Posted: 05 Apr. 2019 5 min. read

Pioneers value possibilities and spark energy and imagination

This first post in a four-part series about the Business Chemistry types. Read the other posts, about GuardiansDrivers, and Integrators.

If we could capture the essence of the Pioneer in one word, it would be POSSIBILITIES. Pioneers love imagining what could be and don’t hesitate to reach beyond the status quo. Expressions like “What if . . . ?,” “Picture this . . . ,” "Yes, and . . . ,” and “Why not?” are music to a Pioneer’s ears, and often are lead-ins to lively brainstorms. Pioneers are big fans of collaborative idea generation. They’re very comfortable with ambiguity and highly adaptable to change—whether they’re the ones initiating it, as is often the case, or not.

Strong Pioneers tend to be easy to spot because they’re typically high energy and outgoing. They’re the ones you can hear all the way down the hallway before you even get to the conference room. Or more likely, you’ll hear them coming down the hallway as you wait in the conference room because they’ll be running late. They have little regard for rigid structure and an almost allergic aversion to details. That agenda the team put together so painstakingly? Don’t expect the Pioneers to follow it. Their thinking can be non-linear and resists constraint. That detailed review of the pivot table analysis you had planned? Their eyes will blur and their minds will wander as you strain what paltry patience they possess. But give them a juicy, open-ended challenge and a whiteboard, and they’ll be formidable idea generators.

Business Chemistry Pioneer personality traits

Pioneers often think while speaking, formulating their opinions as they talk. It’s one reason they like working in teams (after all, a Pioneer in a fishbowl office talking to him or herself can look a little strange). Those able to follow a Pioneer’s vocal stream of consciousness will note the non-linear way they tend to jump from one thought to the next. And don’t expect any long, awkward pauses in conversation—a Pioneer will be only too happy to fill them. 

Don’t expect Pioneers to stick to any one task or activity for long. They tune out and are easily distracted. In their eagerness to move onto the next thing (same old same old is sooooo boring), Pioneers usually make decisions quickly and spontaneously, based on gut feel versus any careful consideration of the data. Pioneers are very comfortable with risk and are likely confident that their inherent adaptability will carry them through, regardless of where they land. 

Overall the Pioneer working style is fast, fun, and free of inconvenient facts that might inhibit possibilities. Indeed, there are few things that Pioneers dislike more than someone raining on their parade. For a Pioneer, it’s more important to expand upon what could be than to analyze why it can’t be because, for Pioneers, there is rarely such a thing as a dead end. Isn’t there always another option, another path that hasn’t been considered? That’s how Pioneers see it. They generally believe that where there’s a will—and a great idea—there’s a way. The problem is, finding the way usually entails a devil of details that the Pioneer has little tolerance for, and thus leaves (dumps) in the hands of others. 

Pioneers have more fun. No really, it’s true, and fun is a word they use frequently as if to reinforce the point. These free-wheeling, idea-sparking, optimistic individuals bring positive energy to everything they do, and because they value diverse opinions and love to collaborate, they happily bring others along on their wild ride. Better still, since they mostly hang out in the rarified air of lofty ideas and big picture thinking, they don’t tend to stress about the pesky details or complex processes lurking underneath. Indeed, Pioneers are the least stressed of all types. So is it any great surprise that our research shows that, given a choice, more people would wish to be a Pioneer than any other type? (And that includes those who are Pioneers.) But they’re also the type others find most challenging to work with.



Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships on Amazon
This is an excerpt from our book Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships (Wiley, 2018). Click the image to purchase the book on Amazon.

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Suzanne Vickberg (aka Dr. Suz)

Suzanne Vickberg (aka Dr. Suz)

Research Lead | Deloitte Greenhouse®

Dr. Suz is a social-personality psychologist and a leading practitioner of Deloitte’s Business Chemistry, which Deloitte uses to guide clients as they explore how their work is shaped by the mix of individuals who make up a team. Previously serving in Deloitte’s Talent organization, since 2014 she’s been coaching leaders and teams in creating cultures that enable each member to thrive and make their best contribution. Along with her Deloitte Greenhouse colleague Kim Christfort, Suzanne co-authored the book Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships as well as a Harvard Business Review cover feature on the same topic. She also leads the Deloitte Greenhouse research program focused on Business Chemistry and is the primary author of the Business Chemistry blog. An “unapologetic introvert” and Business Chemistry Guardian-Dreamer, you will never-the-less often find her in front of a room, a camera, or a podcast microphone speaking about Business Chemistry or Suzanne and Kim’s second book, The Breakthrough Manifesto: Ten Principles to Spark Transformative Innovation, which digs deep into methodologies and mindsets to help obliterate barriers to change and ignite a whole new level of creative problem-solving. Suzanne is a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate with an MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business and a doctorate in Social-Personality Psychology from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. She is also a professional coach, certified by the International Coaching Federation. She has lectured at Rutgers Business School and several colleges in the CUNY system, and before joining Deloitte in 2009, she gained experience in the health care and consulting fields. A mom of two teenagers, she maintains her native Minnesota roots and currently resides in New Jersey, where she volunteers for several local organizations with a focus on hunger relief.