You might not see your staff as animals yoked together, but the Old English origin of the word “team” suggests just that. Maybe that is why some team environments are sometimes described as a “zoo.”

The root word for “team” suggests a harnessing together for a common purpose. And just as animals harnessed together overcome differences in temperament and direction to reach a common destination, successful leaders learn how to overcome member differences in order to propel the team forward.

There are at least three personality types that show up on nearly every team. Leadership in the context of those personalities will take definitive and yet careful attention.

The Wannabe Leader

This member tries to set your agenda or direct the team in informal ways. Find ways to harness this energy in positive ways. Give the wannabe leader specific responsibilities that fit with your vision.

The Naysayer

Every team seems to have a Debbie Downer who is quick to disparage new ideas and seems to thrive on negative talk. Have a private chat with your naysayer and challenge him or her gently but directly to make a positive contribution.

The Underachiever

Tardiness, missed appointments, and blown deadlines are symptoms of an underachiever. Give your underachiever clear expectations with built-in rewards and consequences. Then follow through.

Not every team member will be a superstar, but each one can improve performance with the right coaching and affirmation. Henry Ford said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

-Stan Toler