Why Innovation Depends as Much on Personality as Skill

Have you ever wondered why a good or even great idea did not pan out? Perhaps, this week’s blog “Why Innovation Depends As Much On Personality As Skill” written by Merrick Rosenberg can shed some light on this for you. According to Rosenberg, innovation depends as much on the DISC styles comprising your team as the quality of your ideas. Rosenberg teaches DISC conceptually with corresponding popular bird archetypes. Are you an Eagle, an Owl, a Dove or Parrot? According to Rosenberg, using this knowledge and making simple adjustments, may be just the spark you are missing in developing and disseminating innovative ideas. Read on to discover how this strategy might work for you!

Why Innovation Depends as Much on Personality as Skill

by Merrick Rosenberg

Everything we invent begins as an idea. Over time, ideas take form and manifest into reality. But ideas can only advance as quickly as people advance them.

In highly innovative organizations, leaders save good ideas from needless deaths. Leaders put people in the right positions and recognize that, in addition to skills, personality plays a critical role in success. Perceptive leaders tap into each team member’s personality to propel innovation forward.

When a group of people collaborates well, they accelerate collectively. Consider that the world record for the 400-meter dash is 43.18 seconds. For an individual, that is lightning fast. However, the world record for the 400-meter relay is 37.04. That’s more than six seconds faster in a world where winners are measured in hundredths or thousandths of a second.

Amidst continuous cycles of innovation and disruption, leaders can no longer rely on single individuals to reach the finish line ahead of the competition. Instead, they need teams in which individuals play to their natural strengths.

The Four Roles of Innovation.

There are four DISC styles, and they each play a specific role in innovation. I have linked them to four birds to make them easy to remember.

First up are the Eagles. They are direct and results-oriented. In the innovation process, they create big-picture, revolutionary ideas that shift paradigms. After the Eagles generate new ideas, logical and detail-oriented Owls dissect them. They examine ideas from every perspective to make sure they will work. Next, the soft-spoken and methodical Doves establish a plan to bring the ideas into existence. They consider roles and responsibilities, timelines, budgets and more. Finally, ideas need energy and momentum. That’s where the Parrots come in. These individuals are enthusiastic and generate buy-in so that great ideas don’t fail for lack of support.

There are three ways leaders can tap into the four personality styles to fuel innovation:

  • Enable team members to utilize their gifts – If Parrots are tasked with organizing the project plan, they may overlook the finer details. Likewise, if Owls are responsible for generating excitement, they may offer clear logic for the new idea, but neglect to inspire enthusiasm.
  • Ensure that each person is playing the right role at the right time – While Eagles are generating radically new ideas, they need the freedom to explore all possibilities. If Owls cut the ideas down before they are fully formed, the group won’t innovate.
  • Create smooth hand-offs at each phase of the innovation process – Just as runners must smoothly pass the baton to the next runner, each person needs to smoothly advance the project to the next person in line. Owls should evaluate Eagle’s ideas only after they are ready to be considered. Doves can only create plans once all of the ideas are carefully analyzed. And Parrots need to promote the ideas when they are ready to be shared.

When forming teams, most leaders assign roles based on skill-set and fail to consider personality style. The drama of clashing personality styles can inhibit innovation – even more so than lack of skill.

As a leader, do you include an Eagle in your initial brainstorming process? If not, the Owls may spend their time refining the status quo. Do you include a Parrot in the discussion of how you are going to communicate the new ideas to the organization? If not, the ideas may be communicated in a factual, but uninspiring way. Do you ensure that Owls are present when the ideas need to be vetted? If not, you may move forward without considering the downstream implications. Finally, imagine creating new ideas, thinking them through and generating excitement, but failing to create a solid plan. Doves are equally essential to innovation.

Successful leaders understand that great ideas don’t just work because they’re great. By tapping into the power of personality, leaders can fluidly move ideas through each stage of the innovation process and bring ideas to life.


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Merrick Rosenberg is a keynote speaker, entrepreneur and thought leader on personality styles. He co-founded Team Builders Plus in 1991, and Take Flight Learning in 2012. Merrick is the author The Chameleon and co-author of Taking Flight!.

Under Merrick’s leadership, his company has been selected as the NJ Business of the Year and named one of the Fastest Growing Companies and Best Places to Work in the Philadelphia region. Merrick received his MBA from Drexel University who recognized him as the Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year. Merrick has worked with more than half of the Fortune 100 companies in the US and around the world.

Merrick has led DISC training programs for more than 30,000 people and spoken to tens of thousands more on how to incorporate the personality styles in their work and lives. The DISC training program that Merrick designed, Taking Flight with DISC, was recognized as the Best Personality Styles Training Program in the United States by Corporate Vision Magazine.

Publications regularly seek Merrick’s input, as he has been interviewed by: New York Times, Fast Company, Fortune, Huffington Post, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, InformationWeek, Parents and Glamour. Merrick is also a sought-after guest on radio and television shows.


See Merrick Rosenberg’s speech, “What If Everything You Know About DISC Training Is Wrong?” this month!

Get your tickets now!January 17-19 ✩ Marriott Liberty Station, San Diego CA.

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