A Team Is Made Of People

So you landed a job leading a group of people. Congrats!

You better rush to grab a couple of books about leadership or team management to help answer all those questions popping into your mind.

But I dare you not to! Instead, I would like to challenge you to grab a notebook, pen, and popcorn. It is time for a binge-watch of Seinfeld or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

How can those two television shows teach us about team dynamics?

Before learning any team leadership techniques, you must look at the social dynamics within the group. A team is made up of people. It would be best if you never forgot that.

Psychologists have been trying to dissect everyone’s personalities for too long. No matter which study was done, people made a critical mistake – putting people inside a box. Being inside a box was like being stereotyped as a specific personality type for life. No changes were allowed after the test was applied. This induced limitation brought a lot of pain in the first half of the 20th century.

Gladly people learned from the mistake. Am I saying that we stopped applying psychological typification tests whatsoever? NO!

If we are mindful of that risk, we can use those psychological studies to learn more about people. How? We have all possibilities at any given time. If today someone is more in a way, that person can change for good or bad with time. That said, no box ticking with permanent marker.

So, for instance, I learned quite a bit about myself with the DiSC profile tool. And every six months, I re-do a couple of tests to reassess where I’m standing for that time. I strongly advocate for self-awareness.

Since I’ve talked about DiSC, let us keep it.

The DiSC tool was developed back in 1928 by psychologist William Moulton Marston. As you may wonder, it is an acronym.

D – Dominant

People in this psychological type (“in” is used on purpose, you are not it, you can be in it for some time) use to have more assertive approaches.

Quick thinking, fast-paced speech and no time to lose. People motivated by goals or competition present this behaviour of dominance quickly.

It is interesting to note that dominant people usually are not afraid of failure. It’s a matter of trying, and failing is an opportunity to iterate and try again. It’s more important to be expedited in decision-making than be uber-efficient and secure.

Of course, sometimes, this psychological type is denoted as authoritarian. They know what they want. They don’t want to wait. You see the type.

Famous personalities that showed these traits are Donald Trump, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hillary Clinton and Gordon Ramsay, to name a few.

i – Influencer

People presenting more creativity usually ticks this type. Dynamic and optimistic people. They are fast-paced as well, but with more love and care than Dominant types. Their fast-paced can be presented as spontaneity and talkative behaviour.

I have met some people who wore this type with extreme force at some moments in their lives. They had multiple ideas per day. They kicked off many of those ideas just to jump ship in no time … because they had another brilliant idea. It was stressful to be around them but always fun moments. I have great memories of working with them.

Famous personalities that showed these traits are Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, the late Robin Williams and Jim Carrey, to name a few.

S – Stable

As the name type suggests, stability is essential. This does not mean that everything must remain the same.

Sociable people who reflect heavily on others. People looking for harmony, community belonging, and connection are demonstrating this trait.

Expect to find more deep-meaning relationships. Stable type lives their sentimental values freely.

Famous personalities that showed these traits are the late Mahatma Gandhi, the late Martin Luther King Jr., the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Michelle Obama, to name a few.

C – Conscientious

We are back to logical reasoning.

C types are very observant. They are looking, listening, and taking mental notes. This can make them more introverted. Constantly systemically collecting data.

They need to feel secure before making a decision. Failing is a danger to their ego. They find their worth in taking the right decision. This said, they take their time to decide about anything.

“If I only could have more info to help me decide.” – That is probably the most recurrent thought.

Famous personalities that showed these traits are Bill Gates, the late Albert Einstein, the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Kevin Costner, to name a few.

How To Identify These Traits Without a Full-Featured Test?

Allow me to share a framework of small questions you can make to yourself about the other person. The idea is to select by elimination. We divide the four personality types in four groups: Extroverted/Introverted and Task-Oriented/People-Oriented.

DiSC Extroverted Personality Types

On to the more extroverted personality types:

  • Are they active?
  • Do they talk about the future?
  • Do they talk about how things might be?
  • Do they have firm eye contact?
  • Do they gesture to express themselves?

If they tick those questions, you are in the presence of someone strong in D or I traits.

DiSC Introverted Personality Types

Moving on to the more introverted personality types:

  • Are they more reserved?
  • Do they talk about the present and/or the past?
  • Do they talk about how things are going?
  • Do they speak in a calm and paused tone of voice?
  • Do they avoid eye contact?

If they tick those questions, you are in the presence of someone strong in C or S traits.

DiSC Task Oriented Personality Types

Time to move to more Task-oriented personality types. These types are driven by concrete work, not much about the people:

  • Do they talk or ask about tasks?
  • Do they focus more on tasks than people?
  • Do they show fewer emotions?

If they tick those questions, you are in the presence of someone strong in D or C traits.

DiSC People Oriented Personality Types

And now, the people-oriented personality types:

  • Do they talk about people?
  • Do they focus more on people than the task at hand?
  • Do they easily show emotions?

If they tick those questions, you are in the presence of someone strong in I or S traits.

The idea is to cross people around those four groups. Don’t be afraid to get them wrong. As I said, we are not ticking boxes with perm ink. We are just trying to learn a little bit more about the people we get around with, whether at work, socially or even at home.

Back To The Sitcom

You are probably thinking about where Seinfeld and the TMNT sitcoms fit. The characters on those two sitcoms were created around these personality types. Each one embodies one of these.

Can you guess who’s who? I will give you a hand.

Dominant – Jerry

Influencer – Elaine

Stable – Kramer

Conscientious – George

Dominant – Raphael

Influencer – Michelangelo

Stable – Leonardo

Conscientious – Donatello

I promise to return to this subject for a deeper analysis of each personality type. But for now, it is time to get back to another Seinfeld or TMNT episode. I want to challenge you to find it by yourself.

Yours truly,

Ricardo Castelhano