Tue | Aug 4, 2020

Trevor E. S. Smith | Four mindsets that drive success - Which one is blocking your progress?

Published:Sunday | November 3, 2019 | 12:00 AM


Doris saw the opportunity and identified a solution. She cleared hurdles to develop a working version. However, thoughts about enhancements and variations distracted her from securing a strong foothold in the market. She did not pay sufficient attention to selling her solution.

Iris made an irresistible presentation of her concept. There was a lot of enthusiasm for her idea and interest in buying in. However, the project stalled because Iris overlooked some important details.

Stuart knew from his experience that there was a better way. He had actually mapped out a step-by-step plan. However, Stuart was concerned that he might be missing something, and in any event, he was not sure that he should challenge the status quo. He kept the idea to himself, to the detriment of the organisation.

Charles saw a problem and decided to undertake a thorough analysis and to document the frequency of its occurrence and its impact. On the completion of his investigation, Charles compiled a full report and submitted it. However, the report sat on a desk and the problem persisted.

None of the four scenarios produced desired results. There are lessons for us as individuals and as team members. Charting a path to success requires a mix of mindsets.

Different circumstances demand a shift in approach to get best results. Our favoured behavioural style might not be a good fit and we need to modify it to succeed. Let’s see how a blend of the four mindsets displayed by Doris, Iris, Stuart and Charles could be used to achieve outstanding results.


Teams that are able to consistently deliver outstanding results pull from four core mindsets or toolkits – taking care to select the most appropriate option from the large variety of tools that are in each toolkit.

DORIS (D-Style Toolkit preference)

Doris could have benefited from pragmatic advice from Charles to investigate response to the initial product first and to postpone further development at this time.

Doris could look to Iris to help with the messaging to increase market share. Stuart’s intuition would also add value in terms of addressing customer needs.

IRIS (I-Style Toolkit preference)

Iris could have been so richly served by having Charles and Stuart on her team or the mindset that they bring to the table. They would have sought to add the missing details. A Doris-like mindset would provide the drive to move the stalled process forward.

STUART (S-style Toolkit preference)

Stuart does not want to rock the boat, be embarrassed or appear to be overstepping his bounds.

Stuart has options. He would have noticed Iris’ gift of communicating ideas and getting buy-in. Iris could be tasked with communicating his plan.

Stuart could call on Charles-like analytical thinking to verify his plan. Also, given the freedom with which Charles documents and presents information on weaknesses in the system, he also could be the frontman on this.

Stuart could have tapped into Doris’ constantly challenging the status quo to champion the initiative.

Stuart is not keen on the limelight so, true to his commitment to the value of teamwork, he could invite the other parties to move the project forward together. (This is the typical consensus seeking approach that individuals with S-style preferences use to achieve success.)

CHARLES (C-Style Toolkit preference)

Charles considers sending follow-up communication or escalating the issue. However, he has done his part, and this is not even his responsibility.

Alternatively, Charles could have called upon some of Stuart’s amazing reserve of patience and understanding. That is what fuels Stuart’s persistence. Charles would then remind himself that this is about the common good and decide to persist, calmly and diplomatically.

Charles would convene a meeting with his colleagues and assign roles based on their styles. The desire for change that flows from Doris ‘Iris’ mindsets would ensure that their collective efforts produce the desired results.


We need to condition our minds to appreciate the value of accessing the right tools every time. Bringing the right mindset to each situation requires discipline and consistency. We should focus attention on becoming comfortable with behaviours that require more energy for us to display. Conscious, structured practice and coaching helps.


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- Trevor E. S. Smith of the Success with People Academy. We guide the development of high-performance teams. We are interpersonal relations, group dynamics and performance-enhancement specialists. We provide learning and productivity-enhancement technology solutions. We offer behavioural assessments from Extended DISC on the revolutionary FinxS Platform and e-Competency Frameworks in our SPIKE solution. Email: info@successwithpeople.org.