The Four Types of People You Will Always Have on Every Team

Posted: April 15, 2016 in Quintessential Leadership, Team Building & Development
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team-building-quintessential-leaderTeam-building is one of greatest challenges that quintessential leaders face. I believe this is because quintessential leaders do something that most people in leadership positions don’t do: they actually build a team thoughtfully and carefully, looking for individuals who will both complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses and who will be able to work together well and gel to form an integrated whole that can move forward successfully together.

Most teams, unfortunately, are just thrown together randomly because most people in leadership positions focus on acquiring a specific skill instead of considering candidates from a big-picture perspective that also includes attitude, temperament, personality, and how candidates will fit into an existing team structure.

We all have been leaders and parts of teams that simply don’t work. There’s always high drama, lots of tension, and seemingly endless childish nitpicking, tattletelling, and fighting.

When we’ve been part of these kinds of teams, time couldn’t go fast enough for us to move out or move on.

When we’ve been leaders of these kinds of teams, these conditions exist because we were not able to build our teams from the ground floor and we had legacy employees (angry about change and determined to derail it in any way they can) who were the source of the drama, nitpicking, tattletelling, and fighting.

It can often seem that we are leading a bunch of small children on a playground fighting over toys instead of grown-ups. Of course, in the end, adults are just children in big bodies, so perhaps my comparison to three-year-olds is horribly unfair to all the actual wonderful and mostly-adorable three-year-olds out there on the planet.

However, no matter how careful we as quintessential leaders are in hand-picking and building our teams, we will still end up with the same four types of people that also always exist on teams that are randomly thrown together or that have legacy employees.

The first type is the avoider. Avoiders never disagree on anything, never give any input on anything, and never give any trouble about anything. They are quiet and appear to simply be doing their job.

However, avoiders are a trouble spot on teams because they are also passive-aggressive in how they respond to things. While avoiders never say a word, they show their displeasure with things at best by simply doing the minimum of work required or at worst by frequent absenteeism.

The second type of person we’ll find on every team is the guileless workhorseGuileless workhorses are an incredible asset to our teams, although because they lack guile – they say what they mean and they mean – they communicate in a straightforward and forceful way.

You always know exactly where you stand with a guileless workhorse and you can count on a prodigious amount of quality work from them. However, because of the way they communicate, guileless workhorses can often find themselves at the center of controversy with other team members who either wear their feelings on their sleeves or are looking to be offended.

The third type is the house rat. In the military, during basic training, drill instructors will, within two days of a group of recruits being together, be able to determine who the house rat (this is the person who will be their eyes and ears and who will feed information to them about everybody and everything and who will feed the rest of the recruits false information to try to get more dirt on them) will be.

House rats are the most destructive member of any team. They are people-pleasers. They have an overinflated opinion of their value – and the false information they plant and the true (they think) information they share – and their abilities.

House rats are fundamentally narcissistic and have an insatiable need to be at the center and in the middle of everything, whether it’s good or bad. If nothing’s allowing them to be the center of attention, they will even agitate the team to initiate conflict so that they can be in the middle of something “big.”

House rats will, ultimately, do and say whatever they believe will get them noticed and promoted. There are no limits to what they will say and do to achieve this goal (i.e., they have no morals, no scruples, and no shame).

As a result, house rats are also fundamentally dishonest and fundamentally untrustworthy (quintessential leaders will see right through them at the outset and work diligently to remove them as quickly as possible from their teams).

The fourth type of person we’ll find on every team is the truth-teller. Like guileless workhorsestruth-tellers are also an invaluable asset to our teams.

Truth-tellers are, first and foremost, superb observers of everything. They don’t miss a thing, although they are often in the background and appear not to be in the middle of everything.

Truth-tellers see the big picture. Their gifts are in recognizing when things are going awry (and why, with solutions to right those things), recognizing and acknowledging good things and laudable qualities in and/or work by other team members, and communicating truths simply and clearly.

Their main advantages over the guileless workhorses is that truth-tellers tend to approach things in a more objective way and they have developed a good language for tactful, yet inarguable, communication.

Look at your teams and identify each of these types.

Now look in the mirror and identify which one of these types you – and I (I am a truth-teller) – are and whether you are an asset or a liability to your teams.

Are you an avoider?

Are you a guileless workhorse?

Are you a house rat?

Are you a truth-teller?

How are we doing?

  1. Very truthful post. I am sure these 4 types of people would all say they are truth-tellers. Why, because people can never see what they really are. I have been on teams, which I care nothing for, but sometimes it is necessary. I would say I am a truth-teller.


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