Everything you need to know about a Specialist

The Specialist leader

Specialists are highly precise workers. So how exactly do they lead their teams to victory?

As a leader, Specialists are closely focused on the tactical and technical aspects of the work. They’re respectful of authority, tradition, and established departmental responsibilities. They’re also serious, self-disciplined, and responsible – striving to do what’s expected, do it on time, and ensure that work is error free. However, they can be cautious with delegation. When delegation is needed, follow-up will be curt and meticulous, ensuring that all procedures have been followed and all standards met.

Below is a list of strengths and cautions when a Specialist is in a management role.

Leading strengths
  • Disciplined
  • Problem-solvers
  • Responsible
  • Get the job done right
Leading cautions
  • Struggle with delegation
  • Tough to change
  • Prefer independent work

But it’s not just about knowing how you lead; you also should be aware of the individuals you manage and the Team Type they form. This allows you to tailor your leadership strategies based on the people you’re actually managing—and use your strengths as a Specialist to your advantage.

Let’s say you’re a Specialist who’s managing an Exploring Team. This Team Type is on the quadrant directly opposite yours, which means you’ll generally have competing values. Don’t panic! Different personalities don’t innately lead to failure. Understanding this difference in opinions, however, is a crucial step.

Take a look below at some points of friction to be aware of. Use these to learn how you can use your strengths to lead a team that doesn’t directly align with your Reference Profile.

Leading an Exploring Team as a Specialist

When a Specialist is leading an Exploring Team, they may struggle to adapt to the team’s fast pace and flexible nature. You may encounter areas of friction, but there are ways you can help your people stretch their behavioral drives and make the team feel like magic.



The Exploring Team’s preference for innovation and risk may clash with a Specialist’s “by the book” style. The leader may become frustrated that the team is not following rules and processes enough to protect the company from risk.

A Specialist’s desire to think things through independently can clash with the Exploring Team’s desire to brainstorm out loud. It can be frustrating for team members if they feel they’re not being given the time to work out problems as a group.

A Specialist can often get bogged down in the details, preventing them from making timely decisions. Yet Exploring Teams are expert problem-solvers that can take action quickly. That sense of urgency can help push Specialists, so they can put ideas to action.

An Exploring Team may find themselves generating new ideas or taking risks after risk without thinking about the consequences. Yet Specialists tend to focus on practical ideas and focus on mitigating risk. Specialists can help Exploring Teams take more calculated risks and focus on the innovative ideas that have the most potential.

Based on the benefits and areas of friction that can arise when having a differently aligned team, come up with strategies that will help you lean into your strengths. For example, you could create a process to vet the innovative ideas that your team is so passionate about and determine which will provide the most value without causing too much risk.

So, we understand who we are, where we fit into a team, and how we can lead other teams as a Specialist. When it comes to leading, though, there is much more to consider. You also need to think about what Strategy Type your team needs to accomplish their goals.

Do you feel prepared to make sure your team feels like magic rather than causing constant friction? Want to learn more? Check out our two workshops around building and cultivating teams that work like a dream.

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