What’s better than working closely with someone who operates the way you operate?
In many cases, it’s forming a partnership with someone who solves problems in an entirely different way! The key is understanding, respecting, and leaning into those differences.
That’s what James Robert Lay, CEO of the Digital Growth Institute, did when he brought on Audrey Cannata as his Operations Lead. And it has paid off big time.
James Robert is an innovator by nature. He brainstorms ideas and improvises solutions with ease, which has served him well as an entrepreneur. But he is not one to naturally create systems, and he needed someone to help ensure his best ideas would come to fruition.
So, he reached out to Audrey, who had worked with Digital Growth Institute right out of college. Audrey had been teaching for seven years, but was struggling with how draining the job had become, in large part because she regularly was not given the chance to use her natural strength for organizing and because she had to work against her strengths when it came to dealing with uncertainty.
As for James Robert?
“I was growing as well in 2017,” he mentioned to Kolbe’s Eric Herrera on the Powered by Instinct podcast. “I had joined Strategic Coach and went through the Kolbe method there and quickly realized that, as a 3-2-9-4, what gave me a tremendous amount of energy and what would just drain me on a day in and day out basis.”
When it came to organizing, he needed to adapt, not create systems. He could do that kind of work, but he was better served concentrating on his Quick Start strengths.
It just so happens that when James Robert helped Audrey get her Kolbe result, she came back as a 6-7-3-4. In other words, their strengths were VERY different. Audrey naturally solved problems in the way James Robert did not, which was exactly what the Digital Growth Institute needed.
“It’s amazing once you find that right person, that complement, how much easier everything is and how much more productive you can be,” Eric pointed out to a nodding James Robert.
James Robert would come up with lots of ideas, and Audrey would naturally help him bring the best ones to life with systems and details. What a perfect match!
Except…it’s not always easy working closely with someone who operates differently. Which is why their familiarity with each other’s strengths has been key.
“I would say it’s a matter of awareness of who I am and who she is,” James Robert explained. “It has created a tremendous amount of respect for one another. I’m not saying that I don’t annoy her and she doesn’t annoy me, but it’s understanding where that annoyance is coming from is typically not a difference of thinking or motivation, but just a different of the way that we’re naturally operating.”
James Robert is quickly aware when he needs to provide Audrey with more clarity or give her some more space to build something out. And Audrey understands when James Robert is naturally brainstorming and that not all of those ideas have to be brought to fruition.
“When I first started with James Robert,” Audrey added, “I felt the need to mirror his strengths. I thought I needed to be just like him. Then I got my Kolbe back and I realized, no, no, you’re doing exactly what you need to be doing.”
She could finally concentrate on what she does best, naturally. And once she did that, she was able to be less stressed and more productive while allowing James Robert to focus on also doing more, more naturally.
“It allows us to be just really radically honest and transparent with each other,” Audrey added.
James Robert agreed. “At the foundation of every positive relationship is respect and understanding.”