Estimate Your Chances in Business Competition
Victor Gulenko, April 25, 1998, Kiev.
Translated by Dmitri Lytov, December 2005.
Translator’s notes are given in italics.
Even possessing enormous capacities of memorization, our brain “prefers” to compress information in order to fit it into the narrow space of our operational attention. The volume of unconscious information is huge, but our consciousness can master it only through consolidation into comparatively small number of rationally convoluted concepts.
Only in course of time and with some galling experience many business people acquire a simple set of criteria that allow evaluating people and situations. Growth of vital experience is inevitably accompanied with more compact convolution of information and mastering of operations of its qualitative processing. In this work I would like to show that typology, as a specific form of classification, helps to significantly accelerate this painful process.
Let us consider the concept of ideal type first developed by the German sociologist Max Weber (1864 – 1920). What is a type? According to him, it is not a mere result of generalization or averaging of a certain group of facts. An ideal type, or “pure” type, is the “interest of epoch” represented as a mental picture. This picture is not extracted from the empiric reality but rather is superposed on it as a regulating (standardizing) scheme.
The type indicates unchangeable traits of personality. Both in the past and in the present, under any social regime, there are temperamental and calm, hearty and thrifty, practical and daydreaming people. By eliminating eventual “noise” and displacements, we obtain the desired concept of type. The synonyms of “type” are: lifestyle, personological profile, social character, social-psychological type (sociotype) etc.
Typology has proved its validity long ago, for example in sociology. Analyzing the state of society, modern Western analysts often use types of social behavior first proposed by W. Thomas and F. Znaniecki from the Chicago School. Their typology included only three types: a philistine traditionalist (guided by habitual stereotypes), an opposite to him bohemian (rejects all values, his behavior is chaotic) and an average between them creative type that flexibly combines traditional values with new trends. In our days other researchers develop this typology further.
Similarly to economy that is based on differentiation of labor, communication is based on cooperation between people of different temperaments and attitudes. In a stable pair of colleagues one is necessarily a leader and the other is driven by the first. This is better than two leaders or two subordinates. In the first case they will fight for power, in the second they will lack initiative, but in the both cases the pair will not function properly.
How can we determine the communicative style (the personological profile) of any person? First of all, through observation of his behavior in various groups and situations.
Social selection functions in evolving societies. Its laws remind natural selection at a higher stage of development. Such issues are the subject of sociobiology – a discipline introduced by the American Edward O. Wilson who in 1975 published his book Sociobiology: A New Synthesis. The collision between genes (natural supply on the biosocial “market”) and the nurturing influence of the society (social demand) forms the personological profile of personality.
What I call “profile” or “type” is determined genetically. It cannot be nurtured. One can develop only a superficial (but hardly separable from the very type) adaptive mask, persona, because society pressures on the human by the heavy weight of traditions, moral norms, state and corporate laws.
Comparing life with a theater, we can say that there are so many characters but only few of them are protagonists. Leading roles are not enough for everyone. People take necessary places in a struggle – physical, intellectual, psychological etc. By their nature, humans strive to the center; this strive in its turn engenders organizational hierarchy. This is what Nietzsche called Will to Power, Bergson – Vital Surge, McDougall – Horme Energy etc.
Where is cooperation then? Anywhere but not in the center. At the central positions (top state positions, elite kinds of intellectual work, large business, pop stars etc.) cooperative behavior manifests only in provisional alliances for struggle against a stronger enemy.
Niccolo Machiavelli was the first who described this Centripetal Law of Communication. In his work The Duke (1513) he described various ways of seizure and retention of power. For his time, Machiavelli has made a significant step forward: instead of dogmatic religious explanations of social behavior he introduced into consideration real human interests.
Later in XX century his compatriot Wilfredo Pareto described centripetal motion of people as circulation (rise and fall) of elites. However, Pareto overestimated the trends peculiar to elites; he did not notice that these trends languish as much as the spectator moves away from the center. At the periphery people not so much compete as cooperate.
Let us analyze two triads of sociotypes, which I consider the most competitive in the present cruel world where the fight for central positions takes place everywhere, from the geopolitical stage down to the level of a mediocre company. Using Pareto’s figurative language, we will compare these groups with Lions and Foxes. They both consist of more specialized communicative profiles, which we will consider below. All the descriptions refer equally to men and women, even when the pronoun “he” is used.
The consolidating factor of this group is the struggle for power and order. In its representatives we recognize similar characters of various epochs of revolutions and counter-revolutions, coups d’etat and systematic armed struggle. This triad cannot consolidate without an enemy image.
He possesses technocratic style of thinking combined with the stable-balanced temperament. He is organized and predictable; his actions organically cannot be spontaneous, without any fixed long-term program.
The Inspector is not much efficient as a private entrepreneur due to his static thinking and inflexible behavior; however, he is optimal as a manager or an official. He is excellent in managing routine chores. Slowly but steadily he moves upwards the social ladder. This type of people forms the backbone of state machinery of any regime.
In movies this character is often represented as a severe and inflexible struggler for justice (Clint Eastwood, Alain Delon, Steven Seagal), which by its appearance reminds a cowboy from the Camel commercials. Women admire men of this type who demonstrate endurance before vital problems.
From the childhood he is prone to intellectualism, can speak eloquently and intelligently. Using his voice intonations and facial expressions, he makes strong emotional impression on other people, from the most favorable to nauseous. This type is very widespread, and therefore the struggle between its separate representatives is especially acute.
Nature has painted this character with black and white paints. It is often represented by extremities (accentuations): demonstrative, hysteroid, pedantic and “sticking”. He is full of controversies with himself.
This type seems to be the main supplier of “over-passionate” people that play significant role in social conflicts that tend to emotional super-tension and even beneficence for the sake of a certain great idea. It is represented by many religious and charismatic leaders (from Trotsky and Hitler to Che Guevara).
This is a decisive person not reluctant to exert volitional, even physical pressure on other people when “situation requires such actions”. He seems to be the best “designed” for force competition. The more obstacles he meets, the more decisive and resolute he feels and the more active he moves forward.
Defense is not his style. He tries to find at once the opponent’s vulnerable point by offensive reconnaissance. When his frontal attack fails, he begins to attack from the flanks or rear, often using third persons for his goals.
People of this type actually represent the image of post-Soviet large business. The endless fight for the center improves their grip, flexibility and calculating mind. Management of large material and people resources is a very important vital stimulus for them (Hillary Clinton, George Patton, Lee Iacocca, Napoleon Bonaparte).
When your collective consists mostly of sociotypes of this triad, it will inevitably full of tension and conflicts. However, these conflicts represent a great advantage: being concentrated in one decisive blow (in case of presence of an external enemy), they result in great achievements.
Such a team, having a strong and resolute leader, is capable of winning all possible competitors. However, the more successes it achieves, the stronger is the bitterness of secession and hostility between former confederates. The only solution of such situation known from the history is to permanently replace potentially dangerous people with their younger type-mates.
The consolidating factor of this triad is the pragmatic profit. The principles of pragmatism and instrumentalism, as we know, are cornerstones of the American national philosophy. Therefore we can also call this triad “the American triad”. Let us meet its representatives.
The person of this type is sociable, sets up his sail to every wind, is very flexible in his actions. He watches distribution of material benefits and knows where his interests lie. He often picks up both important people and attractive ones.
He cannot long focus on certain activity. To avoid boredom, he needs periodical switching from one type of activity to a different.
Capable of balancing between interests of opposite parties, he is a master of negotiations and bargaining. He is a master of boarding and tacking, however, only between big groups of people. To show all his talents, such persons needs large scales (Jacques Chirac, Michael Gorbachev, Lech Walesa, Silvio Berlusconi).
People of this type are cautious, skeptical, thrifty. Before starting a new work, he evaluates its expediency and profitability (not just financial). He is capable of waiting, meanwhile accumulating additional information.
He watches development of events, noticing meanwhile details and even slightest trends. Usually he makes impression of a wise and longsighted person. His irony and critical remarks can chill even the most ardent enthusiast.
Such persons are often good financiers or bankers, know the ropes on the stock or capital market. They are born diplomats, masters of reconciling of interests of opposite parties or creating valid counterweights (Colin Powell).
This is a snappy, dynamic, very easy-going person. Al his life reminds a permanent steeplechase. He bravely proposes business initiatives and tries really hard to implement them.
He loves life, likes humor in all its manifestations. Vital stresses only harden him, make him more decisive and self-confident. He is rather a lonely hero than a team player.
He is a great master of combinations, proposes brave multistage commercial schemes. He is always among those who uses newest technologies and organizational forms. The secret of his business success is not in force but in his precipitance (Bill Gates, John Kennedy, Yuliya Tymoshenko).
The confrontation between the ideologies of organized force and free pragmatism is characteristic for all parts of the world. However, America has already long ago recognized the priority of pragmatism (after the victory of the North states in 1865), while the Orient, having ancient despotic traditions, recognizes the priority of organized force. Only Slavic countries of the former USSR did not make their choice yet. They are tired of one and a half centuries of the tug-of-war between democracy and authoritarianism.
It may sound strange from the standpoint of the post-Soviet mentality, but these two forces can even cooperate. China is a good example of an alliance between the two triads, based on Deng Xiaoping’s principle “one country, two systems”: the Lions (W.Pareto’s term) hold the political power, while the Foxes rule the economic life. The Chinese reformer has realized the idea of coexistence of the opposite poles characteristic for the Dao philosophy of one and a half thousand years.
Such trends exist both globally and locally; a “small China” may be found in a rivaling company that rapidly conquers central positions on the market. However, long-term alliance between the volitional and the pragmatic triads seems impossible to me in the conditions of our Eurasian mentality.
In this way, your business may be much improved when communication will be correctly organized and systematically coordinated. Learn to apply the law of center and periphery on practice – of course, when you are psychologically mature for this approach.
All major events in the world are determined by actions of the above six (three plus three) sociotypes. It was long ago, and it is now. Other communicative styles are peripheral: only for short periods their representatives meddle into the dramatic battle of giants and then retreat again. The “peripheral” stimuli, such as human relations, curiosity, adherence to non-ideological and non-pragmatic values leave no chances for staying in the center for a long time.
When “peripheral” types prevail in your office (department), it will be non-conflicting and comfortable, with a good psychological atmosphere, but not competitive. The idea of composing a team by one half from the central types, and by one half from peripheral ones? Alas, such mechanical approach does not solve the problem. The fifty-fifty combination of central and peripheral values results in uncertainty, bouncing from one pole to a different, and finally to loss of control.
Try this typology on yourself. For each of these 6 central types you can find 8 questions below. Answer them attentively, without hurrying.
Whatever result you may get, remember that it is only a rough estimate. The sociotype can be validly determined only by special interviewing with checking of personal data in course of a subsequent communicative training.
Answer each of the questions with one of the three options: yes, no, don’t know; in the last case ask your friends or peers for clarification, otherwise (when their advice did not help, or when you want to avoid help of other people) this answer is considered as “no”.
1. Does your mood often change?
2. Are you disposed to science and arts?
3. Do you tend to great internal anxiety?
4. Do your thoughts have a form of moving images?
5. Are you anxious about the impression you make on other people?
6. Do you possess increased need for self-expression?
7. Is it really difficult to get along with you in close communication?
8. Do you have specific habits in foods, in your lifestyle etc. that bewilder your peers?
1. Do you take easily long periods of loneliness?
2. Do you regularly make notices to your family members and colleagues?
3. Are you thrifty in your purchases?
4. Are you undemanding concerning your living conditions?
5. Is it easier for you to implement a system than to invent it?
6. Are special tenacity and resistance to force peculiar to you?
7. Do you keep a level head even in the most difficult situations?
8. Do you hate when other people touch your personal things?
1. You reject all abstract theories except those you have “touched with your own hands”?
2. Do your physical and mental forces strongly increase in critical situations?
3. You do not wait for an opponent’s attack but prefer to make a first blow?
4. You are not eloquent orator, you rather prefer to speak with a simple and “strong” language?
5. When you fail, do you immediately change your tactics?
6. Do you definitely achieve better successes in sport events that require force (fight, boxing etc.) than in dynamic ones (tennis, track and field athletics etc.)?
7. Do you agree to manage something only in case of your total control over people and resources?
8. Is it true that romantic feelings never prevailed over you?
1. Are you a good toast master on parties?
2. Do you express a strong kickback when other people try to restrict your activity?
3. You do not hurry to fulfill your promises when it is not necessary?
4. Do you switch to a different goal when you failed to quickly achieve the previous one?
5. Are you a good bargainer?
6. Do you feel what things you need to tell in order to get on the right side of somebody?
7. Do you pay a lot of attention to your corporal needs?
8. Do you manage to maintain good relations with necessary people?
1. Are you a cautious person that avoids risk and noisy actions?
2. Do you think with visual 3D images?
3. Do you periodically feel enervated and sleepy?
4. Are you a kind person, even in spite of becoming explosive and obstinate in critical situations?
5. Are you thrifty, capable of accumulating sources for a black day?
6. Is it true that sometimes you fall into pessimism and grim humor?
7. Are you rather a passionless spectator than an ardent fighter?
8. Are you provident in your trips and travels?
1. Are you a mobile, light on your feet?
2. Do you strive to benefit from any theory, to turn it into a working tool?
3. Do you easily risk, believing rather in your intuition than in your previous experience?
4. Are you talkative and assertive in discussions?
5. Are you not much demanding to your comfort and just need to support your forces?
6. Are you simple and democratic in communication?
7. You are optimistic, quickly forget previous problems?
8. Are jokes and humor a usual way for you to establish contact?
Now compare your answers to all the six series of questions. You belong, or are very close, to the type where you answered “yes” to all the eight questions. All other options are of small probability.
If you failed to match any of these six types, your chances in the struggle for central positions in society are low. If, on the contrary, you found that you could equally play most of these roles, you most likely belong to the Gambler (EIE) type. You can make further conclusions yourself.
And finally, some more remarks concerning methods of determining human types.
Diagnostics of type through application of a certain scheme to human behavior is not efficient. Deviations from this ideal scheme in various situations, as well as external “noises”, too often result in mistakes. Only a very experienced personologist is capable of performing such a fine work.
However, the type manifests very clearly in situations of collision of an individual with the whole diversity of sociotypes, or, at least, with their communicative center. Under collision I mean a quick energetic contact in the conditions of uncoordinated interests under management of an experienced personologist. In this case, types manifest very obviously. When a conflict outbursts, people take off their social masks that serve in common situations as a buffer between their inborn genetic preferences and the requirements of the society.
Reorganizations and loyalty purges are common for corporations, especially after major failures. However, next time you will face this necessity, try to use personology in order to prepare yourself to organization and personnel reforms and to implement them quickly and efficiently.
The list of literature is not included, because the original article referred only to publications in Russian.
One can notice that the traits attributed by Gulenko to “central” types in MBTI literature are often attributed to J or TJ types. However, the criterion of “central” and “peripheral” types has no direct analog in Jungian typology. For example, in the Volitional triad the only common criterion for the Gambler (EIE) and the Inspector (LSI) is their rationality, but the third type, the Commander (SLE), is irrational. The fact is that socionics, unlike MBTI, considers the so-called “group effect”, when combination of some types acquires new properties compared to these types taken separately. For example, the Gambler (EIE), being capable of playing various roles, of awaking other people’s enthusiasm, is at the same time a very nervous personality, prone to doubts and hesitations, quickly getting bored of technical details. On the other hand, the Inspector (LSI) may be very shy in certain situations that require his initiative; he is often not sure about perspectives of undertakings, unpredictable and unusual things make him nervous. However, in combination these two types may represent a strong team, compensate each other’s weak traits. And the Commander (SLE) can be a good leader of such team; and without a team, he is often criticized as an “unstable”, “unprincipled” and “too harsh” person.
Those who already read about the theory of Quadras in socionics will notice that the Volitional triad is an incomplete 2nd Quadra (Beta), and the Pragmatic Triad is an incomplete 3rd Quadra (Gamma). The fourth types of these Quadras, the Lyricist (IEI) and the Guardian (ESI), play the role of conciliators rather than leaders in these Quadras and thus cannot be considered “central”.
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