A strategy guide for student leaders by student leaders.
Member Types by Personality
Diverse members make a diverse team. Diverse teams lead to better problem solving and new creative ideas. When selecting your members, it’s important to try and recruit a variety of personalities and perspectives.
While you want all members to be passionate about your organization, you want a diversity of personalities so that you can make well-informed decisions. Think of problem solving on a team like manipulating a Rubik’s Cube. Each member, including yourself, can see a certain number of squares and sides. For simple problems, a single person might be able to see all sides and solve the cube. For complex problems, no one is able to see all sides. Having individuals who can see different sides of the cube will make it easier for everyone to work together to solve the puzzle. I have found that people generally fall into eight distinct personality categories. Some individuals exist within one category; some fluctuate between categories. You’ll want to identify not only which members fall into which categories, but also how you can leverage each category’s unique skills to accomplish the task at hand.
These team members focus on new ideas and paths forward. When you need inspiration or when you get stuck, Creatives will come up with a bold initiative to get your team excited and back on its feet. They’re thinking about the future and what’s possible. However, they’re less interested in the day to day implementation. They want to come up with the next big idea and have someone else figure out if it’s viable.
These team members are great planners. They think of how to take an idea and make it into reality. Strategists are constantly thinking of new solutions and paths forward. They’re able to take a lot of data and prioritize what is important and what is not. Strategists can run into problems if they’re unable to communicate their vision or if they don’t assess the difficulties of change management.
Coordinators are your classic project managers. They understand how to delegate roles and manage different workstreams. They’re focused on what milestone needs to be hit and what needs to be done in order to ensure a timely and budget conscious implementation. They understand interdependencies and track issues and solutions. Coordinators can focus too much on the established plan and fail to adapt to changing circumstances, thus frustrating other members.
Implementors like to work with their hands whether it be physical or intellectual work. They’re focused on getting work done in an excellent manner. They take directions well and translate them into deliverables. Implementors are task oriented and hate to see something unfinished. However, they can sometimes have difficulty letting go and get attached to work that no longer has relevance.
These members are gregarious and easily excited. They’ll pump up other teammates and scream about the team’s accomplishments from every rooftop. They’re great publicists and marketers. They’re the most active during recruiting, and they’re great at drumming up support for new initiatives. However, these individuals can be tiring to members who need times of quiet. Cheerleaders may also want to charge forward even if an idea is not fully fleshed out.
Diplomats see everyone’s perspective and are invested in ensuring team unity and cordiality. These members are focused on finding compromises and solutions that preserve relationships and goodwill. Diplomats are well liked and are excellent go-betweens if there’s a conflict that needs to be resolved by two parties. Unfortunately, their focus on relationships can blind them if the best path forward requires one party to lose or leave the organization.
The Devil’s Advocate is one of the most useful yet one of the most tricky team members to deal with. This individual enjoys poking holes into ideas and sketching up potential scenarios that might happen if a plan goes awry. They’re primarily interested in preventing the potential down-sides of an initiative or idea. If not managed properly, they can also bring down morale, irk teammates, and be too risk-averse.
These members are experts in one or two relevant areas and tend to be focused specifically on those areas. They’re great resources for additional knowledge, connections, and insights. Oftentimes, these members will be able to speed up processes, provide mentoring, and avoid pitfalls. Unfortunately, their focus can be limiting, and they may be uninterested in the other activities that are going on in the organization.