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4  Personalities Make Up A Dream Team
Psychological Profile 1:  The Giver

People are the fire that lights the engine of your success; they are the critical component that can make or break an organization, a team or professional practice.  Holly Regan, Managing Editor of Software Advice and psychiatrist Dr. James Maynard have some great research around building dream teams.  Research speaking to four different psychological types that make up dream teams:   The Giver, The Matrix Thinker, The Savant and The Champ 

Givers Are A Critical Component of Every Dream Team-They Are The First Lieutenants, The Top Managers.  At home, this may mean being an attentive spouse, a thoughtful parent or a helpful roommate who puts others’ needs ahead of their own.  At work, their overarching mission is to give to the company, and they put the company and their co-workers head of themselves.  They work hard and go above and beyond.

Givers are great lieutenants, and they can be exceptional leaders, but many tend not to want to lead the cavalry. They do best when they’re taking their marching orders from someone else and representing that person or organization. They may be good leaders, but they typically don’t want to be the boss.

It’s important for givers to have developed their “people skills”, in particular, their ability to handle criticism and see another person’s point of view with the intention of resolving problems. An immature Giver personality type may struggle to communicate effectively because they do not want to speak up, rock the boat and cause waves.

What Qualities Do Givers Have?

Here’s a quick breakdown of how most Givers rank for certain key qualities:

Rating (out of 5 stars)

Who Are Some Famous Givers?

Here are some famous Givers throughout history, grouped by level of maturity:

More Mature
Less Mature

Mother Teresa
Saint Jude Thaddeus

Nelson Mandela
Joan of Arc

Melinda Gates
Greg Mortenson

A mature Giver personality type has learned to develop his/her people skills and developed a degree of independence and empowerment that does not make them hostage to the opinions of others or make communication and independence a problem.  The immature Giver can lose him/herself in the pursuit of serving others, while the mature Giver personality type will be able to hold his/her own.h

Mother Teresa is the Giver poster child: she had the people skills and the streak of independence necessary to found her own religious congregation, while in greater service of the Roman Catholic Church. Saint Jude is another Christian and Catholic icon; however, as the patron saint of lost causes, he kept giving in the face of hopelessness and lost his life.

Nelson Mandela sacrificed 27 years in prison for the South African anti-apartheid movement, and succeeded in becoming the country’s first black president; Joan of Arc, on the other hand, fought for French independence but died a martyr long before it was won.

Bill Gates spearheaded many successful charitable campaigns for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; while Greg Mortenson has also founded charities, he has been accused of financial misdeeds and was court-ordered to repay $1 million in contributions.

What Makes Givers Great?

Givers possess some powerful characteristics that make them great employees:

  • They’re loyal. There tends to be lower turnover among Givers: their investment in a company is personal, so they often don’t want to leave. They’re not focused on looking for the next best thing—they’re focused on making this thing the best it can be. They want to make the right decisions at every turn for the company, not just for their own career.
  • They give it their all. Givers are the type of people you’ll often find coming in early and staying late. They have an innate motivation to give 110 percent and perform to the very best of their abilities because they genuinely want to help the company and their co-workers.
  • They’re team players. Since Givers put others first, they make great team members. They’re not looking to get ahead for themselves; they’re looking to advance the company and the team as a whole. Whether they’re in a leadership role or not, they want to work with others to help the organization achieve its goals.
  • They play by the rulesGivers tend to be strict rule-followers: They believe in the company’s regulations and their importance, so they’re very by-the-book. Their personal investment in the company means that if they do break the rules, they’re extremely disappointed in themselves. Ensuring your company’s rules are fair is always crucial, and when you have Givers on staff, this becomes even more important.

What Challenges Do They Face?

Just as givers have characteristics that make them great, their personality traits also lend them some unique challenges; challenges that mature Givers can learn to overcome! 

  • Confrontation. Givers tend not to like confrontation; even if they disagree with someone, it’s rare that they’ll go to battle over it, as this type of interaction is very demoralizing for them. However, this timorousness can lead to Givers’ valid concerns going unheard, or too problematic behavior on the part of other employees going unaddressed. It may also manifest itself as passive-aggressiveness in less mature Givers.
  • Tunnel vision. Givers in management positions lead by example—but they may not inherently understand what motivates most people because it’s not what motivates them. They may work very long hours and not expect much in return, but the people who report to them will likely not feel the same. Thus, Givers can sometimes overlook what the team needs—and their teams may start to lose members several years in, if too much is being expected out of them.
  • Burnout. Everyone has a breaking point: Because they put the company and their co-workers first, Givers can take on so much extra work that they burn out. Since they also tend to suffer silently, keeping their frustrations private, you’ll have to look out for your Givers and ensure they aren’t overworking themselves.

How Do Givers Perform in Key Roles?

Here’s a quick look at which roles Givers are most, and least, suited for:

What They’re Good At
What They’re Not So Good At
Marketing Strategy
Software Development
Executive Support
Customer Service

Which Roles Are Best for the Giver Personality Type?

The characteristics shared by Givers make them well-suited for certain workplace roles, including:

  • Centralized or “headquarters” rolesGivers are energized and fulfilled by the interactions they have with the company they serve and the co-workers they serve alongside. This means that, in many cases, they’re not the remote office type. They do their best work in-person at company headquarters, where they can physically be part of the team.
  • “Producer” roles. Givers tend to do well in roles where they’re producing something tangible that benefits the company: for example, in development, operations or marketing. Whether it’s a piece of marketing content or a complete website, they are fulfilled by the material fruits of their labor.
  • Customer service. In a customer service role, givers can really thrive, because they are taking care of people directly—benefiting both the customer and the company in one fell swoop. They strive to solve problems diplomatically and to leave everyone satisfied at the end of an interaction.

Which Roles Should They Avoid?

While Givers excel in certain positions, they aren’t a good fit for every role. Some of these include:

  • Sales. In most cases, Givers are too focused on the needs of others to excel in sales roles. They tend not to have the twinge of ego or the competitive edge that a good salesperson needs to be really successful.
  • Customer service roles involving a high level of customer dissatisfaction. While Givers can be some of your best customer service employees, they may not do well if they have to deal with a high frequency of dissatisfied customers (e.g., they should probably not man the complaint line). Givers can become especially disheartened by customers who are angry or belligerent: if they do have to work with these customers, you’ll need to have a solid escalation process in place.
  • C-suite executive roles. While Givers can ascend high in your organization, you should think carefully about whether they would be a good fit for a C-suite executive position: e.g., CEO or COO. A small, healthy dose of narcissism is typically correlated with the ambitious nature of those who reach the level of CEO—which Givers tend not to have. Typically, they will pair up with someone who does aspire to that level, and serve as the right-hand man; they tend to prefer this to striking out on their own.

How Do You Identify a Giver in an Interview?

During the interview process, there are certain approaches you can take to identify whether or not a candidate is a Giver:

  • Start the interview in a warm, relaxed manner. If you’re interviewing a salesperson, the candidate will tend to be very up-front and take control of the interview. If you’re interviewing a Giver, however, they won’t have this sort of drive—so you should start the interview in a warm, relaxed manner that makes the candidate feel comfortable about opening up to you.
  • Use behavioral interviewing techniques. To determine whether a candidate is a Giver, ask for examples of key characteristics in his or her professional life. Sample questions include: “Tell me about a time where you stayed late or worked extra hours to get something done for the company,” or “tell me about a time you went above and beyond for your employer.” You can also seek examples in their personal life, such as taking care of a sibling or grandparent or asking how their friends would describe them.
  • Ask about past conflicts, and gauge the candidate’s maturity. Have candidates provide examples of how they handled workplace conflict or situations where they needed to communicate with their manager about an issue. You can gauge whether they’re conflict-averse by their responses. Keep in mind that mature Givers will have learned to go against their nature and speak up about potential problems because they know it’s in everyone’s best interest.
  • Go in-depth with references. If you’ve been given strong references, try to go in-depth with them to identify whether giving comes naturally to the candidate. Ask for detailed examples of the candidate going the extra mile for the company, being altruistic towards co-workers or working long hours to get a project done.

What Should You Do As an Employer?

After you’ve hired Givers onto your staff, there are certain things you’ll need to do as an employer to ensure that the team runs smoothly:

  • Be careful with feedback. Givers thrive so much on doing the right thing that criticism can be very damaging to them. Be careful when providing feedback: ensure that any criticism you have is constructive, and try to balance it with positive feedback, too. A more mature Giver will be better able to have honest conversations and take feedback, even if it isn’t positive—so gauge their maturity independent of their personality type when speaking to them.
  • Take care of them. Because they’re unlikely to put themselves first, you, as an employer, need to look out for your Givers. Keep in mind their career progression, compensation and job satisfaction; they won’t be inclined to speak up about these things, even if they are displeased. And keep in mind that there’s a lot of value in doing things for your Givers, as they tend to be very appreciative when you do.
  • Encourage open dialogue. Givers tend to keep their frustrations and struggle to themselves—so encourage open dialogue. Ask if there is anything they are frustrated within the workplace or if they have any suggestions for improvement: they’ll be more inclined to speak up if they can put a positive spin on their criticism or complaints. And again, the more mature they are, the easier this will come to them.

Givers can be a very valuable addition to your staff—just make sure you look out for them, and they’ll be loyal to you in return. Of course, you can’t staff your office entirely with Givers; a mix of other personality types is needed to complement them and to balance out your Dream Team. In my next post, I’ll discuss another distinct psychological profile: the Champ (and the Chip).

Holly Regan and Dr. James Maynard contributed to this article.
Image by Holly Regan.


Stayed tuned for the second installment of this 4 part series, The Matrix Thinker