In December 2011 Forbes Magazine published the results of their recent study in Europe taking a look at  personalities of innovative entrepreneurs in business. After surveying over 1200 European executives, the magazine distilled the results into 5 personality types of innovators.

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Caveat emptor, the Forbes’ study consisted specifically of European executives and so may not account for cultural differences that may impact innovation within a company setting in a different region of the world. That being said, it gives a valuable look at the balance and distinct personalities needed to make innovation work.

Though profiles of leading entrepreneurs, notable social innovators (i.e. lists such as Forbes’ Impact 30 list identifying top social innovators) and rockstar founders often profile a single lead individual, the Forbes Insight study suggests that it is actually the push and pull, yin and yang, and creative process of multiple different personalities that lead to institutional innovation.

Below are the personality types Forbes identified. Do you identify with one or think there may be an unaccounted for category?

Forbes Identifies 5 Types of Innovators

  • Movers & Shakers— bold and sometimes brash, these innovators were described by Forbes as the visionaries with a noted ability to influence others. Along with their showmen qualities seem to be just enough impatience arrogance to boot. Executives identified in this category make up 22% of those surveyed.
  • Hangers-On— attention to process and comfort in structure seem to be describers of this category. Forbes describes a concentration of this type of innovator in roles such as CFO/Treasurer. Executives identified as this type make up  23% of the total surveyed.
  • Experimenters— Perseverance and perfectionism mark this curious innovator. This category is described as less concerned with failure but more concerned with pushing through a new idea or initiative. Coming in at 16% of all executives surveyed, this type seems to be consistent with many of our traditional notion of entrepreneurial innovators.
  • Controllers— with characteristics that seem compatible with Hangers-On, Controller innovators are described as markedly risk-averse, and tending find their forte in managing the vision rather than creating it. Innovators of this type made up 15% of all surveyed.
  • Star Pupils— this category is the undeniable talent. Essential to start-ups and full-blown enterprises these individuals are likely sought-out for their superstar skills and A+ report cards. And judging by the fact that they make up the largest slice, they may be rewarded grandly for the skills they bring to the table. Star Pupils made up  24% of innovator executives surveyed.

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