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Does Your Team have the Four Essential Personality Types?

Posted by Bob Corlett on October 4, 2010

Taken from an interview with Paul Maritz, president and CEO of the software firm VMware, as reported and excerpted by Adam Bryant in “The Corner Office” in the Oct. 3 edition of The New York Times:

There is no such thing as a perfect leader. If you look at successful groups, Maritz says, invariably there’s a mix of personality types that enables the group to function at a high level.  He goes on to say that “at the risk of oversimplifying, I think that in any great leadership team, you find four essential personality types, and you never find all four of those personalities in a single person.”  He lists the four:

  1. You need to have someone who is a strategist or visionary, who sets the goals for where the organization needs to go.
  2. You need to have somebody who is the classic manager. That person takes care of the organization in terms of making sure that everyone knows what they need to do and making sure that tasks are broken up into manageable, measurable actions.
  3. You need a champion for the customer, because you are trying to translate your product into something that customers are going to pay for. It’s important to have somebody who empathizes and understands how customers will see it.
  4. Then, lastly, you need the enforcer. You need somebody who says: “We’ve stared at this issue long enough. We’re not going to stare at it anymore. We’re going to do something about it. We’re going to make a decision. We’re going to deal with whatever conflict we have.”

In Maritz’s view, you very rarely find more than two of these personality types in one person. “I’ve never seen it. In really great teams, you have a group of people who provide those functions and who respect each other and, equally importantly, each person knows who they are and who they are not. Often, I’ve seen people get into trouble when they think they’re the strategist and they’re not, or they think they’re the decision maker and they’re not.”

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