5 Types of Difficult People at Work

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  • People with great skills can still be challenging to manage.
    Here are five types of difficult people and tips for uncovering their strengths:

  • THE MAVERICK: Mavericks push boundaries. While shaking things up can drive creativity, constant changes without a clear purpose can destroy morale. Lead mavericks to bring others with them on their quests to innovate in a way that inspires all.

  • THE CYNIC: Cynics quickly point out the flaws in ideas. They have critical-thinking skills that can benefit businesses, but, if unchecked, their negativity can undermine innovation and morale. Challenge them to improve others’ ideas without tearing them down completely.

  • THE DIVA: Divas think everything should be designed around them. Their confidence and drive can be useful in their own work, but they tend to tear down everything around them. Get divas to use their attention-grabbing skills to promote the overall organization.

  • THE DREAMER: Dreamers’ ideas are clouds in the sky that float away before anyone can use them. Their lofty thoughts can spark real innovation, but dreamers aren’t interested in the details of implementation. Coach them to make their idea clouds rain with new products and processes.

  • THE UNLEADABLE: Some people perceived as “unleadable” are driven by their own ideas rather than their boss’s. Because they will relentlessly pursue their personal vision, give them a challenging mountain to climb without dictating how they should get to the top.

  • Slideshow content source: Alan Willett, author of Leading the Unleadable: How to Manage Mavericks, Cynics, Divas and Other Difficult People (AMACOM, 2016)

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