Teamwork and Psychology: Insights from 30+ Years of Business Coaching

What does it take for 800 people to work together on a project with a minimum of friction? Back in 1983, that’s exactly what my partner Lynda-Ross and I were aiming to figure out.When I fist met Lynda-Ross, she was managing a very large multi-year systems development project for a major corporation and she was searching for tools to help the people working on the project stay motivated, reduce conflict, and perform to the best of their capability.Through my years of college and graduate school, I had been fascinated by theories about psychological styles—such as those posited by Carl Jung—but none of the theories I studied fit my personal experience. Beginning with my doctoral dissertation and continuing through 18 years in private practice, I had worked to create a practical, useable psychological styles theory that integrated internal experience with observable behavior.

Lynda-Ross brought me in as a consultant to the project to help the management staff learn tools and techniques to improve teamwork and optimize the talents of the existing staff, and the more we observed and worked with people, the more we discovered.

One of the things we learned was that not only do people who perceive the world similarly get along better, they had many of the same skills and abilities. As we thought about it, it made sense to us that people who perceived things similarly would possess similar skills. It was the next logical step to realize that the skill and ability similarities we observed were based on a similar style of perception, and that each of the six Perceptual Styles had an innate set of natural capacities.

Together we developed processes and training that used the Perceptual Styles Theory to help build teams, diffuse unnecessary conflict, and help people to understand that seeing things differently is not wrong, just different.

More than thirty years later, the same things we observed on that first project have held true, and they remain the basis of our work as coaches. Why? Because what it took for that huge team to succeed is what it takes for any team to succeed.

1. It takes people with different Perceptual Styles filling different positions on the team. After all, skills and abilities are directly tied to the ways that we perceive the world as individuals. The person who excels at accounting is generally not the same type of person who thrives in customer service.
2. It takes all of those people learning how to communicate effectively with one another, despite the differences in their Perceptual Styles. Simple adjustments in language and message delivery can eliminate 90 percent of all communication conflicts.
3. It takes all of those people feeling motivated, even though the differences in their Perceptual Styles means that different things will motivate different people. A range of incentives are required for optimum momentum on a project.
4. It takes leadership based on the team leader’s actual skills and abilities. There are many different ways to lead. The only right way for any given person is the one that fits their innate Perceptual Style.

At every level of development, psychological styles are a huge factor in the success or failure of a business—because no matter what it is or what it does, people are what make your business tick.

Gary Jordan, Ph.D., has over 27 years of experience in clinical psychology, behavioral assessment, individual development, and coaching. He earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology – Berkeley. He is co-creator of Perceptual Style Theory, a revolutionary psychological assessment system that teaches people how to unleash their deepest potentials for success. He’s a partner at Vega Behavioral Consulting, Ltd., a consulting firm that specializes in helping people discover their true skills and talents. For free information on how to succeed as an entrepreneur or coach, create a thriving business and build your bottom line doing more of what you love, visit

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