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Team Building: Why Opposites Should Attract

Whether you’re launching a business or starting a new project, this is who you need on your side


by Kara Baskin

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“The key to building a great team is through diversity. Work alongside people who aren’t like you,” says Sarah Hodges, founder of Exchange, a leadership development company that helps new managers in high-growth startups to develop core management and interpersonal skills.

Hodges says that most people fall into four key teamwork styles, based on a concept called The Platinum Rule developed by marketing guru Tony Alessandra. This offshoot takes the Golden Rule a step further: Instead of treating others as you want to be treated, treat them as they want to be treated. The result: harmony, teamwork and success.

To do this, it’s essential to understand the motivations and needs of the four personality types. All four types are key when establishing a group, because each brings unique strengths. Chances are you know several people in each category. Before compiling your team, identify your own type and then reach out to the others. A good team has one of each.

The Overseer, or Director

This type is direct, to the point, moves quickly, and takes risks with confidence. But don’t burden The Overseer with a long story. Just the facts, please.

Strength: Decisiveness. These people shine when a project isn’t moving as quickly as it should.

The Social Butterfly, or Socializer

This type is friendly and warm, loves promoting others, collaborating, and firing up a team with positive feedback.

Strength: Optimism. The Socializer is inspirational when a project hits a bump.

The Empathizer, or Relater

This steady, calm type is cooperative, low-key, and always happy to listen. But don’t ask for quick action: The Empathizer needs to ponder the pluses and minuses of every situation.

Strength: Stability. The Empathizer can tone down tense situations and provide a listening ear when things get stressful.

The Intellectual, or Thinker

This deliberate, analytical, even-keeled type needs plenty of facts and context before making a decision. Count on The Intellectual to ask follow-up questions and consider all sides of an issue before taking a risk.

Strength: Perspective. This big-picture thinker only takes calculated risks and isn’t swept along by emotion or impulsiveness.

Photo Credit: Gandee Vasan/Getty