Great Leaders Attract Great Talent

Guest post from
Susanna Camp and Jonathan Littman  

As a leader, you
shape the ideas, provide the direction, set the goals. You’re great at focusing the journey and laying a course, especially when winds are uncertain. It can be
a long, strange trip indeed – and your success depends on attracting the right

Entrepreneurs, corporate
executives and managers know from experience that the best teams sport a rare
mixture of friction, freedom and alignment. Diversity and complementary skill
sets are key. So how do you assemble a great team?

We spent many years
interviewing and writing about talented people and teams for our new book
Entrepreneur’s Faces: How Makers, Visionaries and Outsiders Succeed.
biggest takeaway? Talent comes in many different flavors, and the best startups
and companies recognize the benefits of building a kind of superhuman tensile
strength in their teams.

We call these
talents archetypes. We’ve met so many entrepreneurs that we can usually
identify someone’s type in a few minutes. How do we know? They master
challenges with a characteristic approach, and echo the habits of renowned
innovators and entrepreneurs. What’s perhaps most valuable about understanding
someone’s type is how their behavior plays out in the dynamics of a team. We
all know the conflicts that upend teams. Dueling leaders or visionaries throw
obstacles in the path to success. The opposite happens when you achieve
superior compatibility. A human-centric approach to designing high achieving
teams begins with filling out your squad with a healthy cross-section of talent
and mindsets. And that starts with learning to recognize patterns.

In The
Entrepreneur’s Faces
, we present ten archetypes.  When you build your team, make sure you have
a good mix. Here are the top seven types leaders need to know.

Step One: Start with the
idea generators

 1. The
This is
person who finds novel opportunities in
industries and markets you might
not normally target. They master the “beginner’s mind.” Defy the experts.
  We believe every team needs at least one
Outsider. The global crisis has made this role even more essential. When trends
and habits change overnight, the Outsider is even more attuned to dig up
emerging possibilities.

2. The
The future
is coming, and it helps to have someone on your team who sees its first. This
type brings a different kind of focus, based on their uncanny ability to see
months and years ahead. What makes them so valuable is that they are practical.
They map “from now to then.” They understand how the future will build on
present realities, and start taking key steps to get there.

3. The
This may
sound surprising, but you want someone on your team who will run with ideas
that seem long shots.
Google and many other firms have officially
recognized this entrepreneurial type with a 20 percent or 10 percent rule,
allowing staffers to pursue their own project ideas on company time (this has
led to Gmail, Google Maps, and Google AdSense, among other G-Suite products).
Accidentals bring passion to your company and that energy can be contagious.
The Accidental infuses a project or company with authenticity.

Step Two: Round out the
team with the problem solvers and doers

4. The
It’s key that
your team has someone with an aptitude at finding new ideas and opportunities.
But you need Makers to put them to the test. Makers
dive right in. They
find a way to do an experiment or a test. They’re great at designing prototypes
to provide quick feedback. And they learn fast from small, inexpensive

5. The
leader could use a few Collaborators. They excel at
  analyzing how everyone and everything fits
together. Collaborators keep their own ego in check, knowing they’ll
  rise farther by connecting others and
bridging ideas. They are the glue connecting the whole team.

6. The
Even the best of products and services
need a story to catch fire. Evangelists bring an uncanny ability to fan
interest. They’re naturals at creating the story behind the product, and know
how to strike just the right points to touch hearts and move minds.

7. The
 This is the type that loves a contest and a
challenge. Athletes relish preparing for the… unexpected. During tough times
you couldn’t ask for a more robust, versatile staffer. They love to work.
Adapt, recover, pivot is their mantra. Athletes figure out the connections
between seemingly diverse activities, building new processes and opportunities
on the fly.

Smart Choices Make Strong

Who you choose
depends a lot on the kind of team you want to create. There can be a world of
difference between a startup of four or five individuals and a corporate squad
of ten or more. You’ll also want to consider where you stand on the seven-stage
journey we call the Entrepreneur’s Arc. Are you just getting started at the
Awakening and Shift? Midstream, approaching the Launch, or hitting do-or-die
time, at the Test.

We think you’ll find
these archetypes and this team question of diversity and compatibility
valuable. Building out your team starts with self-awareness. To learn more
about all ten types and take our diagnostic quiz, please visit our website at

Of course, share the
results with your friends and networks!

Jonathan Littman and Susanna Camp are the authors of The Entrepreneurs Faces: How Makers, Visionaries and Outsiders SucceedJonathan Littman collaborated with IDEO on
The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation
(more than 650,000 copies sold worldwide in 12 languages). The author of ten
books, five of his works have been optioned for films. His award-winning
journalism has appeared in Playboy, the LA Times and Forbes. Follow Jonathan on
TwitterSusanna Camp is the Editor-in-Chief of
A journalist specializing in emerging technology, she was an early team leader
Wired magazine, and
has also been on the staff of
Macworld, PCWorld and Outside
magazines. Follow Susanna on