Pioneers, Drivers, Integrators, and Guardians

Suzanne M. Johnson Vickberg & Kim Christfort

Updated GOAL Academy


Is your team functioning at its best? Want to expand your team’s creativity and enhance their decision making? In this HBR article, Suzanne M. Johnson Vickberg and Kim Christfort, leaders in the Business Chemistry system at Deloitte, explore the new science of team chemistry using an assessment that reveals four workplace personality preferences.

Understanding these four workplace styles can help leaders and teams decode typical frustrations and find a common language for knowing how people work. So, which work style do you fall into?

What You’ll Learn

After completing the work on this page, you will be able to:

  • Know the four primary work styles and which one characterizes you
  • Recall three management strategies for synchronizing and maximizing these work styles on your team
  • Realize the benefits of finding a common language about how people work

Read the Article

Dig Deeper

After reading the article, reflect on the following questions. Jot down your thoughts.  Consider sharing this video with a colleague or a work group for an insightful discussion.

The following three items are meant to be conducted in one sitting. It is helpful if everyone participating in this exercise is familiar with the article.

  1. With a colleague, a few colleagues, or your entire work team, characterize your own personal work styles. Write your work style on a sticky note, place it on yourself like a name tag, and share with each other what your individual styles are. No one style is better than another.
  2. After sharing your styles, collectively discuss what is beneficial and challenging about working with your polar opposite work style. Pioneers will talk about Guardians and vice versa, while Drivers will do the same with Integrators. Keep the conversation general and tactful, not using specific colleagues’ names.
  3. Discuss which management strategies from the article or otherwise that would help improve your team’s dynamics. After you have identified a few concrete strategies, make a plan to employ at least one tactic that you identified. Give it some time to start being effective, then celebrate your accomplishments, revisit your plan, and fine tune your strategies.

Still Hungry?

Here’s more to spark your thinking on this topic:

This is a four part series. Consider reading each of the 4 related articles. Scroll past the article above to find the following three articles or click the links below:

  1. How Work Styles Inform Leadership
  2. If You Understand How the Brain Works, You can Reach Anyone
  3. A Brief History of Personality Tests

NOTE: There is a limit of viewing 4 online articles per month at Harvard Business Review without a paid subscription. If you click on the link to these articles, it will count toward your limit.

Write a Review

  1. This was a great article to spark a discussion of different work styles in a team, and it could be really useful in identifying potential conflicts that might arise.


  2. I was initially skeptical about how useful this model would be, but I asked a work-team I lead to self-identify and discuss the questions. The discussion turned out to be well-received and the model provided insight into the strengths and weaknesses of our team, which have been helpful going forward. I would recommend this team exercise.

  3. This article was really insightful for my small resource management team. It helped us see that perhaps differences in work types explained why some people end up in conflict with each other in the context of project planning and interdisciplinary team (IDT) meetings. We felt that we could apply this understanding to be more effective at guiding the process and that bringing this awareness to the greater IDT would help the team work together better.


  4. I’ve actually gone back to this article a few times and shared it with a number of colleagues, even my supervisor. It provides a great platform for discussing team dynamics and presents a clear picture of how our individual work styles impact the group.


  5. This article just made sense for my team at work. It really helped me understand other people and there approach to problem solving. It is a great article to share with your team and see if they see themselves the same way you might.


  6. This article really helped our team learn how our work style preferences my lead to misunderstandings. We initially discussed it as a small group, but thought it was valuable enough to assign time to it at a team meeting. It really allowed us the tools for discussing how to give the quieter voices space and time to contribute to important discussions.


Arrow pointing upwards. Click this icon to go back to the top of the page.