Managing Challenging Personalities

In sports, team chemistry is crucial to success. Its leader (head coach) must set the tone by articulating its vision, defining what success looks like, clarifying roles and creating the culture. Taking these steps – and getting everyone on board – goes a long way in helping establish the foundation. When a team is accomplishing its goals and “winning”, the coach’s job is easy.

How about when things aren’t going as well? This is where team dynamics become crucial to handling adversity.

We have identified three especially challenging personalities in team sports who –if not properly managed – may destroy team dynamics. Read our personalities, as well as our suggestions for handling.



Definition – someone who is interested in being the center of attention; willing to make “off color” (borderline) and potentially inappropriate comments to get a laugh or reaction, even if it is at the expense of others.

Warning Signs – “Jokester” interrupts business conversation or redirects it. S/he leads gossip and rumors.

How to Handle – address the behavior when it occurs. Articulate what is (and is not) acceptable. Hold the team responsible and accountable for managing workplace dynamics.


“Rule Breaker”

Definition – someone who feels that s/he can cut corners or do things differently because the rules don’t apply to her/him; disregard for what’s expected can be subtle or blatant.

Warning Signs – “Rule Breaker” becomes complacent or arrogant because of skillset and expertise. S/he questions policies or procedures, or sees them as unnecessary.

How to Handle – Show consistency in how you manage performance and communicate expectations. The same rules apply to everyone, regardless of one’s role.



Definition – someone who does not do their part to help the team (“social loafer”). This person is willing to let others pick up the slack.

Warning Signs – “Laggard” does not turn work in on time, fails to take the lead on projects and/or take ownership of their responsibilities.

How to Handle – Explain expectations and ramifications for not “pulling one’s weight”. Document shortfalls and manage performance as it occurs.

A crucial component to managing challenging personalities is understanding yourself. By that, we mean what is your Coaching Style, Decision-Making Style and general preferences in leading, coaching and managing others? If you want to learn more, email us at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *