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Does Your Team Have TOO Much Personality?

PersonalityIt is hard to be a part of a team; it is even harder to lead a team. When a leader creates a team, an alpha male, Type-A personality–or a perfectionist–always surfaces. This person becomes the leader of the group because of the dominant personality. Strong personality types accompanied by high performance or perfectionist tendencies are malevolent combinations. These employees work hard, maybe a little too hard, and blow at the end of a stressful workweek. They come back apologetic and happy for a day or two then return to their old ways. What can prevent the stress-induced emotional detonation and the remaining tension?

What does it take for a leader to call it quits with a team member? It becomes a serious problem when an individual gets in the way of the productivity of the team. “Since mid-sized companies (and larger) are completely dependent on teams to accomplish critical tasks, anyone who damages teamwork can’t be allowed to stay,” says Robert Sher. There are steps you can take before letting go of this performance driven person.

Identify team member personalities to keep aggressive personalities at bay. It improves the communication between leadership and the team itself. Teams often consist of guardians, inventive rationalists, creative artisans, and visionary idealists. So, recognizing who the alpha male is in the group will ease interaction between the management and the team.

Alpha male personalities produce quality work and have performance levels through the roof. Sometimes they produce work that surpasses that of their team. But therein lies the problem. It is a team. The work should be a product of the team–shared work, shared stress. Although these team leaders take the heat, that doesn’t mean they have to endure the stress alone. Fact of the matter is, when one person in the team resides at a high stress level, so does the rest of the team. It becomes an ugly cycle that only intervention can resolve. This happens when there is a break in communication. Bear in mind not just what is said, but how things are said. Thirty-eight percent of communication is in tone of voice. Keep open communication with the team, this can keep the stress level to a minimum. Constant feedback is critical in leading the leaders within the team.

Could it be a safe route to just try not to hire Type-A personalities in the first place? Not necessarily. It takes several character types to create a team. Watch the dynamics in the team, and quickly it becomes clear who these types are. Teams are always going to have leadership-driven members, some are just a bit more abrasive than others. These tendencies aren’t always clear from the beginning. Perfectionist behaviors can be latent until projects arise. Removing the noticeable Type-A personalities from the candidate pool from the start saves a lot of time, heartache, and trips to the HR department.  Ask the recruitment department to look for individuals who don’t have the Type-A qualities.

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Originally posted on Recruiter.com on May 5, 2014