Teaming a Dream

There’s no doubt anyone who has started their working life would have been in a team. All working together towards common goals, experiencing the inner workings and politics that hold them in place. It’s a common situation worldwide, but has anyone ever noticed how some teams from the biggest companies in the world seem to mesh so well? Companies that bring in high talent individuals, who manage to churn out the biggest innovations and services to the world stage and earning the company billions in revenue. Sometimes when you have so many highly talented individuals in a team… clashes in opinions and viewpoints happen. Individuals will often opt for their point of view and getting others to see the same. That is often termed as individual ego.

How well does one control that ego?


Everyone has an ego. It’s their sense of self and belief, their sense of reality and pride. An ego is often selfish to a degree, it can’t be denied because even people working collectively is working for the benefit of oneself too. An ego can be big or small, it can be kind and nurturing or destructive. Destructive and big egos are arrogant, it doesn’t genuinely care for the point of view of others and downright volatile to opposers.

Flashback to fifteen years ago, to the memories of a person I used to work with. A loud-mouthed individual who would publicly berate and shame anyone whom he dislikes or believes to have crossed him. At a point in time, I was even publicly accused of being a politician because I’m often too quiet in the office. I often wondered back then how someone could conclude another as a politician when they were quiet and not at all, influential…. Someone who wouldn’t even partake in office pantry gossips. Perhaps all the politicians he knows doesn’t speak publicly in rallies, and has great influence despite rarely talking to people. I simply had to applaud his astute observations.

More than a decade later I have the unholiest luck of having to work with the same person again. Humans are flexible and adapt to strategies, and this time around he uses more covert strategies. Amongst other things, I would be accused of being a hacker when I could figure out some of the things they were secretly talking about behind my back. (Read further to find out more). It dawned on me then when people aren’t open to discussions with the accused, their truth is all they care about. When an individual or collectives’ action are not meant to resolve problems or differences, in turn causing dissent and disharmony to an individual or more. That’s often a destructive ego at play. That’s what can be coined as ‘destructive office politics’.

Dream Team

I thought to myself, is it really me that’s the problem? I mean, if it happens often enough then it might be me. Yet, throughout my time working in certain companies, I have met teams that I have worked with harmoniously, whom I could really put my trust in. A racially diverse and talented team of individuals who gathered topics that were inspiring to the youth and to me as a Graphic Designer. They trusted me with art direction and allowed me the freedom to create . On top of daily tasks, we would produce our best pullouts week after week. Some in the team would even advise and help me on eliminating technicalities I failed to see, and I in turn would try to help point out any misspellings and discrepancies I found. What else do you call that but real teamwork?

Youth Speak 67. Click here to view more.

One of them, a Copywriter. A dark-skinned wheelchair-bound woman, who’s very creative in writing. With just a title she came up with “Today vs Technology”, she could fuel my imagination of what the theme and page should be like. I immediately imagined a technological war within ourselves in modern society upon reading the content. They were a true dream team whom I liked and trusted, I was truly happy! They were people who made me look forward to the next issue for the coming week. There were no destructive egos within this group… it was mostly kind and calm energies I felt. Unfortunately… being me, I have failed to convey my feelings of trust and liking for them back then. Nevertheless, they were a team I’m proud to have shared my name in the credits with. Despite the odds and obstacles placed in front of us by certain decision makers, we managed to produce a good run of pullout issues that I treasure forever.

The question now is… why would people be harmonious and friendly to some but yet be destructive to others? Mostly… it’s down to insecurity and fears. The preservation of self, rumours as well as the identification and creation of an ingroup vs outgroup. Toxicity in workplaces can permeate from bottom up or vice versa, a lot of times due to unhealthy competition, the perception of rewards inequality and the intentional disruption of other teams. Essentially…. It’s workplace culture. We have now identified that workplace culture is a determining factor but is it all as simple as that? Perhaps not…

An interesting insight into evolution and human behaviour.


I recall my days as a kid, how often I felt different from the other kids in the neighbourhood. As an only child, I couldn’t help but notice the immediate difference between us. They were highly social and often got together to play, making lots of noise outside. I would at times be called out to play as well to join in their fun and games. Hopscotch, water battles and Super Soakers, dodgeball and such. After sometime it would occur less often, as I wasn’t that particularly outgoing as compared to them, mostly just preferring to imagine superhero scenarios in my room, fighting the bad guys and playing with toys and video games on my own. This particular personality trait of Introversion hasn’t really left me even at my current age.

Many years back, while trying to understand more about myself and the people around me, I read up a ton on Psychology. Basically anything I could find that explains human behaviour and the pains I faced. I came across one particular personality test, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Being curious, I tried out the online test, not once but twice. I answered as honestly as I could, based on present and past. Both times it indicated me either as an INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Prospecting) or INFP ( Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Prospecting). I couldn’t confirm which. A year later I gave the test another go, and it resulted in either INFP or INTP, which I forgot.

Both are actually almost identical types except that INFPs are more driven by personal values and feelings as opposed to logic in INTPs. So I could conclude that I am a INFP. INFPs are known to be more of a feeling type that also uses intuition and logic a lot to make sense of particular situations. It makes sense now as I would often observe and absorb moments I experience and rewind the memories without losing any detail, then analyse them in my own private time. Sometimes I don’t need as much clues or input to figure out the bigger picture as I often read people’s emotions and temperament quite well. That’s where the accusations of me being a hacker came from… I would figure out what’s going on and and people I confide in would in turn repeat it back to them, then they would all start being really quiet around me. Though my intuition and analysis may not be 100% accurate all the time but when it’s accurate , it gets scary accurate. Despite me being rather quiet and reserved, I actually feel a lot deep down inside and only really close friends and family could see that in me. Although flexible, I have always found certain personality types that I am fully comfortable with. They were often like-minded as well as open-minded, non political or volatile.

Types and characteristics defined.


So how does personality types and tests fit in with an organisation…? As discussed above.. sometimes it just takes some bad apples who are at odds with one another to ruin a team or even a whole company. The wrong fit can prevent the best talents from performing to their best potential. Not to say personality is set in stone. It can be flexible too and people sometimes go out of character as strategies to cope with situations they are facing, but usually at a cost. It’s up to management to determine or fix the culture within but it’s also up to a company’s management to fit the puzzles together. When they mistakenly or knowingly place the wrong cogs together, they just won’t turn smoothly or turn at all. Ill-fitting cogs eventually crack or break. Depending on which country, it turns out that 80% of Fortune 500 companies employ the MBTI tests to match employee personalities for winning teams.. and it is still being used now. Other companies like Facebook have used some other form of tests and indicators. Though there are more accurate and fluid tests like the Big Five that has gained more credibility than MBTI, there’s no denial how these companies are still using it and manage to churn out talents that makes the company what it is… Fortune 500. Even though something may not be 100% accurate but manage to bring the understanding gap so much closer. Isn’t it worth considering?