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4 Key Personas for a Successful and Powerful Team

By on January 21, 2016

**This post originally appeared on The Business Journals**

Leaders constantly try to create the perfect combination of group dynamics for successful teams and finding just the right mix of people has become a blending of art and science.

Group dynamics can lead to massive failure, maintaining the status quo or achieving unparalleled success.

With over a decade of experience in project management and leading teams, I’ve discovered a successful mix of personalities that drives constructive dialogue and builds effective teams.

In this matrix of personalities, each persona is equally important to the group dynamics and contributes a key role.

1. The visionary

Innovation is driven by ideas that come from visionaries. These are the type of people who see endless opportunities and thrive on imagining the future. Visionaries are the CEOs behind the unicorn startups and massive companies. On smaller teams, they are the ones who push for out-of-the-box thinking and rally the team to reach new heights.

While they are usually the face of the company or the team, they can’t do it alone. Their imaginative and inventive tendencies mean they live in the future and require complementary personalities to bring them back to reality so that the team, as a whole, can execute on realistic ideas.

2. The reality checker

If the visionary takes 10 steps up the ladder, they need someone who can pull him back down five steps — this responsibility falls on the reality checker. Reality checkers need visionaries to inspire them with ideas, but they keep the strategy based in reality. They can look at grand, visionary ideas and goals and see which parts of it can be achieved and how. The push and pull between the reality checker and visionary duo is necessary to achieve lofty goals.

3. The keeper

The keeper makes sure that all aspects of a project are moving forward as planned. While keepers are crucial to help teams stay focused on the task at hand and not get distracted by other concepts, they need the visionary and the reality checker to help them imagine an end goal.

Keepers resist change and are content with the status quo — which is both their weakness and their strength. However, when matched with the right personalities, they are the engines that move teams up the ladder one step at a time.

4. The worker bee

Nothing would get done without the worker bee. This personality is task-orientated and has a strong work ethic. You tell them to achieve one thing, and they will find a way to get it done. If the visionary, reality checker and keeper have established realistic, focused goals, they need someone who can execute on them. The worker bee is also a great leader who can rally together a team of worker bees to execute on set goals.

When putting together teams or considering who to invite to a strategic meeting to make sure it’s productive, it’s a good rule of thumb to keep these personalities in mind. While everybody carries bits of each personality, to make a successful team you need to make sure that there is a person from each category who strongly identifies with those characteristics. In my experience, following this rule has helped me bring together teams capable of achieving great things.


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Frank Henze

Frank Henze is vice president of Product Management at Datameer with more than a decade of experience in building enterprise software systems. Previously, Henze ran project management at 101tec, a supplier of Hadoop solutions and Nutch-based search and text classification software. He also has more than five years of experience in development of large-scale systems and search engine solutions for companies such as EMI Music, Sproose, Krugle and the German Environmental Agency.

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