To build successful teams, choose your opposites! 

08/03/2023 To build successful teams, choose your opposites! 

Monica Angeli

As a successful team leader who not only met but exceeded her goals, Mónica Angeli’s strategy is to always choose people who aren’t at all like her. 

Ugh! Do I have to work with him/her again?
Many of us have been in a situation where it’s been hard to work with someone. Perhaps you’re hoping that an upcoming one-to-one or team meeting has been canceled, because you’re dreading it. 

It certainly happened to me, years ago, in a sales environment. A team member was due to make a presentation and I knew I was going to completely disconnect. Instead of being interested and using the information as a platform to think about new ideas, I knew I was going to zone out. 

Sound familiar? 

Ongoing friction can fracture effective teamwork
Friction in teams isn’t unusual. It happens all the time. But it’s not always clear why people don’t get along, don’t want to work together, or do their best to avoid interacting. The dynamics between team members can make – or break – your team. 

Perhaps you’re experiencing some “red flag” situations in your team, such as —

All these situations can easily escalate, create a negative working environment and even result in a need for conflict resolution. In a hierarchical situation, it can lead to bad performance reviews and even dismissal. 

After years of working with teams, I’ve learned that 90% of the time it’s not about capabilities. It’s what happens when you don’t approach the person in the right way or give them what they need to do their job.

It’s not you, it’s me
Working successfully in teams starts with you. Gaining awareness of who you are, how you communicate, and what your preferences are in terms of how you approach your work. You may think you know yourself pretty well. But have you taken the time to deeply understand how you like to engage with people, identify your blind spots, and know your communication dos and don’ts?

Perhaps you are data-driven and need all the facts and figures at your fingertips before you’re ready to sit down with your colleagues and discuss next steps. Or perhaps you’re highly creative and you thrive on brainstorming – bouncing ideas off your colleagues in an unstructured manner and seeing what happens.

Maybe you think that putting a data-driven and creative person in the room together is like oil and water – they don’t mix. 

Opposite or complementary?
It may seem that you’re on completely opposite sides of the spectrum. During team dynamic workshops, there’s often an Aha! moment when teams are able to take a step back and see each person’s role as part of a greater whole.

Things change when teams understand that diverse skills actually complement one another – they start appreciating and actively leveraging what each person brings to the table. After all, you have skills they don’t have and vice versa.

Once you bring awareness to your differences in communication and approach, you can sit down and have a productive conversation. It starts by asking questions such as —

When these questions are answered openly and honestly, the team dynamics change completely. It leads to better quality, more effective, and much more complete work – because you have a full perspective of the strengths you and every other team member contributes to the process and output.

Communication and interaction becomes more fluid as teams work towards a common goal, because each person gains awareness of where the other person is coming from. 

That’s what happened in my team all those years ago. The solution was only found when we took the time to understand how each person in the team approached projects. That was the turning point in the relationship. We not only met, but exceeded our targets and received an award for the best regional team.

Small tweaks that make a big difference
Let’s go back to those two people, at opposite sides of the table, still stuck in the same room. How do we meet both their needs and achieve results?

For the creative person, think about three questions you want answered. This will provide some structure without too much detail. This reassures the data-driven person that this isn’t just a waste of time and there will be output from answering the questions.

What they can both do to adapt is be more open-minded to seeing what happens from there. There will be a next step, but it’s unknown at the moment. It means a change of mindset – instead of wanting to have all the information beforehand, to have some information with the reassurance that more information will be given during the meeting. 

For the data-driven person, having all the information may block the creative process. For the more creative person, having a bit of structure channels that energy into something more productive.

Understanding your team’s dynamics, being aware of communication preferences as well as the type of projects and assignments they enjoy most can lead to more effectiveness, better performance, and greater motivation. 

Choose your opposites
When building a team, you don’t need everyone to be like you or do the work like you do.  Bringing diversity into your team — having a variety of people who are focused on different things such as giving structure, defining goals & purpose, looking ahead, finding new ways of doing things, injecting a bit of fun, and looking after the working environment — creates balance.

Today, I always look for people who are completely opposite to me in terms of their preferences in communication and approach to work. I know they will help me be better. 

Mónica Angeli
Success Enabler


Mónica Angeli has trained teams for Google and TikTok, helping them learn how to work together successfully to meet their goals. If you want your team to perform better, talk to us.

Let’s talk

    See our Privacy Policy

    Skip to content