Entrepreneur Tim O’Leary takes a refreshing look at the different personalities we encounter and how to handle them in his book – Warriors, Workers, Whiners, and Weasels: The 4 Personality Types in Business and How to Manage Them to Your Advantage, and we’re fans. O’Leary proposes that essentially everyone fits into one of four personality groups – Warrior, Worker, Whiner, or Weasel:
- Warriors confront change, see possibilities, innovate, problem solve and manage to win.
- Workers deal with the ups, downs and challenges of everyday working life dependably, and can reliably implement the change and direction established by the Warriors.
- Whiners get through life by complaining about everything they do, they profess negativism and dissatisfaction wherever they go, and blame others for their own shortcomings.
- Weasels lurk everywhere and threaten your career and life-goals through their own deception and insecurity, and spread these feelings quickly throughout an organisation.
The book is designed to help you recognize what group you fit into, give you the necessary tools to get to the group you want to be in, and learn how to effectively deal with people in each group. You might not like what you find about yourself, but you are in control and you can make changes in your life to fit into the group that you desire. Even more interesting (and hilarious) is visualizing the people you know and placing them into their appropriate categories.
We’ve summarised some key points on each personality type O’Leary identifies, a little about how to deal with them or what to do if you’re in a not-so-great group below.
These people are usually a bit… prickly. As leaders they can be charming and inspiring, but will often be seen as aggressively driven, hard to please or domineering. They are excellent salespeople, not just of their product or service but they are excellent at selling themselves to employers, for a promotion or to clients. They believe in themselves, sometimes to the point of arrogance, and know they will achieve their version of success because they take responsibility for their actions and failures.
Successful businesses will have at least one Warrior type, someone who drives growth, forces positive change, tackles issues and fights for the organisation to achieve success. Some organisations may have multiple Warriors, this can either be amazing or an absolute disaster. On one hand, it’s great to know that if a Warrior leaves there won’t be a downturn until they are replaced, but on the other hand there are certain Warriors who will clash head-on with each other like hurricanes converging. It’s important for organisations to ensure their Warrior balance is managed to avoid problems.
These people generally have a healthy balance between work, play and rest. While some Workers may be aspiring Warriors, many are content and take pride in the valuable work that they do. They are the driving force to get things done and good Workers are the support system for successful Warriors.
The backbone of any business is its Workers, with high performing businesses having lots of excellent Workers. O’Leary lists seven types of workers and their motivations, from those who are motivated by the work they produce right through to those focused on the status of their job title. Understanding which type of Worker each employee is within an organisation can help management to utilise the most motivational tools for each type.
Workers don’t need to aspire to be Warriors, because they’re not in any way worth less. So if you recognise yourself as a worker – congratulations, you have mastered work/life balance and are further along the pursuit of happiness than many.
We have all encountered a Whiner. Joe Bloggs who keeps trying to get you to go on strike because the coffee machine sucks? Yep, that’s him. It helps to know what makes them tick and how to deal with them so that they don’t negatively impact your life or your business. They may be competent in their work, however their constant complaining and blaming others for their lack of success can really overshadow any of their positives. Whiners often have many qualities in common with Warriors, but they can’t take responsibility for mistakes and blame others for their failures.
Organisations need to effectively manage or cut out Whiners from their operations like you would with cancer. Sounds a bit extreme? Not really, because the nature of Whiners is to recruit other Whiners and turn impressionable Workers into Whiners, which results in widespread dissatisfaction, negative morale, reduced efficiencies… basically a shit show that you didn’t buy tickets to.
Now you are probably not looking to identify yourself as a Whiner, but if you can dig deep and recognise yourself as fitting in this category, it’s not the end of the world. There are real and attainable changes you can make in your work and personal lives to improve your success and happiness. Almost all of these changes relate to perspective, such as taking a step back to realise success and privilege is not a right, and learning how to take responsibility for your own successes and failures. Remember, a little whine over wine is quite fine – just don’t take it too far.
You probably already know one, that person that is always negative both in and out of work, who can drain every ounce of your positivity. They live in a cloud of insecurity, attack others before they can be attacked and stir up distrust and rumors within an organisation. Often Weasels have great personalities and are talented in their work, which can make it difficult to spot a Weasel from a Worker or aspiring Warrior, but they are not focused on success – they want to see the world burn.
O’Leary uses the analogy of the common cold – you can’t completely eliminate Weasels from business or your life (especially because of the difficulty with recognising them) but you can take precautions to limit how often you have to interact and the damage that they can do.
Suggestions to ‘Weasel-Proof’ your life or business include doing your research on people’s backgrounds, watching out for patterns such as ego pumping or gossiping, remembering your ego is a Weasel’s way in, ensuring you follow the rue that trust must be earned and trusting your instincts when something doesn’t feel quite right.
Combining business and self-help in an interesting way, the book is not a traditional read. One chapter might focus on a self-analysis, the next might be about personal stories from O’Leary’s experiences, and the next about management. If there’s a downside (and it’s not much of one), it’s that O’Leary is so brutally honest that it may piss off some people finding that they fall into the Whiner and Weasel groups. But there are so many useful tools, perspectives and tips to help it’s almost a non-issue for anyone ready to take a step towards their own success.
Warriors, Workers, Whiners, and Weasels: The 4 Personality Types in Business and How to Manage Them to Your Advantage by Tim O’Leary is a must read for every entrepreneur, business owner, manager, and worker wishing to learn more about themselves, take advantage of their best traits, and protect themselves from those who could sabotage their career.