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Playing to Win

To succeed in business, your power players must be social, stable and smart, but most of all, they must win.
3 min read

This story appears in the May 2008 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

There are many ways to categorize people and just as many ways to categorize their personalities. I like the following way because it's simple and straightforward. It focuses on four personality types--and I think it describes the cast of characters running around this planet pretty well:

  • I must be liked.
  • I must be comfortable.
  • I must be right.
  • I must win.

For entrepreneurs, the reality is that we need all four types of personalities in a business. One is not better than another, and they typically complement each other within a team. The only hard and fast piece of the formula is the role--and driving personality--of the leader. Let's look more closely at each:

I must be liked
These are the social directors, who want everyone to be happy, especially with them. They are great with personnel and are often the go-betweens when workplace issues arise. However, they tend to avoid conflict and often don't say what needs to be said.

I must be comfortable
These people want job security. They go to work each day and do a good job. You can count on them to show up and do what's asked. But don't expect them to stretch or push themselves. They don't respond well to pressure, stress or tough deadlines.

I must be right
Think attorneys or accountants--the "A students" of the world. These people are strong in their opinions and will defend their ideas to the death. They need to be seen as smart. A key disadvantage is that they are sometimes reluctant to consider other points of view.

I must win
At every successful company, you'll likely find this type in charge. Think Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. These people play to win. The "I must wins" have the drive and tenacity to be the best, biggest and richest.

Are you an entrepreneur whose personal and leadership styles fall into the "I must win" category? If so, you're a leader who will take your company to new levels and marshal all the resources (and personalities) of a team destined for success.

Knowing what motivates and drives you and your employees can also explain your frustrations when you don't see your team performing at full tilt. Are you driven to win, but pushing Mr. "I must be comfortable" to score the touchdown? Perhaps you have Ms. "I must be right" in charge of negotiations and are wondering why strategic alliances get stalled. Too many "I must be liked" yes men, and your business could be doomed to mediocrity.

Managing people is often the hardest part of running a business. Understanding them--as well as yourself, your strengths and what inspires you--is the foundation for long-term growth and success.

Robert Kiyosaki, author of the Rich Dad series of books, is an investor, entrepreneur and educator whose perspectives have changed the way people think about money and investing.

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