Posted: 19 Feb. 2019 6 min. read

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

Now we’ve looked at Drivers and Integrators, and provided some tips on working with them, we still have two types left. And how can we be expected to adapt (or ‘flex’) our style and behaviours in the right way if we don’t know the preferences of those we’re addressing? So let’s get on with it and explore the Pioneer type!

Recognising a Pioneer

Pioneer motto: Have fun. It’s just work.

More than anything, a Pioneer can be recognised by their spontaneity and penchant for brainstorming. Most likely they’ll be the first one in a group to pick up a pen and start mapping out an idea in front of them, drawing as they think and thinking while they draw.

As the most extroverted of the four types, Pioneers are usually energetic and expressive, and have broad networks and collaborative styles. They aren’t fazed by change and like to jump in and lead the charge toward new horizons.

When it comes to decision-making, Pioneers don’t hang about. They tend to make quick decisions, go with their gut, have a high tolerance for ambiguity and risk, and aren’t afraid to change their minds.

How to work with a Pioneer

If you want to keep a Pioneer engaged, don’t limit their creativity or give them boundaries. If you can, try to avoid too much structure and process, and when possible, the word ‘no’. Pioneers don’t like to be told ‘it can’t be done’.

More specific advice depends on your own type:

If you’re a Driver, you and a Pioneer may find a groove by exploring new ideas and experimenting together. You can help bolster the ideas you co-create by providing the facts to support them. Be careful not to go too deep into logic though, Pioneers are more interested in possibility. You may also need to be cautious about being overly direct or trying to run the show. Pioneers are collaborative but also like to be in charge and are likely to bristle against feeling controlled.

If you’re an Integrator, you and a Pioneer both value working closely with others so could be great collaborators. You may also enjoy thinking big together, but don’t forget to address critical details, something which doesn’t tend to come naturally. You may also need to pick up the pace; Pioneers like to move quickly and they may feel impatient with your tendency to consider things more thoroughly or if you want to get everyone else’s view before coming up with a decision.

If you’re a Guardian, you may struggle to find common ground with a Pioneer and will therefore have to stretch more than a little to capture their interest. As far as you can manage, let go of your need for structure, process, and rules. Try to focus more on the possibilities than the facts and don’t be too quick to dismiss the Pioneer’s big ideas, even if they seem impractical. Pioneers tend to have lots of ideas so use your skills to consider them, and help the Pioneer home in on those that are most realistic.

If you’re a Pioneer yourself, you and a fellow Pioneer just might come up with the next world-changing idea together, but you could get very little accomplished if you’re not careful! Have fun brainstorming together, feed off each other’s energy, and revel in your mutual sky’s-the-limit approach. But remember to bring things back to earth to think about implementation.

Pioneers, any other advice?

Read the other posts in this series, on IntegratorsDrivers, and Guardians, and visit our website to find out how we can support your team to drive results. Oh, and don't forget to subscribe to the Business Chemistry blog so you don't miss future posts!

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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.