The people in your investment team can drive you seriously nuts. Like the person in the next desk with his analysis-paralysis. Or that other guy with all the emotions. Or that gal who pulls the trigger before aiming. This stuff is a problem, right?

Maybe not. Maybe these are the disguised ingredients for your secret sauce. Maybe what you have is actually the makings of a high-functioning team. Maybe the things that drive you (and them) nuts are signs of deep potential.

You begin to actualise that potential when you take the simple step of recognising what you already see: that each member of your team is wired differently. Each one has differing inclinations and preferences, differing histories and injuries, differing needs and concerns.


Any interaction that’s based on the flawed assumption that the other person sees the world the way you do is going to be fraught with misunderstanding, confusion and frustration. When you treat these different people differently (but equally), you transform a liability into an asset. All the energy and time that is needlessly consumed by noise and friction becomes available to you and your team for constructive engagement and action.

But, let’s face it, most folks who have highly developed hard-skills (fund managers and analysts like you) tend to find the arena of soft-skills to be too hand-wavy, too touchy-feely, too messy. 

Well, it is messy, that’s the nature of the territory. But what makes it worthy of your attention is that it matters, it has an impact on the results that you and your team can achieve. And possibly the best part is that your competitors are likely to avoid it because they too find it unattractive. This gifts you the opportunity to gain a competitive advantage. That is, if you have the courage to walk into this particular arena.


These differences between people can give rise to significant interpersonal complexity. It can all be quite overwhelming, especially if it’s not your natural game. That’s why I developed my proprietary Mode of Functioning Model (MFM): to help my clients in the asset-management industry navigate this complexity. 

Where MFM differs from standard-issue personality-typing instruments is that it is built around the central insight that different people show up differently in different domains, and they show up differently under different conditions. MFM takes account of a lot of difference because, frankly, all this difference makes a difference to what you and your team can achieve.

Like any model, MFM seeks to simplify a complex situation, and it does so by classifying the inclinations and behaviours of investment professionals into three distinct modes, or three different ways that individuals habitually show up in the world. While no single mode is superior to the others, each mode is superior for a particular domain, which could be a specific interpersonal situation (people-domain) or a section of the typical investment process (market-domain).  

Each mode contains two opposing aspects, one that’s constructive and the other destructive. The aspect that is operative depends on the conditions in which you find yourself. When conditions are favourable the constructive aspect of the mode is operative, and in adverse conditions the destructive aspect comes into play.

These conditions can be conceptualised as levels of noise. I define noise as the set of acute disruptions and/or chronic disturbances that undermines the optimal functioning of the investment professional. In a nutshell, noise affects what you see, what you think, and what you do. I think noise is such a big deal that I wrote a book on the subject. I also wrote an article on the differences between my book and the one by Daniel Kahneman that goes by the same name.


When you can identify a person’s signature mode, as well as the conditions they’re in, you gain an insight into a whole constellation of psycho-behavioural factors that apply to the person. You gain a fuller understanding of their emotional, cognitive and behavioural tendencies. You gain a sense of the person’s fundamental needs, their situational intolerance, and their trigger points. You gain a deeper sense of how to engage with that person so that they can bring through their best selves. 

To rescue MFM from the sin of oversimplifying a complex situation, the model recognises that any individual may have access to more than one mode. In fact, the most desirable situation is where you have access to all three modes. So the model also indicates the most productive areas for growth and development for the individual and the team. 

Developing your access to multiple modes means that you have greater breadth of capability, and can therefore potentially make a greater contribution to the team across a wider range of situations than someone who can access fewer modes of functioning. 


  • In what ways are the members of your team different to one another?
  • What might happen if deep differences were recognised and even encouraged?
  • What could you achieve if you and your team had access to a wider spectrum of constructive behaviours?