The Success Orientations Model

What are success orientations?




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"I am a mix of all three orientations!"

Cool! Unusual (but very cool). Why unusual? Because a person may be able to work in all three orientation modes, but typically has one strong or dominant orientation and one secondary one.


  • Huang Wang first works very hard at everything that is assigned to her in her job (process orientation) because she wishes to be successful . When there is a problem with the instructions, or a chance she will not be rewarded for her dedication, or a need to show what she has achieved, Huang makes time to visit her work friends and others who may be able to help her or praise her hard work (relationship orientation). When asked to describe her goals, however, Huang is not able to clearly articulate them beyond "I wish to be successful in my job".

  • Bill Halliday loves climbing mountains (goal orientation). But he also loves the company of fellow climbers and the camaraderie that comes with a team climb (relationship orientation). Being with fellow climbers is also an aid to Bill as he needs someone to help him keep on top of the rigorously organized nature of climbing gear and protocols. Being organized is not his strength.

Huang and Bill are typical human beings. They have one dominant and one secondary success orientation. A third orientation is weaker or missing altogether in some extreme cases.

"I use all three orientations, depending on the context of a problem"

While a few people are truly well-rounded and enjoy paperwork, meeting people, and striving towards goals equally, most people who are highly effective in their jobs and life in general can use all three orientations equally well, depending on the context of the situation they find themselves in. This is different from "being all three" however. When pressed to admit what they enjoy doing in life, these individuals will usually identify one of the three orientations as a dominant one.

So this makes an important distinction: We all seem to have a success orientation that we prefer, a secondary one which can work well for us, and a weaker third orientation that we can train ourselves to use as needed. But we may never really enjoy the third one...nor do we default to it under pressure, which is where our dominant orientation takes over and asserts itself.

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