Building Great Teams

The Secret Ingredient to Building Great Teams

There are three ways that leaders often pick teams:

1, They choose team members merely on the basis of individual skill.
2. They choose team members who are like them.
3. They assemble a group of the smartest and brightest people.

None of these tactics succeed, because they all overlook the role that personality plays in predicting team performance. In particular, personality affects:

Building Great Teams
  • What role you have within the team
  • How you interact with the rest of the team
  • Whether your values (core beliefs) align with the teams

The above factors that are affected by personality are the primary determinants of how people will work together. There are two roles that we all play in teams – a functional role and a psychological role. Our functional role is based on our skills, qualifications and experience and our psychological role is based on the kind of person we are. Many organisations focus only on the functional role and hope that high performance will somehow follow. However, the reason why even some of the most talented teams often fail is because they lack the necessary psychological balance and synergy.

A good example of a highly talented team that failed to live up to its expectation is the French football that infamously crashed out of the 2010 World Cup at the group stages amidst a scandal of in-fighting and destructive behaviour. The only way to get the psychological balance and synergy that teams need to succeed is to focus on personality attributes, values, motives and soft-skills.

According to Hogan Assessment Systems, they have found that the balance of five psychological roles within a team are an effective predictor of team success. The five different psychological roles that people in teams naturally gravitate towards are results, relationships, process, innovation and pragmatism.


Results-oriented members are important to teams as they are more likely to take charge, delegate work, hold members accountable, evaluate outcomes and communicate a common vision. Without someone to take charge, establish goals and timelines and hold individual members accountable to their commitments, teams tend to drift away from their goals over time. However, too many result-oriented team members leads to infighting and conflict for leadership roles.


Relationship-focused members are good at empathising with other people’s feelings and at building team cohesion. Relationship oriented members are important for teams because they maintain harmony within the group. No matter how talented your team is, it does little good if they won’t work together. However, relationship-oriented can be overly focused on getting along so they need to be balanced with results-oriented members.

To give an example of the importance of relationship-builders to teams, Hogan evaluated a finance team responsible for rolling out a new business reporting product to transform the culture of a government agency.What Hogan found was that the percentage of players in each role indicated that the team was doomed from the start:

  • 17% of team members were considered results-oriented
  • 100% of team members were considered pragmatic
  • 0% of team members were considered innovative
  • 50% of team members were considered process-oriented
  • 0% of team members were considered good relationship builders

Since there were no relationship-builders, the team lacked internal cohesion and it lacked the ability to connect with the frontline leaders in the government agency who were going to be implementing this product.


In relation to process, people who naturally focus on process are concerned with the implementation, the details of execution, and the use of systems to complete tasks. They are reliable, organized, and conscientious about following rules and protocol. WIthout enough process-oriented people, teams tend to lack self-discipline. However, too many process driven people leads to teams becoming too rigid and lacking the flexibility necessary to overcome unexpected obstacles.


People who are drawn to the innovation role are big-picture thinkers. They are great at spotting trends and patterns quickly, enjoy solving problems, and generate creative solutions. They are able to anticipate problems and recognize when the team needs to adapt or change course. However, the problem with big-picture thinkers is that they tend to have a problem with practicality.


Finally, there are those who tend to become pragmatists in teams. Every team needs a good pragmatist— a practical, somewhat hard-headed challenger of ideas and theories. They promote realistic approaches and aren’t easily swayed by the need to preserve harmony or innovation for its own sake. Without enough of these people, teams tend to spend a lot of team pursuing ideas that seem great at first, but prove impossible to implement. However, if you have too many of them, the team becomes too critical and close-minded to allow new ideas to develop.

Building Great Teams is About Balance

Creating great teams is like creating a great bottle of wine. In great bottles of wine, all of the five components that make up wine (acid, alcohol, sugar, tannin and water) exist in an ideal ratio to each other. Too much of one part and the wine will suffer, not enough of another part and the wine will suffer. Similarly, a great team needs the right balance of people in results, relationships, innovation, process and pragmatism roles to be successful.

We Can Help You Build a High-Performing Team

We are the main distributors of the Hogan Assessments in Ireland. We have 35 years of experience in using validated assessments to help companies of all sizes understand their current team dynamics and build high-performing teams. If you are interested in finding out more about how we can help you build a high-performing team, you can contact us via email at or on the phone at 01 497 2067.

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