One of my favorite sayings is “teamwork makes the dream work.” I like it because it sums up what is best about teamwork –bringing people together to realize a common goal. But what makes a team good enough to accomplish its objectives, and what personalities are required to get it done?
When putting together a great group, or team, the best managers know it isn’t always easy for individuals to work together. If you put too many similar people together it can stifle creativity and synergy, but if you put together people who are too different there can be conflict and misunderstanding. There must be a blend of similar and different to get to the best working team.
Some of the best and brightest employees lack organization. Think of the absent-minded professor who lacks the ability to get from point A to point B and often miss meetings because they are so focused on their work. The foil for this personality is to have a strong organizer who can work with the disorganized on the team to keep them on point. The Organizer plays a key role by making sure the rest of the team is synced and has planned out schedules and production. No team can be successful without the Organizer. In many organizations this person has a formalized role as a program manager, at other types the organizer personality simply keeps everyone on track and going in the same direction.
THE PEOPLE PERSON
Interpersonal relationships aren’t easy for many people, in the office or at home. Some people prefer to work alone, and when on a team it can be difficult to get things done because the more independent team members may be prickly and argumentative. In this case, it is helpful to have a real People Person to help smooth out the imbalance. In general, a true People Person is patient, has a high tolerance threshold, will overlook standoffish ways, and compensate for the anti-social person’s lack of engagement. They are the heavy lifters of communication and go the extra mile to keep the team talking and interacting.
Excellent teams respect their teammates’ different talents and qualities, even when they may not have as much experience as the rest. Typically, the most senior person on the team gets the most respect and opinions considered, but a team can also succeed by listening to a less experienced person because they are seeing things through a new set of eyes and may come up with innovative and fresh ideas. It is arrogant and selfish for seasoned professionals to ignore the insights of the newest person. The most successful teams will show respect and listen to the opinions of everyone, even if they are inexperienced.
Creativity is hard to define, but generally creative people are the part of the team who conceptualize things into visually and sensory-pleasing products and ideas. In the past, creativity has been pushed aside as frivolous or unnecessary, but current trends lean in to the idea that there is a place at the table for creativity. The Creative teammate can help translate data and information into images and words that others can understand. Creativity and hard data can successfully work together in unison. Allowing the Creative to participate on a team will ensure success to any project, especially if the less creative members respect and honor the value creativity brings.
Finally, the Peacekeeper is vital to every team as the one who can keep team relationships calm and flowing, especially when the inevitable roadblocks and impasses occur. Teamwork has challenging aspects that need a Peacekeeper to keep personalities in check, maintain mutual harmony and respect among team members, and successfully negotiate conflict and stress. The Peacekeeper role on a team is vital and requires a mature, confident, humble person who can put their own ego aside for the good of the team and the work. This is perhaps the most important role of all, and the hardest to find. Many teams will fail because internal conflict and personalities, without a Peacekeeper to guide and contain them, finally get the best of them and the work will suffer as a result.
If you have the luxury of selecting your own team for a project, it is in your best interests to find a diversity of personalities to help guide the project. There is a reason great companies are so quick to promote their thought diversity – it takes all personalities to make up a winning team.