There are 5 P's in Team

In this article, I want to delve into one key factor of leadership, team management and culture. Specifically, learning to understand the people in your team.

The quality of leadership within a team is a make or break factor in people’s happiness and engagement, and by extension, the culture you’re trying to create. This should be obvious; people are at the centre of your culture and so it’s important to understand and adapt to the needs of your team.

As you look around your office, your sports club or any team you happen to be a part of, you’ll notice that there are a huge variety of personalities in the room. What you might not know is, there are other factors that might shape the way you perceive those personalities.

When studying leadership, there are five groups you might place members of your team in. These are the 5 Ps.



Participants are people who are motivated, enthusiastic and helpful.

They will actively get involved in tasks, help you to come up with ideas and generally make your life easier.



Protesters are moaners, nay-sayers and the type of people who are convinced “we’re never going to get this done.”

They’re more likely to get in the way than to actually make progress toward your goals. They need regular reminders about goals and milestones.



Passengers are your “grey people.” There — but not particularly notable.

They’re present, but not particularly useful. Involved, but won’t help generate ideas. They’ll do what you need them to do, but not a lot more.



Prisoners are not part of the team by choice. They feel trapped or coerced into being there.

They will do the bare minimum required and even less if they can get away with it.



Pigs are only in it for themselves.

They’ll only get involved and do something if it’s going to benefit them personally.

As a leader, you have to carefully balance the needs of the task at hand, your team and the individuals within it. In order to properly look after the needs of the team and your people, it’s vital that you understand the personality types within your team and their current state of mind. You can’t hope to lead a group of people if you don’t know what their motivations are.

A good leader will adapt their leadership style when working with each member of their team to get the best results from them. Leadership and management can never take a “one size fits all” approach and will only succeed if you understand and adapt to the individuals you’re working with.

It is possible for one individual to fall into more than one of the groups above at the same time, for example, a pig is often also a protester. The group an individual falls into can change based on who is leading the team, the task to be achieved or something in their personal life that is affecting them at the time.

Most importantly, your leadership style can help members of your team to move between groups.

With the wrong leadership style, it’s very easy to push someone who would normally be a participant toward one of the less productive groups. If someone feels like you don’t care about their needs, or that you don’t listen to their ideas, they’ll very quickly stop caring about the task you are trying to achieve.

The good news is, with good leadership you can bring people back and get them on side.

  • Listen and collaborate — Give your team a voice and a chance to share their ideas. You might not always be able to implement them, but at least your team feel heard.

  • Sell, don’t tell — Explain to your team your plan, sell its strengths and help them buy into it. Avoid a “do as I say” or “my way or the highway” approach to managing people.

  • Follow through on things — Don’t make promises you can’t keep. If you tell your team you’re going to do something, actually do it.

  • Develop a culture of trust— Trust your team. Trust that they know what they’re doing and allow them to get on with what you delegate to them. Be trustworthy, be honest and work with integrity. Don’t give your team a reason to doubt your motivations.

I’d love to hear your experiences with managing a mix of personalities with your teams, especially any success stories of bringing people back from a bad place!