"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry, it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry, it'll change."
-- John A. Simone Jr.
T-shaped people are T-shaped because of the choices they make and the actions they take. These choices and actions are based on who they are and, specifically, on their capacity to engage the world.
So how do we see T-shaped people?
- We estimate that about 30% of working adults are T-shaped*
- The “T” stands for the ability to hold both a single deep and narrow focus (specialization) as well as a broader focus that might include customers, strategy, various cultural perspectives and multiple perspectives within or across organizations.
- A common focus of T-shaped people is to systematically apply “the best” people, practices and perspectives they can find to achieve the aims of a particular project.
- They are often leaders in the drive to create a new market, project, or organization.
- They can be strong negotiators in their mission to provide, include or obtain the necessary human, financial, material and ideological resources to achieve their goals.
- Though they are a valuable part of the team their particular perspective may not have the health of the full value chain in mind. However, the more they can contain an H-shaped perspective the better chance they have of considering the value chain in their thinking and approach.
- T-shaped people are at an important nexus in that they have reached a stage where they are really able to appreciate how mixture of skills, experience and perspectives may contribute to a more powerful project. They often have a sense of responsibility & obligation towards others even while they pursue their own agendas & ideas
- See themselves as indispensable, contributing members of the larger community or society, yet separate & responsible for their own choices
- Conscious of the importance of communication and maintaining information flow from a diversity of sources
- Appreciate mutual or multiple expression of differentiated feelings & ideas
- T-shaped people can also, at times, let the “game” become more important that the “players” or results
- Strong advocates of their point of view-sometimes to the point of endgame
- Feel they are in control of their destiny and may negatively respond to deeper questioning of their beliefs
- They often strongly believe in rationality and objectivity often wanting to examine issues from multiple perspectives
- Proactive, they delegate tasks if and when necessary-trusting, to some degree, that people have the capability to contribute in their own way
- They will often drive others as hard as they drive themselves
- T-shaped people may value being in control vs. being controlled and will seek out value systems that seem fair and consistent
- They will often welcome feedback, especially when it is framed or perceived in a way to help them to achieve their goals and to improve
T-shaped people are, of course, unique. People are unique. The above points are generalizations we have observed along the way as we helped I-shaped people move to “T” and while helping T-shaped people move toward the inclusive, egalitarian perspective of “H”. Staying firmly in the realm of generalization we can also say that the closer a T-shaped person is to their I-shaped action logic, the more dogmatic and less accepting of multiple perspectives they will be. On the other hand, the closer they are to evolving an H-shaped perspective, generally the more inclusive and more multi-perspective taking they will be. In short, “T” is not a way of life it is a stop along a developmental journey. A valuable perspective, a T-shaped worldview also has a limited capacity for perception. Strong team members and leaders, T-shaped people are defined not just by the breadth and depth of their experience but how they are able to relate to it. That is capacity. The evolution of which is our business.
*Based on research done by Susanne Cook-GreuterPosted 29 Apr 08 by Zach Smith