your thinking style can be more non-linear and can feel scattered to them. Also, your big-picture focus won’t give them the specifics they’re likely to need, so consider what they’ll want from you before interacting with them.

If you’re a Driver, you may find that Guardians also thrive on facts and data, but they’re likely to need more of these than you do and they’ll probably take longer considering them so you’ll need to try to be patient. Be prepared to review the details further, even if you’ve already reached a conclusion personally, and don’t attempt to take short-cuts.

If you’re a Pioneer, you may need to calm it down a little. Guardians tend to be very composed and value composure in others, and your high energy approach may be too much for them at times. Guardians also tend to have a lot of respect for rules and hierarchy, so try to avoid flaunting your propensity toward rule-breaking – it won’t be appreciated. Try to be on time, follow through with your commitments, stick to the process, and ground your big ideas in facts. And please, don’t neglect the detail.

If you’re a Guardian yourself, most likely you will appreciate being with someone who understands you and where you’re coming from. This can be problematic though as two Guardians together may soon find themselves drowning in detail. Try to avoid analysis-paralysis and ensure you’re moving things forward. You may run into difficulty if your ‘way of doing things’ is different from your Guardian colleague’s way, as you’re both likely to want to stick to what’s familiar, so be prepared to meet in the middle.

Guardians amongst you, any other advice?

Read the other posts in this series, on PioneersDrivers, and Integrators, and subscribe to the blog below to be sure you don’t miss future posts! You can also read more on Business Chemistry at our website.

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Key contact

Jessica Dooley

Jessica Dooley

Senior Manager

Jessica founded and leads Deloitte’s Business Chemistry client practice for the UK and North South Europe member firms. A business behavioural tool designed to help teams communicate and collaborate better for greater success, Business Chemistry is a proprietary self-assessment tool used to support boards, executive, and senior leadership teams across the FTSE, private, and public sectors. She helps teams understand each other’s working styles; hold honest conversations; be better leaders of diverse teams; build plans for enhanced collaboration; team deliberately for a common purpose; and build trust quickly to achieve strategic and organisational goals. The book ‘Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Relationships – a guide to putting cognitive diversity to work’ was released in the US and UK in May 2018.