There are many personality tests which allow you and your colleagues to score yourselves in response to various questions. These result in defining you with particular personality types. For the team, or for serving in a church, I have found that a rather more pragmatic approach is often sufficient.
Often people demonstrate certain characteristics by which people might define them: ‘Creative’, ‘Initiator’, ‘Extrovert’ etc. Let’s look at five such pairs and see how they can help us.
A few years ago I had two excellent members of my staff team. For various reasons it was convenient for them to share an office. I soon discovered that something was wrong. Because they showed much grace it was necessary to be sensitive to dig out what the problem was. It turned out that one of them liked to work in peace and quiet and remain focussed on the task in hand, while the other could think only by talking out his ideas. Needless to say they were incompatible and I had to give them separate work spaces.
I later discovered that this is a well-known phenomenon. The Introvert internalises his thinking and comes up with his conclusions while the Extrovert formulates his conclusions through interaction with others – thinking ‘out loud’. So, while one is saying ‘please leave me in peace’ the other is saying ‘please talk to me’. As an introvert myself (in this respect) I am always amazed that people are able to work in open plan offices. I think that would drive me crazy due to the inevitable interruptions!
How does this affect a team? Once I worked with a team leader who was an extreme extrovert. The challenge with such a person is to know when a final conclusion has been reached. Often one feels that his view has been expressed only to discover later that it appears to have changed. In reality the conclusion had not been reached at the point I thought I was being asked to act! Result? Frustration! Failure to recognise such differences, both of which are perfectly valid (and one type cannot convert to the other), may lead to tensions and a lack of clear decision-making.
I have had the joy of working for many years with Adrian Willard. He is entrepreneurial and has a hundred good ideas before breakfast! Although I am not without original thinking I tend to be a practical Implementer. I like to get things done. So frequently I will sit with Adrian just to share my current thinking knowing that he has the ability to think outside the box. The Newfrontiers family of churches has been greatly enriched by his creativity, though many would not be aware of it.
In any team it is probably wise not to have more than two creative people of this sort. Indeed, one may be sufficient. It is also important that they are not seen as too influential but that everyone on the team feels free to probe and discuss any particular idea without losing trust in and respect for one another. But without such creativity life can be very dull!
Next time we shall look at some further pairings.