A Bowl Full of Peas

Fresh green peas in bowl isolated on white

There are days on this leadership journey when it feels like life would sure be easier if your team thought more like you . . . if everyone had the same perspective, like peas in a pod. And you probably would be more comfortable in such an environment, you just wouldn’t accomplish near as much. For maximum impact, what you really need to do is shell a variety of different peas and mix them throughout your organizational bowl.

Researchers Heidi Halvorson and Tory Higgins point out two of the “peas” you need in your bowl — Promoters and Preventers. Promoters are motivated to make good things happen, to maximize gain. Preventers’ focus is to keep bad things from happening and to minimize loss.

I’m guessing as you read this, the promoters are instantly visualizing the preventers on the team and thinking of examples of how they have created a drag on some exciting new initiative. As a promoter, I get that. But here’s the deal . . . you need both the gas pedal and the brakes to safely traverse the winding roads that we all face in business today. If not for the preventers on the team, the promoters would likely go hurtling off some cliff because they were “traveling too fast for conditions.” Too many promoter “peas in a pod” can be dangerous for your organization. (Of course, too many preventers would never pull onto the road in the first place . . . you get the picture.)

John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen  highlight two additional “peas” you need in your organizational bowl — Performers and Producers. Performers tend to be the organizational darlings, the ones who make their supervisors look good. They follow the established rules and exceed expectations. Yep, definitely want a healthy portion of performers in your bowl. Producers, on the other hand are innovative people who come up with new ideas, and approach things in unique ways, and when given the opportunity can achieve great success (self-made billionaires fall into this category).

Much like preventers tend to get labeled as “sticks in the mud”, producers are frequently seen as difficult to manage, rebels who think that the rules don’t apply to them. And yet, these are often the people who have the breakthrough ideas that create new opportunities for your organization. Many of today’s most successful organizations pair producers and performers to maximize their gain.

Promoters and Preventers. Performers and Producers. No doubt a “flavorful” combination, but the best leaders don’t step up to the plate because they are looking for easy and bland. Want maximum impact for your organization and those you serve? Then what you need is a bowl full of peas.

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