Understanding personalities within teams

Saumya DesaiWe are incredibly happy to be able to welcome our first student blogger to the site – Saumya Desai is studying ICT at FedUni, and is on the Golden Key Executive Committee as well as representing our Clubs and Societies on the Student Senate!


Understanding personalities within teams

Southern & Australian Uni games are approaching and some of us will represent FedUni as a player, coach, team manager or captain of various sports teams. Through sports we learn and develop leadership skills which can be helpful in various areas of our life.UNIGAMES_AUSTRALIAN_CMYK x 618

One of your roles as a leader is to bring out the best in your team members which can be applied not only in all team sports but also in any organisation, project team, group assignment or any time we have to deal with teams. Some understanding of the players and their personalities is necessary to achieve this aim. While first impressions can be important, more accurate judgements will come if you wait until you get to know them better.

There are many systems which psychologists use to analyse and classify the personalities of people. More than likely you will not have access to psychological testing. For this reason some basic personality types seen amongst team members follow. To help in this illustration a range of names or labels have been used; however these are only for illustrative purposes and are not scientifically based. Most team members will have characteristics of more than one type.

1. The Extrovert

Extrovert– The Extrovert is outgoing, sociable, friendly and enjoys being a team member.
– Usually keen to be liked by his peers and will follow the general direction of the team.
– This person will sometimes do silly things to impress others.
– Can be best managed through individual discussions and using senior team-members to influence him/her



2. The Prima Donna

PrimaDonna– The Prima Donna needs attention, and if conditions are not as he/she wishes, finds it hard to control emotions.
– This type of person rarely copes well with injury or when decisions go against him/her.
– This person is one of the hardest people to handle in a team and you will need to decide how far you are prepared to go to accommodate the Prima Donna before drawing the line.



3. The Plodder
Plodder– In most teams there will be players who are blessed with little natural ability but who practise hard to use what they have.
– The plodder tends to be conscientious and reliable.
– This person is very easy to coach and appreciates a captain who is logical and well-organised.


4. The Dominator
Dominator– The dominator is very assertive and aggressive.
– Enjoys competition and plays the game hard.
– Will often be a natural leader and therefore you may benefit by getting to know him/her and by discussing strategies and tactics.
– If you have the support of the dominator then this team member will be an excellent ally; however as an adversary he can be destructive.


5. The Thinker

Thinker– The thinker will usually be well-educated and interested in the tactics of the game.
– This person may be outgoing or reserved, with average self-confidence.
– The thinker can be a useful source of information and he will appreciate the chance to discuss game plans and strategies.



6. The Worrier
Worrier– The worrier tends to be a nervous type of person who sees the worst side of most situations.
– This person may team up with a serious thinker or plodder and is also likely to become the scapegoat for the more extroverted members of the team.
– The worrier needs to be helped to focus on the positive aspects of performance, something which can be time consuming.


7. The Introvert
Introvert– The introvert is the type of person who likes to get on with his own game.
– This team player doesn’t see the need for mixing socially with other players and can often be found sitting alone.
– It doesn’t bother him/her that others think that this person is aloof or a snob.
– You can waste a lot of time and energy trying to socialise this player.
– The easiest way to handle him is to explain the basic social requirements necessary for team harmony and then allow them the right to have time by themselves.

Winter, G. (1992). The Psychology of cricket. Sydney. Australia : Pan Macmillan

All of these descriptions can apply to any non sport-related situation as well – Which of these best represents you? Remember you will be a mix of a few!
What is the personality make-up of your team? How can you use this knowledge to get the best out of them?

– Saumya