In the last few years, the approach towards work has changed dramatically. We don’t need to work from 9 to 5 (or at least not everyone), we don’t need cubicles as much as we did in the past, and we don’t need (want) to climb the corporate ladder.

Flexible hours, open spaces, and diplomatic structures are the new way of life. However, there is one thing that hasn’t changed – the need for a good team made up of people with different work styles.

Work style is the foundation on which businesses grow, operate, and thrive. It refers to the way we think, organize and structure our work.

Are you the type of person who talks before they think? Or perhaps look before they leap? How much information and time do you need before doing something?

Everybody is different. If we all had a similar vision and approach when it comes to completing projects (or in life, for that matter) we wouldn’t accomplish much. If Jake, Clare, and Sophie had an intuitive, big-picture kinda approach to complete a project, then we would never get things done.

We all have preferred ways of thinking, speaking, or analyzing, which is actually a good thing. For a team to thrive, different people and ideas are needed.

Let’s dive in and check out all the different work styles that are out there.

Work style types

The Leader

These are the ones that take risks, spark energy, and stimulate others. They see the big picture and embrace the vision of the organization. The leaders create opportunities and make decisions, they don’t like repetition and want new challenges, and they don’t fixate on small details.

This group of people want to win and see results using logic. They might come across as too authoritative. If you are an entrepreneur, you probably belong to this category.

The Independent

This type of style refers to the people who are flying solo. They are the master of their own show and they find it challenging to cooperate with others. The independent workers do not want a lot of supervision and prefer doing things on their own, following their gut. This category is usually reserved for the creative ones. They are known for being efficient, productive, and disciplined.

The Operator

These are the people that everybody loves. The independent ones love to work on their own, but these guys here want to be surrounded by people and work within a group. They are diplomatic and great communicators that thrive on feedback. They are cooperative, pragmatic, stable, and thorough.

The operators prefer to work on projects with others so that they can share the responsibility. Their style is strategic, collaborative, and organized. They don’t like ambiguity, sometimes they can get overly cautious, and they want to follow plans and structures. If you are someone who works in HR you belong in this category.

The Status Quo Defender

If you are a defender of the status quo it means that you want stability and order. You are not into risks, you are detail-oriented, you value tradition, and resist changes. The defenders would look before they leap and they are thoughtful.

However, this means that they want to avoid conflict and be sensitive to criticism. When you work with the defenders, you should bear in mind that they are steady, patient, and precise. They prefer repetitive work and it takes them time to get close to new people.

The Altruist

If you are supportive, emotionally aware, and expressive, then you belong here. The important thing about this group of people is to nurture good connections with their colleagues. They seek harmony and want to celebrate success with their team. We could say that they thrive on collaboration and not on competition.

They might get frustrated by stagnation, they are overly cautious, and are slower when making decisions. They are natural team players who contribute to a teamwork culture.

The Analyst

These guys are deliberate, they anticipate problems, and follow through. They want to collaborate with others, but they can also work quietly on their own. We could say that they are the stable force within a team. They can be quite straightforward but also sensitive to criticism. They are also uncomfortable working under pressure and want to have a plan they can follow.

The Outgoing

It’s hard not to love them. They are the soul of the party. They are charismatic, collaborative and want to help others, flexible, and quite diplomatic. As natural team players, they are known to be sympathetic and uninhibited. The problem is that they can be too talkative and they have limited attention to detail. If you are their manager, you should probably let them have their freedom of expression since they don’t respond well to rigid rules and formalities.

The Specialist

These are very loyal to authority. They are cautious and precise. The specialists are supportive and collaborative and might get obsessed with getting things done the right way. Being skeptical and factual is their thing. The specialists need to be recognized regularly and have as much information as possible so that they can make the right decisions.

How to balance work styles in a team

Once you figure out where you and your teammates belong, it is easy to use the information and become aware of tendencies, biases and find ways to improve the collaboration within the team. When you put this knowledge to use, you’ll learn to value and respect others and what they bring to the table.

As a matter of fact, if you work alone, you are bound to miss out on some things. That s why different work styles yield better output. Our instincts would suggest finding people with similar work styles, but being surrounded by people with opposite perspectives would get you elusive results.

For instance, imagine having team members who all have a planned and analytical approach to finalizing projects without presenting new ideas and views. Who will come up with that big and bold idea that would bring innovation to the world? On the flip side, if everyone in the team is guided by their intuition without limitations, you will all be over budget and behind schedule most of the time.

The idea is to analyze the team members and to find out what is needed for each member to thrive. For example, the status quo defender would like to have an agenda and time before they make a decision, while the leader would need a whiteboard to brainstorm ideas. So, it would be a good idea to give the defenders of the status quo time to prepare for meetings or give the independents autonomy so that they can thrive.

Final thoughts

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Dave Winsborough said: The dynamics of interpersonal relationships depend on individuals’ personalities, not on hard skills or expertise. As employees, we can all get better at our job by taking different courses or coaching, but at the end of the day, we are who we are – reserved or talkative, laid back, or competitive.

Taking this into consideration, it is important to bear in mind and make a distinction between different personalities in a team. However, we are people and we don’t live in a black and white world. This means we don’t need to box ourselves into one specific style of work forever.

It is okay if we are the leader at a certain point in time, but after a while to become the analyst. And remember: each style is unique and there is a tradeoff to every style. Let’s focus on what comes to us naturally and not overthink it.

So what kind of a flow do you gravitate towards? Do let us know.