John, an introvert, and Quinn, an extrovert, were training managers at a regional government agency. The employees in their office needed help with creating viable learning plans. Unfortunately, John and Quinn were overwhelmed with requests for coaching and needed to come up with a solution to serve their all employees.
So they put their heads together and crafted a plan for a career center. Staffed with a part-time employee, interns, computers and books they secured from union seed money , this innovative operation launched just two months later. The program filled a need and was an immediate success. Employee and career satisfaction scores rose and other regional offices ended up copying their model.
John, the introvert, and Quinn, the extrovert, had a strong track record of impactful projects, despite their differing personal styles. John was low key and thoughtful. Quinn shot from the hip and talked enthusiastically to anyone who would listen.
In the past, when they collaborated on projects, it wasn’t always so smooth. Quinn sighed at John’s slow pace and John was overwhelmed by Quinn’s boundless energy. They would get impatient with each other and expect their opposite partner to behave just the way they did.
In the middle of a conflict on one of these ventures they realized that their differing views actually helped them to reach a better solution. Once they got past their differences and learned to focus on their shared desired results, their stress decreased and they were incredibly successful.
In my latest research on “Genius Opposites,” I culled the key lessons and themes of conversations with hundreds of introvert/extrovert teams like John and Quinn. I boiled down their secret sauce into the five key steps that make opposites more efficient and effective. These key elements have been into an easy to remember five-step ABCDE process. It looks like this:
A= Accept the Alien – You can’t change your opposite, but you can try better to understand them. Once you are able to accept this fact, you are in for much less stress.
B= Bring on the Battles – See disagreements as necessary to arriving at better outcomes because you challenge each other to come up with better solutions together than you would alone.
C= Cast the Character – Know each person’s role in a scenario and cast him or her so that you bring out your opposite’s best in that role. Opposites share the credit no matter what role they take.
D=Destroy the Dislike – When you respect each other and act like friends, you can talk openly and have fun.
E= Each Can’t Offer Everything – Know that each one of you is incapable of offering everything and that for true diversity you must work in concert to provide the widest range of options to others.
Take the Genius of Opposite quiz and you will learn what you have in common with your opposite, what areas need work and what behaviors can be built upon. Encourage your opposite to take the quiz too and discuss the results. Use it as a maintenance manual for your partnership. Revisit it over time to continue to nurture your relationship.
By following the process, you can awaken your own shared genius and like Quinn and John, create results you never could have alone.