Far Elysian: High Tech / Low EQ

Use techniques taught in the TypeCoach Influence Program to Strategize

The Assignment: Develop Influencing Strategies

The scenario below is designed to test your personality profiling and influencing skills. Please use the techniques taught in the TypeCoach Influence Program to form a personality profile for each of the fictional characters described below along with appropriate influencing strategies to address the Far Elysian situation.

Background

You’re a Principal with Infinite Signal Partners (ISP), one of the leading venture capital firms in artificial intelligence and select other high-tech categories. Your Managing Director, Tomas, has asked you to investigate recent employee survey data from one of ISP’s most promising portfolio companies, Far Elysian. While the technology at the heart of Far Elysian has everyone at ISP excited, the company is at an inflection point in its growth and there are several red flags emerging. ISP has previously led a $27M Series B investment into Far Elysian and the company is in the process of doubling its employee base as it expands both the marketing function as well as the product team.

Survey Data

Tomas shared Far Elysian’s employee survey data and asked for a review of the company’s culture and leadership to see if those played a role in the results. While portfolio company leadership always get a lot of scrutiny at ISP, Tomas is usually more interested in the culture of an organization than the other Managing Directors. A quick glance at the survey results however and you began to understand why Tomas wanted you to look closer:

  • Anonymous survey respondents: 142
    • All ratings are aggregated with a total possible score of 100
  • Overall satisfaction? 63/100
  • Does management clearly convey the strategic vision of the business? 33/100
  • How well do people collaborate? 21/100
  • Do you envision being at this company in 3 years? 51/100
  • Are you energized and inspired to do your best work most days? 22/100
  • Is the product you are building what the market wants and needs? 86/100
  • Are you encouraged to share your ideas and suggestions? 15/100
  • In a few words, describe the senior leadership team:
    • “Head in the sand”
    • “Disconnected”
    • “Reactive, scattered, chaotic”
    • “MIA”
    • “Off in their bunker doing their thing”
    • “Never spoke with them”
    • “Scrappy but not looking 36 months out”
    • “Who?”

To navigate this situation, you will need to create a personality profile for the three principals involved.

Adriana Brunner, Far Elysian’s CEO and Co-Founder

Adriana Brunner, Far Elysian

The company is where it is today primarily based on Brunner’s product vision. She has anticipated major trends and is hailed as an industry leader ahead of her time. A hands-off leader, Brunner is known to take lengthy breaks from day-to-day operations, usually returning with a new breakthrough idea. Demanding, intense, unconventional, and driven, she will often take the opposite side of an argument and play devil’s advocate. While Brunner is usually ahead of the curve, she tends to react poorly when the team falls behind deadline or when unexpected changes are encountered. She’s also notorious for setting unrealistic timelines, often leaving people with the sense that the project should not be that big a deal. Brunner also tends to focus on product with very low appetite for dealing with anyone but her core team. And, to the extent that the product has been what the market has wanted so far has been a happy accident – not part of an intentional business plan or road map. The team is now concerned that some of the projects she’s pushing are “fringe” features that will only be relevant to a fraction of Far Elysian’s current users.

Guess Adriana Brunner's Personality Type

See if you can use the personality characteristics described in the above section to build a personality profile for the fictional character, Adriana Brunner, Far Elysian’s CEO and Co-Founder.

1 / 4

Adriana Brunner - Extravert (E) or Introvert (I)?

Identify Extravert Introvert

2 / 4

Adriana Brunner - Sensor (S) or Intuitive(N)?

Sensor or Intuitive

3 / 4

Adriana Brunner - Thinker (T) or Feeler (F)?

Thinker or Feeler?

4 / 4

Adriana Brunner - Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)?

Identify Judger Perceiver

David Haas, Far Elysian’s COO and Co-Founder

David Haas, Far Elysian

The yin to Brunner’s yang, Haas is the grounded, practical, realistic counterbalance to her long-term vision. A behind the scenes operator who is unflappable in a crisis, Haas brings a calm yet playful style that puts everyone at ease. More comfortable in the lunchroom than the board room, he gets antsy when there is a lot of talk without a lot of action. One of his signature traits is to let a whole room work through a plan of action before suggesting something twice as effective and 1/10th as complicated. When he and Brunner disagree, they can clash with real sparks flying – and then continue working as if nothing happened (often leaving collateral damage around them). As Far Elysian has grown, he has continued to bring a “keep it simple, stupid” approach that has prevented overcomplicated organizational structures, bloated approval processes, and too much bureaucracy. However, he has also started to show signs of stress and has recently stepped further out of the spotlight to focus on projects that feel closer to the action. It’s likely the operations side of things has become more of a chore for him than it was when the company was smaller, and every challenge was new and different.

Tomas Wolfe, Managing Director of Infinite Signal Partners

Tomas Wolfe, ISP

Tomas Wolfe, is the Managing Director of Infinite Signal Partners and is also your boss. Over the last 3 years working with Tomas, you’ve learned very little of his personal life. At work, he is extremely dedicated, diligent, organized, and detail oriented. Polite, patient and thoughtful, he does not move rashly or reach conclusions quickly – certainly not without a spreadsheet. One analyst has noted that Tomas works very much like the Swiss watches he is fond of wearing. What has surprised you most is that as you have built trust with Tomas, he has shown himself to be warm, caring, and empathetic – he seems tuned into many of the subtle interpersonal elements involved both within the leadership of the firm as well as at the portfolio company level.  

Far Elysian Employees

As with many AI firms and those in the high-tech space, a significant percentage of the Far Elysian staff have advanced degrees in computer science or engineering. A fair number of recent hires are in the firm’s research division, which has brought in expertise from a number of the life sciences (an arena where Far Elysian sees major room for AI advancement). Staff describes the culture as “cordial, but dry” – people do their work but don’t tend to socialize much. Business calls and meetings get into the issues at hand, discuss/resolve, and then move on. It is quite common for people to find out that someone else within the company was simultaneously doing the same or similar work as another person. There are no informal channels for sharing project work, status. etc. and generally people are content to work on their own thing in silos. Recently, the firm has lost some high-profile talent to larger, more established players. Research suggests that Far Elysian compensation remains competitive and that the departures were the result of conflicts with managers/colleagues.

One staffer was quoted in their exit interview as saying “There’s nothing remarkable about this place. It’s not bad, it’s not great. But, I am leaving because it is a wasteland when it comes to basic emotional intelligence.”

As the survey data shows, there is a widespread lack of clarity among staff about the direction the company is heading in, how to get there, and what each staff member’s role in getting there is supposed to be.

About TypeCoach

TypeCoach is the first platform to combine live training and online tools that provide interpersonal communication advice based on personality differences. Participants in our workshops learn to identify the personality type of others based on observable clues – and then how to adapt and influence accordingly. We work with the world’s leading organizations in all industries.

We are looking for client opportunities like the Far Elysian scenario above – where we can train and support all staff over a 3-year learning window to implement our solutions with full ROI measurement.

To learn more, please contact Rob Toomey – rob@typecoach.com.

Influencing Tactics for Adriana Brunner

Adriana Brunner, Far Elysian
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Rob Toomey

Rob Toomey

President and Co-Founder of TypeCoach

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