When forming a team for an organizational project, there are two ways to go about finding the right people for you:
A. Gathering like-minded people who are likely to agree and collaborate smoothly
B. Composing a group made up of different types of personalities, work processes, and strengths
Which would you choose?
While A is a tempting route because of the high probability of interpersonal synergy (after all, a team whose members get along makes everyone happy!), it’s actually choice B that will lead to more innovative, robust outcomes. Why?
Because diversity equals success. According to The American Society for Mechanical Engineers, “Teams do better when they are composed of people with the widest possible range of personalities, even though it takes longer for such psychologically diverse teams to achieve good cooperation.”
Who should you pick for your team?
The organizational process of any team project is shaped kind of like a funnel: it begins with a broad idea and is honed down into specific strategies for execution. So you need people on your team who can deliver success at each of these stages. Here are the four players you need:
Strengths: The dreamer isn’t afraid to throw ideas out there, no matter how grand or unexpected. Dreamers don’t waste time with doubt—they have vision, and their willingness and enthusiasm to say YES to ideas that pop up produce innovations that many others would never have come up with.
Weaknesses: Developing the nuts-and-bolts strategy for implementation isn’t always a dreamer’s strong point (but keep in mind their imagination and ability to think broadly can also come in handy later in the timeline, when they foresee possible failures that others haven’t thought of).
How to recognize a dreamer: The dreamer is full of energy and starts sentences with, “Now, stay with me for a minute, but…” and “What if we tried this…”
The Detail-oriented Realist
Strengths: The detail-oriented realist picks up where the dreamer leaves off: by taking up ideas and scrutinizing them, holding them up to the light and asking, “Is this possible?” This person loves to create a detailed analysis of the steps that will need to be taken to achieve the big dream.
Weaknesses: Because the realist is so dedicated to mapping out a firm plan, he or she may be hesitant to adapt to a new strategy in the event of unplanned circumstances.
How to recognize a realist: They’re the ones scribbling down notes and drawing charts on their notepads during meetings, and they ask questions like, “What’s the timeline for this?”
Strengths: Writers know how to finesse—how to take an idea and give it a voice. They are crucial on any team because they’re the ones who will be able to generate communications, draft white papers, and distill complicated projects into major bullet points.
Weaknesses: Writers are more likely to be introverted, so they won’t always participate as fully in meetings—especially if they see their role as a scribe, rather than a generator of ideas.
How to recognize a writer: His or her emails are always clear, concise, and grammatically sound.
The Marketing Guru
Strengths: Once an idea is generated, organized, and expressed, it needs to be disseminated. Marketing gurus are the ones who know how to take care of this part—their extroverted nature and keen sense of social and professional networks gives them a sharp eye for conveying messages in a way that an audience needs to hear.
Weaknesses: Because the marketing guru is always thinking about how to sell an idea, he or she may have a tendency to embellish details or only highlight aspects of a plan that are more appealing to an audience.
How to recognize a marketing guru: His or her Twitter account has a thousand followers, and he says things like, “How will we brand this idea?”
It bears mentioning that not everyone fits into these cookie-cutter personality types neatly, and some people have skills in multiple areas. These are simply guides for the main skills that are useful to have while developing a project. The key message is that a diverse skill set, rather than a team comprised of like-minded thinkers, is the foundation of a successful project.