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How do different personality types affect your team?


One of the characteristics of world-class teams is that they are able to draw strength from diversity. In some teams, the differences may cause tension – but in the very best teams, they create strength.


Psychologist Carl Jung identified four base personality types, which should sound familiar if you’ve ever worked with other people:

  • Some people tend to be competitive, demanding, determined, strong-willed, highly-focused and purposeful. Let’s call this personality ‘The Sergeant Major’.
  • Others might be more sociable, dynamic, energetic, creative, persuasive and instinctive. Let’s refer to this type as ‘The Entertainer’.
  • There are people who tend to be more caring, patient, nurturing and harmonising. We can call this type ‘The Hippy’.
  • And there are others who are precise, methodical, structured, conservative, deliberate and reasoned. We’ll refer to this as ‘The Professor’ type.


Here is a visual representation of the different characteristics:


Personality types


Almost everyone is a blend of all four, and therefore has all these different tendencies to varying degrees. What do you think your dominant personality type is? What would you say your secondary, tertiary and least dominant type is?


Which types is your team made up of?

Now, let’s think of how all this affects the make-up of your team. If the team is imbalanced towards the left hemisphere, it will probably be slow to respond and make decisions. On the other hand, if your team is over-balanced to the right hemisphere, you are likely to be impulsive and hasty, rather than measured and strategic. Alternatively, if a team has more ‘head’ than ‘heart’ (Professors and Sergeant Majors) it might not respond intuitively and might not fully understand the emotional impact of a decision. Conversely, a team with more ‘heart’ than ‘head’ (Entertainers and Hippies) tends not to make calculated decisions is inclined to ‘go with its gut’.


Use this simple quiz to get a tailored analysis of your team’s strengths and weaknesses:


  1. Pick up a pen and paper and try to match each of your teammates to one of the personality types according to their most dominant traits.
  2. Count how many of each type you have.
  3. Pick the option that best describes your team below.


Evenly balanced

Your team has the potential to make well-considered decisions and find effective solutions to challenges. On occasions, there might be some differences of opinion along the way, but if everyone is allowed to play to their strengths, you are likely to complement each other well.


Mostly ‘Hippies’ and ‘Professors’

Your team may respond to changes quite slowly and may get left behind. You have great analytical abilities within the team, and can think through issues in real depth, but you may find yourselves going around in circles or struggling to reach outcomes. You might also find it difficult to ‘think outside the box’, embrace new, creative or radically different ideas.


Mostly ‘Professors’ and ‘Sergeant Majors’

Your team is likely to be very strategic. You have the ability to analyse information, and the focus and direction to use it. You may find, from time to time, that conflict and tension creeps in. This is most likely when there is a tension between the need for action and urgency, verses slow, calculated decision making. It is also possible that your logical decisions may not be fully embraced by everyone, if you don’t take into account how they make people feel.


Mostly ‘Sergeant Majors’ and ‘Entertainers’

Your team is likely to be highly adaptable, urgent, energetic, creative and work at a fast pace. It’s probably a pretty exciting place to be; brimming with new ideas. Your team is unlikely to be short on action. However, you may also find that you make relatively high-risk decisions without fully considering them and without all of the information. You may also find that you have lots of open actions and too many new initiatives that aren’t completed and finished.


Mostly ‘Entertainers’ and ‘Hippies’

Your team is likely to be really nice and very cohesive. Your team members will tend to be happy and valued. However, your team might not be particularly analytical, strategic or focused. You may also struggle to be highly productive and effective, or to make those ‘ruthless’ decisions. You won’t be short on ideas or exciting new prospects, but you may find that you struggle to implement them.


A more detailed discussion of the personality types and how they work in teams can be found in Simon Hartley’s Stronger Together: How Great Teams Work