Leadership Type –
Innovative, Entrepreneurial, Visionary
Value Drivers –
Innovative outputs, Transformation, Agility
Theory of Effectiveness –
Constant change to turn creative risk into growth projects
Inventing Products, Markets, Ventures
Illustrative People –
Artists, Visionaries, Entrepreneurs
Pioneers are typically free-thinking, adventurous, spontaneous and highly creative. They are independent-minded, often clever and always original. If a novel solution to a problem is needed, the Pioneer is a good person to ask because they tend to use original approaches in solving difficult problems. They give special attention to key issues and are future-oriented. Pioneers are usually enterprising and prepared to take risks. They tend to have a lot of ideas and distinguish themselves by means of originality. The Pioneer likes to work on the development of strategies for the future. They are often described as individualistic and unorthodox, are typically introverted and self-willed, and are generally sensitive to both appreciation and criticism.
The Pioneer enables change and adaptation, and pays attention to the changing environment. They are typically good at identifying important trends, expressing ideas, anticipating needed change, and tolerating uncertainty and risk. Pioneers rely on facts, ideas and intuitive understanding. They are creative and able to look ahead. Pioneers are usually the ones to propose innovations in an inspiring way, and can convince others that these innovations are necessary and desirable. They are usually someone with a vision and are willing to take risks in achieving this vision. The Pioneer promotes the exchange of ideas concerning new markets, technologies and product-market combinations.
As is the case with other thought-oriented roles such as Analysts, Pioneers prefer to work alone. However, most teams accept this, as the Pioneer’s creative thinking typically leads to novel solutions and ground-breaking concepts. They can facilitate and manage change, as well as adjustment in the organisation. Pioneers translate concrete ideas in the form of projects, but the moment a little less creativity is needed and a less exciting phase starts (e.g. implementation), the pure Pioneer may prefer to withdraw.
Teams need Pioneers and teams need Achievers. But above all, teams need Pioneers who follow through. Indeed, Pioneers are an integral part of any successful team. They are relied on for their big ideas, and their small ones, upon which teams base their most successful projects.
Although Pioneers may not fit into the traditional concept of how a team member should act, they are nevertheless invaluable to a team or organisation. As the name suggests, Pioneers are the team members who bring about growth and progress. They create multidisciplinary or cross functional teams from people that have additional knowledge and skills. With this type of team, they can more easily explore new possibilities. Pioneers put the complete arsenal of brainstorming techniques in use and apply these to explore the borders of available creative capacities.
Pioneers are naturally introverted and prefer to work apart from the team. Nonetheless, they can be highly creative, whether they’re providing the seeds from which major developments spring, or the (sometimes unorthodox) solution to a complex problem. The main contribution of a Pioneer is to act as a prime source of ideas and innovation for the team by generating new proposals and solving complex problems.
A Pioneer is a thinker, a person who is refreshing and creative. To others they are a source of inspiration. Colleagues look to Pioneers for affirmation that they still believe in the vision they put forward and hold the flame, and want to be reminded when they’re frustrated that this is something that has real worth. A Pioneer imparts the ability to truly champion ideas, because the power is literally in the strength of their belief. Pioneers start from a place where they believe their ideas have intrinsic value, and that motivates people to want to work on it with them. Colleagues will abide by some disorganisation because they see that Pioneers believe their ideas have a place in the world.
Pioneers value strategic and goal-oriented Directors, who help keep projects on task. They tend to work best with people who can balance the big idea with a hundred smaller ideas that are actually actionable items. Measured Directors take some of the onus off of the Pioneer to see the project through. Pioneers can sometimes find it hard to prioritise and do a much better job if they are not trying to do 50 things at once.
Pioneers also work well with Brokers, who focus on the creative details to make the Pioneer’s goals come true. The Mentor also helps to evangelise the Pioneer’s ideas amongst the team.
The Pioneer’s pitfall is that they can lose sight of reality when looking for solutions. They have to ensure that this does not lead to disastrous experiments that waste too much energy on things that cannot be accomplished. Pioneers can often be so involved in their own ideas that they are not open to the proposals or ideas of others. Being so much of a solo performer can result in them keeping too much of a distance from the team.
Pioneers have a tendency to disregard established procedures, as well as parameters and constraints. They also tend to ignore incidentals and often refrain from getting bogged down in detail. They can be impractical due to their focus on concepts and can have a hard time communicating ideas to others. This can all lead to them being perceived as being ‘up in the clouds’. Pioneers typically react well to praise, but not to criticism.
How to get the best out of Pioneers
Pioneers thrive on praise and encouragement will optimise their contribution. They typically do not do well in routine tasks and can get bored easily. And if a Pioneer gets bored, it’s very tempting to move on to the next big idea. Pioneers need to be reminded that they can sometimes be seen as radical by other team members. They also need to be encouraged to be less prickly if their ideas are evaluated/rejected by the team. Pioneers need to know it’s not personal!
Because they tend to feel so much ownership over a project, Pioneers need to try to keep their micromanaging tendencies in check. Pioneers tend to see this as a bittersweet process and as they can find it difficult to step back. This internal conflict can lead Pioneers to clash with Brokers, who share the Pioneer’s need for creative control. It’s a typical trait of Pioneers to organise individuals into team roles based on their strengths. This can on occasion result in them clashing with other Pioneers as they generate sometimes conflicting or overlapping ideas.
When the team contains more Pioneers, then the Pioneers run the risk of competing with each other about the best solutions. Pioneers need coached to exercise self-discipline and listen to other team members’ input. They also need to be encouraged not to let the stresses of managing a team stifle their creative input.
Frustration can arise if the Pioneer’s vision becomes lost in translation as the Director and the Anchor drive the project toward fruition. Consistent communication and a well-mapped plan for that vision are key to overall harmony and success.
You’ll find Pioneers in all sorts of careers, but the careers they most favour are listed below.
Comic Book Artist
International Relations Specialist
Memeber of the Performing Arts
Non Profit Sector
Record Store Owner
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Pioneers enable change and adaptation, and pay attention to the changing environment. They spot important trends, express ideas, anticipate change, and manage uncertainty and risk.