Leadership 101: Making the most of different personality types on your team

Stephanie A. Mayberry

Managing a workplace team isn’t easy. When that team is comprised of various personality types it can be very challenging. Most individuals are programmed to immediately default to the negative aspects of a behavior or personality type. However, many of those personalities that, at first blush seem negative, can actually be molded into valuable team assets.

Leadership 101: Making the most of different personality types on your team

Here are some of those personalities, how to spot them, and how to use them for the betterment of your team.

The Pessimist

For the pessimist, there is no sunny side of the street. They find fault with everything, nothing is ever right, and nothing will ever turn out well. The upside to this behavior is that pessimists are able to consider the worst case scenario, what can go wrong, and help develop defensive strategies to avoid it. Pessimism can actually be turned into productivity when channeled properly.

Pessimists are pretty easy to spot. They are negative; all you have to do is listen to them. They tend to be very vocal with their negativity and they seem to work very hard to get others to see their side. However, pessimists can be very good strategists and analysts.

The Cheerleader

Acceptance is the name of the game for the workplace cheerleader. They have a strong need to be accepted by the team. They shy away from conflict and can’t relate others’ inability to get along. They are extremely loyal to the team, the company, and their leader. However, they are strong feelers to the extent that it could impede their ability to focus on the little details – or the big picture for that matter. They are very good for helping resolve conflict on a team and smoothing ruffled feathers of the members. They can get caught up in socializing though.

Cheerleaders are great peacemakers and many can be great leaders when they have good guidance. Let them function as cheerleaders – within reason – but set boundaries. They work best when eased into business situations so when you sit down to talk to them, begin with some small talk before launching into the meat of the conversation.

The Procrastinator

The classic procrastinator consistently misses deadlines, potentially holding up projects – or they may come in just under the wire. Specific behaviors depend on the type of procrastinator. Some fear failure so they will put off work (what they perceive as an opportunity to fail) until they cannot avoid it any longer. Other procrastinators are driven by the rush of waiting until the last minute then trying to beat the deadline. Still others are simply unable to make a decision. The one trait they all have in common though is the inability to self-regulate.

You can spot a procrastinator by their late or almost late work, their many excuses for missing deadlines, and their lack of communication (sometimes seen as avoidance) – all of which is very consistent. Creating a structured environment with several points of accountability can help keep the procrastinator focused. They can be highly productive members of your team.

The Perfectionist

These are your typical overachievers. They work hard, are very detailed, and highly analytical. They often turn in high quality work, but sometimes it comes with a price. They could miss deadlines because they are editing and re-editing that report to make it perfect, or hold up an entire project because they need for their contribution to be mistake free.

Managing a perfectionist isn’t always easy, although it is pretty easy to spot them. Many come across as workaholics, coming in early, leaving late. Their dedication to quality work is very evident. Channeling that perfectionism is easier than you think. Create a collaborative environment and set early deadlines to allow collaboration of the finished product. You can also provide quality standards to guide them.

What may appear to be handicaps can be turned into assets with the right leadership and encouragement. Each of these personalities has unique, valuable contributions to make to any team. All you have to do is learn how to channel them.