Team Building: Why Can't Idealists Get Along?

Rhonda Goetz

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When team members clash, disaster strikes. Project deadlines are missed, HR referees team members, the boss is angry for a week, and the raises everyone expects vanishes in the face of discord.

Which personality is in charge of rallying the team members? Can’t you tell from the noise? It must an Idealist!


Idealist personalities make up 8-10% of the population and populate sales, psychology, and teachers positions. This personality really likes people.

Idealists are enthusiastic and have a knack for motivating team members. When one walks into the room, the energy level naturally goes up. When you need buy-in, bring in these cheerleaders.

This personality is an expert at stimulating conversation. Put them into a “dead" room and watch it come alive!

An Idealist is easily excitable. This can be a good or bad trait, depending on the circumstance. Although he/she may get the group going, they may end up showing off their impetuous side: talking when they shouldn't, jumping to conclusions, or becoming impatient when decisions aren't made fast enough.

When an Idealist feels their ideas are under attack, they will lash out and attack team players. This behavior ends up creating the opposite effect on the buy-in process.

As a supervisor, Idealists tend to lose focus and frustrate their employees. Employees may receive mixed messages depending on the supervisor's mood or direction. On the other hand, some Idealists inspire and motivate their employees to new heights.

Supervisors can get better performance from an Idealist if they:

  • Encourage him/her to take a breath and think about things
  • Define his/her purpose in the group
  • Speak to them warmly and provide assurance/positive feedback on a regular basis.
  • Ask their advice on employee relations.
  • Remind them that so and so will be making the final decision.
  • Realize that waiting to respond to an issue with an Idealist is better than addressing it immediately. Time is the best ally in confrontation.

    Idealists in Brief

    Value to the Team: Idealists influence people.
    Major Strength: Enthusiastic and motivates people.
    Major Weakness: Impetuous and does not focus on all the facts.
    Communication: Stimulates conversation.
    Emotional Response: Excitable and Emotional.
    Decision Making: Decides quickly and not always with the facts.
    Behavior Under Stress: Idealists, when faced with high levels of stress, will go on the attack.
    Being a Better Team Player: Idealists need to take a breath. Their excitement sometimes takes on a will of its own.

    Idealist Personalities

  • Emily Dickenson
  • Jane Fonda
  • Gandhi
  • Carl Jung
  • Plato
  • Princess Diana
  • Leo Tolstoy

    For more on Teams and Personality, see the fourth article in this series: Team Personalities: Yes! We Can Get Along!

    Rhonda Goetz
    Chrome Zebra, Inc.
    Helping Employers Prevent Employee Lawsuits
    Online Human Resource Training

    Rhonda Goetz is the owner and CEO of Chrome Zebra, an online human resource training company. She also is an authorized harassment and discrimination trainer and online instructional designer.

    Find out how to improve your team's ability to work with each other.
    Get online training customized to your industry.
    Contact Rhonda for more information. Toll free: 866.241.9927

    Her online courses provide businesses with an alternate training method that saves time and money. Employees train at their desks or workstations, and can train anytime. Businesses no longer have to lose production time to large training seminars, or hire expensive consultants or be locked into a set training schedule. Online training is cost-effective as well.

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