What Integrators Aren’t Telling You

The thinking profile that risks “losing their own voice,” has plenty to say. They may just have a hard time saying it to you.

I often find myself in a group, criticized for not speaking up,” said Jennifer. “But if the group is on track if I like their ideas, and if I’m confident that things are moving in the right direction, I don’t see any reason to insert my own voice.”

Jennifer is an “Integrator,” one of the 15 FourSight Thinking Profiles. Her graph shows four nearly equal thinking preferences. Nearly 18% of the people in the FourSight database have an Integrator profile. It’s the second most popular profile, behind Implementer (23%).

Integrators bring unique gifts to a group. According to FourSight research, they tend to support group harmony. They make sure all voices are heard. They encourage consensus and avoid conflict. They work to keep groups moving steadily through the problem-solving process, so they don’t bog down in areas of high preference or breeze past areas of low preference. Like all 15 FourSight Thinking Profiles, the Integrator profile has its own watch out: In an effort to accommodate the team, Integrators can neglect to make their own voices heard.

“I see my silence as a vote of confidence for the group,” Jennifer, an L&D professional, insisted. “But the feedback I’ve gotten is that some group members feel that I am indifferent or checked out. I’ve had to learn to speak up, to let people know that I like their ideas or think things are on track. I’m still working on that.”

Jennifer was among six participants in this week’s FourSight certification with an Integrator profile. So, we took a moment to ask, what would you say if you did speak up? Jennifer opened up first. Then, others chimed in.

Marco said his Integrator profile shows up in team settings. “I’m always trying to make sure everyone is on board, that everything is moving forward, that everyone else is heard,” he said. “I realize my own voice can get lost in that process.” In his earlier career as executive director of a theater company, he worked with a lot of big personalities. He saw his role as to keep things together and keep groups cohesive. “It was always hardest for me when I felt like other people weren’t being team players,” he said. “I was trying to be the ultimate team player—to a fault. I could see where things were going off track, where we should speed up or slow down, but I couldn’t always get others to follow. I tend to avoid conflict.” Naturally, he didn’t insist that they did it his way. That’s not in the Integrator’s play book.

Shah offered another perspective. “My experience was going into business with somebody who wanted to get right to implementing,” he said. “My business partner was ready to skip the stages of clarifying, ideating and especially developing, which he felt were too slow. I wanted to be sure we built a quality product for users; he wanted to get the product to market fast. I see now that he had a strong preference to implement. He didn’t see the value of the other stages of the process.”

Integrators often report they try to give equal effort to all four stages of the universal problem-solving process. Integrators' energy remains steady as they:

  1. Clarify the challenge
  2. Ideate on possibilities
  3. Develop solutions, and
  4. Implement them.

It's hard for them to watch others twist and warp the problem-solving process to suit their own strong preferences.

FourSight gives Integrators (and everyone else) a conflict-free solution. When you speak in terms of FourSight thinking preference, you can express what’s happening without accusation or blame. If your business partner is pushing too hard to go to market, you don’t have to suggest he wants to cheat the client, you can talk about how his strong preference to implement may result in a low-quality product.

FourSight provides a common language to help people recognize, diagnose, and resolve conflicts. It helps bring diverse thinkers into alignment. Instead of ignoring, resisting or simply tolerating differences, FourSight helps people appreciate differences—and leverage them.

Katy realized these insights apply both at work and home. “I’m an Integrator,” she said. “After this conversation, I realize my partner is an Implementer. I’m always saying, ‘Wait! Shouldn’t we get more information?’ ‘Wait! Are you sure that’s the best idea?’ ‘Wait! Don’t we need a plan?’ Now I realize I’m looking at all four stages of the process to make sure we’ve got them covered, while he’s rushing to implement because that’s where he feels most energized. I think this insight will help our relationship.”

If your FourSight Thinking Profile is Integrator, take heart. You have a lot of valuable input to share. Give your own voice equal airtime.

If you work with an Integrator, take a moment to unplug from your own thinking preference and ask their opinion. Their answers may help you create better teams and better outcomes.

Sarah Thurber

Sarah is managing partner at FourSight and the author of The Secret of the Highly Creative Thinker, Creativity Unbound, and Facilitation: A Door to Creative Leadership. Her work helps teams and leaders think creatively, work collaboratively and achieve innovative results.