Stretch – Don’t Strain – Your Conative Style

Picture 3by Beth Herman

Spring is nigh, and we’re dusting off our free weights, trying out Pilates, buying new running shoes.  Can you feel the promise in the air?

What a great time to talk about learning to understand and flex to your Conative Style.

My what?

Conation (koh NAY shun) relates to desire, volition, and striving.  Conative Style is our natural mental tendency that produces an effort.  It’s your own instinctive mode of action, the way in which you would tackle any new task given no instructions, on your own.

“Everyone has an indomitable will that powers our instincts to act,” says Kathy Kolbe, developer of the Kolbe A Conative Style Index (Conative Connection, Acting on Instincts, Kathy Kolbe)

“No matter what combination of talents we bring into play, we make the biggest impact when we solve problems in ways that are most natural to us.”  And doing jobs that inhibit our natural modes and require least preferred actions?  That produces “conative strain.”

We all know that it takes more effort, more commitment, and perhaps more vitamins to learn a new upper-body weight training regimen than it does to jog the same route you’ve done for years.  By understanding your preferred style of doing, you can capitalize on your strengths and gently broaden your range of motion—without tearing anything or pulling up lame.

How it works

The Kolbe A Index rates the strength of your preference on a scale of 1-10 (10 is high) for each of four Action Modes.  (You might notice some overlap between these descriptions and those of the DIsc Inventory or Ned Herrmann’s Whole Brain Model.  If so, fellow psych nerd, let’s get coffee later.)

  1. Fact Finder:  Precise, judicious, thorough, and appropriate.  Loves detail and complexity and facts.
  2. Follow Thru:  Methodical, systematic.  Focused, structured, ordered, and efficient.  Planning, programming, design, predictability.
  3. Quick Start:  Spontaneous, intuitive, flexible, and fluent with ideas.  Deadline and crisis oriented.  Need challenge and change, can be impatient.
  4. Implementer:  Hands-on, craft-oriented.  Strong sense of 3D form and ability to deal with the concrete.

(My Kolbe scores are Fact Finder 5, Follow Thru 3, Quick Start 8, Implementer 3.  My top Kolbe strengths:  explain, adapt, improvise, imagine.  Note that I have no pull to learn Excel or troubleshoot—OK, break—printers and smartphones.

My Kolbe Career MO+ ™ Report lists these examples of jobs that have brought satisfaction to people with an MO similar to mine:  sales, on-camera TV, comedian, therapist, alternative program educator, copywriter, fundraiser, and interviewer.  Spooky accurate.)

The Kolbe A test costs $49.95 and this author receives no kickback, but I do help clients apply this new knowledge with their teams.

The resulting career report defines why a particular job role may—or may not—work out and even suggests question to ask a prospective new boss.  (The best ones from mine:  “Would I be able to work on several tasks at the same time?  Will someone be able to assist me if my equipment is not working properly?”)

Here’s how to leverage your Conative style to cover more ground with less strain:

  1. Know thyself—and thy team
  2. Maximize the time spent using your preferred modes of action
  3. Bag, barter, or “better” the tasks that most strain and pain you.  And, to help you do that…
  4. Knowingly choose colleagues whose preferences complement rather than mirror your own.

You can make your workplace a safe, open playing field where positions and strengths aren’t a secret, and everyone gets to be a star.

In my next post:

Improve donor visits by understanding different “conversational styles”

Beth B. Herman is principal of EBH Consulting LLC

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