When you have a team, your job as the leader is to inspire them and help them move toward a common goal, whether that’s reaching an organization’s objectives, completing a project, or working together more efficiently.
One challenge of leading and managing a team is that team is made up of individuals, with unique personalities, value systems, distinctive ways of processing the world, preferred way of communicating, and even how they like to create and do things.
In my work with individuals, teams, departments, staffs, and the like, I’ve identified seven different Creator Personality Types. Someone can have one of these as a dominant type, or might be able to flow in and out of two or three. Here is a breakdown of the 7 different Creator Personality Types, as well as their strengths, challenges, and recommendations for both the Personality Type and the Team Leader.
Planner – This is the person who probably did very well in school, and she was most likely labeled as a “Strong Writer” or “Strong Communicator” by her teachers. Outlines, bullet points, extensive notes are what she’s about. She takes her project and starts naturally breaking it down into categories and subcategories.
- Strengths: The Planner has a ready-made map, and she can just start at Point A and go from there.
- Challenges: If the Planner can’t readily figure out the organizational structure, she feels lost.
- Recommendation for the Planner: Do whatever you can to start jotting down ideas. The sooner you do that, the sooner your logical/linear mind will be able to see connections and the organizational structure embodied within.
- Recommendation for the Team Leader: Use the Planner and her strengths at the beginning of a project. She’ll be excited to dive in and put her organizational strengths to good use.
Storyteller – The Storyteller can’t seem to convey anything without it involving some sort of story. He can communicate any concept, as long as he can tell a story to illustrate it.
- Strengths: Where some people might struggle to explain an abstract concept, the Storyteller does it beautifully with a story.
- Challenges: The Storyteller finds it hard to be concise and just stay with the facts.
- Recommendation for the Storyteller: Try to distill your main point into as succinct a statement as possible, and then build the story around it. That way you don’t lose your team with a story that meanders a while before getting to the point.
- Recommendation for the Team Leader: The Storyteller can help keep the team motivated and on track with his ability to tell stories and help people connect emotionally to the team project or solutions to an existing problem or situation.
The Divinely Inspired – This creative soul needs to be inspired before she can create anything. While this may seem to be diva-like behavior, the truth is that when she is deeply inspired, what she creates is downright amazing.
Strengths: When the muse strikes, the ideas just flow, so the Divinely Inspired needs to take advantage of this time.
- Challenges: If the Divinely Inspired isn’t moved, ain’t nothin’ gonna happen.
- Recommendation for the Divinely Inspired: If you’re not feeling inspired, then do what you can to get there. Create and use a Divine Inspiration Kit. Go for a walk. Put on some great music. Talk to your colleagues about the positive aspects of the project. Get ready for and welcome the inspiration in.
- Recommendation for the Team Leader: Draw upon the Divinely Inspired’s inspiration to help inspire the rest of the team and keep them motivated and inspired themselves. Inspiration is infectious!
Muller/Dreamer – The Muller/Dreamer likes to mull around an idea in his head before it’s ready to come out, and only when it’s ready. Hence, timelines and deadlines aren’t so much the Muller/Dreamer’s friend. But given enough time to mull about, then the ideas and solutions just seem to form themselves.
- Strengths: If not rushed, the Muller/Dreamer can work through a situation or challenge and come up with a solution or next steps, pretty much in his head.
- Challenges: Again, if a deadline is involved, the Muller/Dreamer is going to feel rushed and that whatever he has created isn’t finished and refined.
- Recommendation for the Muller/Dreamer: You may need to set aside structured time specifically for mulling and dreaming. Another alternative is to call a friend or colleague and use him or her as a sounding board. Then, you’re processing your idea or project in a bit more of a structured and timely manner.
- Recommendation for the Team Leader: If the Muller/Dreamer is an integral part of the project and the team, build time into the project for him to go through his process. Try not to rush the Muller/Dreamer, but you may need to gently remind him of deadlines.
Doodler/Storyboarder – This type of creator needs to sketch out her ideas, possibly even with images, doodles, lines, circles, symbols, and, of course, colored pens.
- Strengths: Using this method, the Doodler/Storyboarder can not only create what’s needed for a specific project or portion of a project, but she can also create tendrils of ideas to use at later times.
- Challenges: The Doodler/Storyboarder can easily forget that this is her preferred way of creating and try a more logical, linear method… and then get frustrated.
- Recommendation for the Doodler/Storyboarder: Always have your sketchpad and a bevy of markers and colored pencils at hand. Just because it looks different from what you think creating and brainstorming is, doesn’t make it just as legitimate.
- Recommendation for the Team Leader: Understand that how the Doodler/Storyboarder creates is legitimate, even if it doesn’t fit a corporate model or perception of how one should work. Encourage your Doodler/Storyboarder and perhaps even publicly acknowledge her gifts so that the rest of the team is more accepting of her methods.
Mirror – This creator type can create anything, IF he has a model. This isn’t to say that what he creates isn’t his own; he just needs a model, a formula, a structure to go on.
- Strengths: The Mirror doesn’t seem to have a problem creating anything, as long as he has a model to follow.
- Challenges: If there is no model, the Mirror feels lost.
- Recommendation for the Mirror: There’s always a model; very little is truly unique. You may just have to find your model in unusual places. Write out the plot structure of a story. Look at other projects and finished ideas. What can you glean from them?
- Recommendation for the Team Leader: If the Mirror can’t find a model, your role is to help guide him to a model or a concept that he can then apply to the current project.
Maximizer – This creator type looks at just about anything and immediately starts seeing how she can make it better. Even if a system, a process, an existing solution is working, she can’t help but refine it to run faster, work more efficiently, be more automated, or look better.
- Strengths: When the Maximizer gets involved, the end result is going to be stellar. She takes mediocre to good, and good to great.
- Challenges: The Maximizer can take maximizing too far because there can be a point at which good enough is good enough. (The Maximizer doesn’t like that phrase at all!)
- Recommendation for the Mirror: Because anything can be maximized and as stated above, you can Maximize too far, look at the benefits of the changes you want to implement. Do the benefits outweigh the time, effort, and resources to make those changes?
- Recommendation for the Team Leader: Bring the Maximizer in at various points of the project to see if she has recommendations and suggestions. She may not be of much help at the very beginning of the project (unless you’re working from something that already exists) as there isn’t enough for her to wrap her head around. On the other hand, don’t wait too late in the project to bring her in because you don’t want to have wasted time and efforts when the Maximizer could see ways to do it better.
As the leader of a team (whether that’s a group, a department, staff, or an entire company), your number one job is to guide your team. The more you understand how they work, create, communicate, etc., the more successful you’ll be as a leader, and the more successful your team will be in reaching its goals.