It is critically important for leaders of people in organizations or on project teams to have a high degree of self-awareness. These people need to have a strong understanding of where they excel and what their blind spots are. A great way to gain a better grip on this is to use an EQI assessment tool of some sort to measure emotional awareness. There are several good tools like this available on the web that will help one better understand how they best work and how others perceive them.
Another piece of understanding I’ve found helpful is gaining a better grasp on how one as an individual approaches and solves problems. Though certainly not empirically tested here are three larger frameworks I’ve observed in regard to how people are wired to solve challenges. All three of these are important. None of these are inherently superior to each other. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and are, in fact, contextual to the type of work that is involved. Here’s the three approaches I’ve observed:

The “Engineer”: This type of leader thinks in a highly logical, methodical, and linear fashion. If one does “A” and then “B” then “C” should be what happens. This type of thinking is perfect in maximizing effectiveness in processes. The struggle for this person obviously are scenarios with a lot of unpredictable variables. If the factors involved are largely known then in my experience given enough time and space to work they will figure out a strong approach toward solving a challenge.
The “Prospector”: This is the type of leader who has the innate ability to think out of the box and see angles no one else sees. I’ve been around several like this and it is a marvel to watch them ideate. They shine in a no holds barred idea session where they are allowed to process out loud, free-wheel on other’s input, interrupt others, and totally indulge in big thinking. The struggle for this person is the binding rules of reality or organizational limits. Sometimes these can and need to be pushed but sometimes these limitations are real. When one is looking for fresh approaches then ask this type of person and be ready. They may throw nine bad ideas out first as they process but they will hit gold if allowed the freedom to dream.
The “Judge”: This person’s strength lies in context. Just as a judge hears cases and filters both arguments through existing legal precedents this person does so with challenges. They have the ability to look at other situations and pull what is applicable to their own situation. Their main strength lies in adaptability and adjusting. They won’t be the one to come up with a totally original plan but are strong in taking what either a rough concept or an idea that works somewhere else and apply it as a solution. This person’s biggest struggle is going to in situations where there is no precedent from which to draw. They don’t work will from totally blank slates but give them a toehold to work with and they will find a way.

Which one of these frameworks most fits you? Some of us fall squarely into one but over time most of us have one that is our general disposition and another that is adaptive for us. As stated above, all three of these are important and useful skills to have, especially in the right context. For example the Prospector will shine in entrepreneurial and new venture situations. The Engineer is perfect for tried and true processes that need to be maximized. The Judge can be an asset to work that needs to be agile and adaptive to changes in the industry. I encourage you to watch those around you, especially those who fall into different frameworks, and learn from them. Working alongside them in problem-solving will broaden your experiences and help you to grow your influence.