Posted: 12 Jun. 2024 4 min. read

Better together: The powerful interplay between primary and secondary Business Chemistry types

By Kim Christfort

One of the things I’ve always valued about co-authoring with Dr. Suz is the real-world opportunity to put our Business Chemistry principles into practice. Suzanne and I represent distinctly different, and complementary, Business Chemistry styles. Whereas she has shared that she’s a Guardian and also a Dreamer (a sub-type of Integrator), I am primarily defined by the Pioneer style, with Driver as my secondary. She shared recently how her primary and secondary styles work together, so I thought I’d take a moment to dive into what that pairing looks like from my side of the Business Chemistry landscape.

I should probably start by saying that I am quite a strong Pioneer. So strong that I often joke (not joke) that I suffer from hypo-Guardianism, as I have a score of zero on that dimension (did I mention how much I appreciate partnering with Dr. Suz?). Given such a significant Pioneer orientation, you might think that this primary style might outweigh and overwhelm everything else. Particularly since Pioneer as a style can be quite a lot—high energy, nonlinear, possibilities-seeking.

But, in fact, my secondary plays a significant and very present role in my life. To be fair, this might be in part because my secondary type is Driver, a style unlikely to hide shyly in the corner (similar to my Pioneer), and the MOST likely of all the styles to be unapologetic about being present! Regardless of the reason, my Driver secondary—logical, analytical, goal-oriented—works in tandem with my Pioneer primary and is an integral part of who I am.

My Pioneer loves that my job has the word “Innovation” in the title, with infinite opportunities to imagine and ideate and “what if” up the wazoo. Our team’s focus on creating experiences that help people get to breakthrough provides fertile ground to explore novel ways to capture people’s attention, dial up the drama, and have fun. A recent example: In the new Deloitte Greenhouse space we just launched, my Pioneer got to imagine and manifest a full-scale (8 feet tall, 18 feet long) Rube Goldberg inspired machine concept as an engaging way to think about digital twins. Talk about fun.

But if I didn’t have my Driver as a solid partner to my Pioneer, I’m not sure that our innovation in motion wall would have come into being, nor any of the many ideas bouncing around in my brain. I believe my Driver secondary is what allows my Pioneer primary to actually achieve all the big ideas it’s so excited about, and that they get results. Because while I’m responsible for “Innovation,” I’m also responsible for creating impact for some of the world’s largest organizations, working in a complex organization composed of 171,000 people in the United States. That requires deep focus, pragmatism, and goal-oriented strategic thinking. My Pioneer delights in generating possibilities, but my Driver is what channels that bounty into productive outcomes.

My Driver is not simply a filter for my Pioneer divergence, however. I believe the Driver desire for clarity and direction also helps improve the quality and relevance of my Pioneer ideations. The expression “constraint breeds creativity” is perhaps an apt description of the effect I experience. As my Pioneer is off and running with a brainstorm, my Driver is running alongside asking the tough questions: What are we trying to solve for? How might we do that without incremental resources? Is there a way to achieve multiple goals with one effort? These in-the-moment “challenges” (and, oh, how my Driver loves that word) force my Pioneer to be agile and inventive (and, oh, how my Pioneer loves that).

Surprisingly, while I feel that my Pioneer-Driver combo is truly defining of the way I think and process information, I’ve found that many people will accurately guess my Pioneer primary (kind of hard to miss) but will frequently guess Integrator rather than Driver as my secondary. I suspect this is because behaviorally I lack a few of the more obvious features of Drivers—the often blunt style and comfort with confrontation—and instead demonstrate some of the prominent Integrator features like diplomacy and facilitation (and indeed, I do have a healthy share of Integrator in my overall mix). Whereas the aspects of Driver that I do demonstrate more visibly are either shared with my Pioneer primary (for example, impatience) or are delivered in a way that’s matched to the receiving party’s style because, with a true Driver’s orientation to a goal, that’s the best way to get the job done. An outcome that ultimately makes both my styles happy.

Talk it Over

This can be a fun and informative discussion with your colleagues. Consider reflecting on and sharing your answers to these questions:

  1. Do you feel like you most identify with your primary, your primary-secondary as a combo, or some other mix?
  2. Do your styles show up differently in different contexts? How does that help or hinder you?
  3. Do you think other people accurately perceive your style beyond your primary? Why or why not?


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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.