What Do You Think: Is Workstyle Profiling a “Thing”?


Over a number of years doing career consulting/coaching with individuals, I’ve seen certain patterns in the way people approach their work – and I’d love to get your input about something I’m calling “workstyles.”

Essentially, I think we’re wired to approach work (and life) with a certain mentality or approach. We have internal patterns that shape the way we go about our roles.

For instance, I am a Sage/Creator/Builder. I need to figure stuff out, forge new paths, create new things. I don’t want to be in a role where I’m just maintaining a pre-built system. I find that kind of work to be quite unrewarding. Operational stuff bores me.

On the other hand, some people will thrive best in an existing system (Performers), while utterly floundering in an unstructured environment. And still others need to be leading up-front. As humans, we have a spectrum of workstyles, based on our internal wiring and DNA.

archetype wheel

I was talking with my friend Mark Whitlock about this last week and I was wrestling with the word to describe it. He suggested “archetype” and that rang the bell for me.

Here are some of the archetypes I’ve come across in my interactions with people, and I’m quite sure this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Designer: Sees the emptiness and/or chaos, and is able to envision a well-ordered solution
  • Builder: Knows how to take a design concept and put all the pieces together to make it happen over time
  • Creator: Compelled to see what isn’t there and make something new (often overlaps into Designer)
  • Guru: Public, charismatic figure who has an important message and a burning desire to move people
  • Sage: Analytical thinker who counterbalances ideas, challenges, opportunities, and people, and wisely finds the best way to navigate forward (high insight)
  • Performer: “Just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it.”
  • Solo performer: Wants to get tasks done without the interference or involvement of others
  • Nurturer/Caregiver: Many nurses, counselors. teachers, etc. may fall into this category – those very tuned in to the needs and feelings of others
  • Cultivator/Team Grower: Skilled at assembling and organizing teams (over time) to accomplish goals (manager-type)

(note: I see workstyle as related to, but different from, personality style, for which there are a number of existing theories)

I had a clarity session recently with a solo consultant who was quite frustrated with his work. He was occupying the role of solo performer; but, in fact, he is wired to be a Builder/Cultivator/Grower. The mismatch he was feeling with his current role had nothing to do with intelligence or competence. It was just that his DNA did not match his current workstyle, so the role was unfulfilling.

I’m convinced that finding our professional “fit” goes beyond a good company and a good job. We need to be fulfilling a role that aligns with our workstyle. Agree?

So, here is how you can help me:

  1. What other workstyle archetypes might you suggest?
  2. Surely I’m not the first person to recognize this pattern. Are there books or other resources that you’re aware of that dive into this concept?

Please add your thoughts in the comments!


Need fresh professional direction? I’ll help you get clarity. And, while you’re thinking about getting clear, go ahead and subscribe to the weekly Clarity Blend e-newsletter here.

Speak Your Mind