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Team Personality Styles and Tessellations

by Sean Glaze, Ed.S. Great Results Team Building

A tessellation is a repeated pattern of a closed shape, arrayed one after the next, with no gaps or overlaps. M.C. Escher is famous for some of his drawings that use tessellations, but at their simplest, a grid of squares or a pattern of interlocking hexagon tiles on a bathroom floor are tessellations.

But this mathematical concept is interestingly like what you want to occur when building successful teams. In constructing teams, you are likely aware of the need to adapt to different personalities and adapt your behaviors and skills to fill in any gaps the team may have.

If your team doesn't have any player over 6'2", somebody will need to adapt their skills and play post - or the team will need to adapt itself to a new offensive system.

For the team to successfully accomplish its goals, each member should be adaptable, ready to interact with other members at any time. The team is an evolving collection of puzzle pieces… and you must adapt according to where your skills fit in best

The "team-building process" is one of learning to identify the shape of your colleagues and adapt yours to accommodate them (and vice versa). The Tessellation example I mentioned provides three key lessons for building better teams.

First, many want to win, but few players are willing to adapt themselves to meet team needs, and so it is a selfish ego and pride that keeps them from finding success!

Knowing your strengths, and knowing that of your teammates, is vital to integrating your collective skills and personalities into a unified and productive whole.

Many people want to win, but only on their terms…

Think of all the great players throughout history who never held a championship trophy because their ego wouldn't allow them to become a small part of something bigger and more significant than themselves…

Great teammates let go of the pride that keeps them from fitting together well.

When somebody asks what your role is on the team, do your shoulders go up?

If so, your playing time (or team's win total) will soon go down…

A second lesson is that, in addition to adapting your skills to fill in gaps, you must also be aware of your personality style and how your teammates' personality style might influence group communications or interactions.

There are a number of team personality styles assessments, and they can often be a powerful tool in identifying personal behavioral strengths or challenges that can affect the teamwork and attitudes in your group.

Some people are more driven leaders and charge toward a goal. Some people are detail oriented and need time to digest information. Some people are emotionally driven, and empathize with teammates as they seek to keep everyone getting along well. Some people are energetic and charismatic, but incredibly impatient and find it difficult to focus at times.

If you have wondered why you or your teammates do what they do, learning about personality styles can be very beneficial. Only after learning about other's personality strengths and challenges can you appreciate and better interact with them in difficult situations without the breakdowns in communication that conflicts of personality styles can cause.

The final lesson tessellations offer is that you can only adapt or change your puzzle piece! When you look at others, do you feel that they are the problem, or do you seek to change yourself and be an influential example?

Sometimes, when we convince ourselves that they are lazy or unhelpful, we are only trying to reinforce our own feeling of value and defend our unwillingness to change…

By choosing to adapt selflessly to be what the team needs, you give others on your team an example to follow…

PEOPLE are not bad or lazy, they are motivated by a different perspective and simply need to be understood and appreciated - and if you can help them see how their behavior may be negatively affecting the team's ability to reach its goals, they may be more willing to join you and adapt their skills as well.

Roles demand that we recognize our strengths, but accept that we cannot do everything well - You can only do your thing well. And teamwork is the result of others doing the same. Your piece of puzzle is important - but successful teams are made up of people who appreciate others for being the piece of the puzzle they need to be to complete the tessellation…

Michael Jordan was an amazing athlete - but he said "I have no individual goals."

"We play for one reason and that's to win the title." "There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and will never win titles," "Most times, these players aren't willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual goals more difficult to achieve."

Great teammates see the big picture - and adapt to the personalities and talent around them.

Early in the season, if the team is not fitting together as well as it should - if your group lacks the team motivation that it needs to perform well together - great teammates will take responsibility for communicating the importance of roles and helping others identify where they fit into the group's "big picture" tessellation… If you want more team leadership ideas, you can follow Sean on twitter. You can also download a free motivational pep talk from his upcoming CD release!


As the founder of Great Results Team Building, it would be my pleasure to inspire your people to work together with increased morale and focus for better team performance.

No matter how large or small your group may be, providing your people a customized fun teambuilding event or motivational speaking engagement will transform your group into a more productive team and equip others to commit to the cause and help lead your team!

Contact Sean:
299 Balmy Ct., Powder Springs, GA

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