Growth May Include Psychological Bloodshed

March 27, 2019

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Growth May Include Psychological Bloodshed

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This series of “Lessons from Al” is dedicated to the life and legacy of one of the most influential mentors in my life, career, and management, Al Berg.


Growth can be painful, but looking back, it was worth it…every time.

Some of the best lessons I learned from and through Al included psychological bloodshed.

It was in those moments that he would raise the expectation, challenge me to do more, and sometimes brow beat me into submission. But then, like a drill sergeant, he would carefully rebuild a little of my foundation and challenge me to finish the job and finish it correctly.

Al knew me.

He knew intuitively that I, as a D-wired person, needed challenge. Challenge energized me and gave me incentive to grow. But he also knew that I needed – and could take – strong and frequent correction. His approach was exactly what was needed to polish some of my D-wired edges.

Now I can pretty well guarantee that Al would not take this same approach with a more sensitive team member. He was smart enough to know that this type of leadership, applied to everyone with equal intensity, could be a dangerous tool.

The key is, he used it strategically.

A good leader will learn the strengths of his team and will also learn how to motivate each individual in a way that is customized for their growth.

For me, psychological bloodshed was exactly the right approach.

How can you customize your approach according to your team members’ styles?

The Maxwell Method of Communication Impact Report goes into depth on each style and their respective motivators, but here are some high-level thoughts to keep in mind.


D-wired individuals thrive on facing – and overcoming – a challenge.

Now the downside to that is that they can ride roughshod over everyone and leave a trail of destruction in their wake. Or miss critical details.

Al taught me to face the challenge and…finish well.

If you have a team member who is challenging you, it could very well be they are giving you a clue as to their best motivation. They may need a challenge – and then guidance as to how to effectively navigate that challenge.

Your job as leader of a D-wired individual is to polish the rough edges.

Give them the space to run swiftly; but also give them training and guidance to run well.


I-wired individuals thrive on anything social, fun, and creative.

The downside for them may be having to conform to work that is, in their estimation, “none of the above.”

As a leader, you can motivate and energize these individuals by helping them do work that fits them well. This would include work that is people-centered – customer service, marketing, and sales, for example. This could also include corporate communications, where those with graphic design and creative writing skills can shine.

Your job as a leader of an I-wired individual is to refine the edges.

Give them work they enjoy, but also teach them the importance of boundaries, self-discipline, and meeting commitments.


S-wired individuals are great team players. They are the quiet but powerful force in an organization that keeps the work flowing smoothly.

The downside for them can be too many details. While it is their area of expertise, it can also be their greatest challenge.

As a leader, you can best help these team members by providing milestones and deadlines. Give them time to plan and attend to details but help to pull them forward so they do not get mired in those details. Be available for questions. And help them stay connected with the work and the team.

Your job as a leader of an S-wired individual is to define the edges.

They will do their best not to let you down. You simply need to guide them toward the goal.


C-wired individuals are similar to D-wired individuals in that they are task-focused. The difference – and this is a critical difference – is that they need time to think and plan first. Before you see progress, there will be thought.

The downside for them can be too much thought – analysis paralysis and research overload. While it is critically important (and highly advantageous) for you to give them space and time to think; it is equally important that you agree ahead of time how long that runway will be.

Your job as a leader of a C-wired individual is to round off the edges.

Where they think in individual boxes, help them develop softened edges so they can move forward and work collaboratively with the rest of the team.

In any given situation, there may be psychological bloodshed. Refining strengths-based habits is a lot of work for both the individual and the leader. But it is foundational to growth.

We will end as we began…

“Growth can be painful, but looking back, it was worth it…every time.”

As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.