Home > Team Leadership > The extreme IT personalities and how to lead around them.

The extreme IT personalities and how to lead around them.


Everyone has heard of the COWBOY Programmer, the personality of someone does what they want even though they are working on a team. Sometimes it is difficult to see if this person is a COWBOY Programmer – one with an overloaded ego, vs. one with high self-esteem. Kent Beck said in his XP Explained book you should avoid this type of personality.   There are a few other types of people that are not as easy to spot but can impact your project just a much.




Description of personality:
Lack of self-esteem, lack of ego. Person may appear to be very humble but without self-esteem, it’s not humility, it’s a person who needs to be externally liked and will allow others to step on them without complaint.

Signs of a doormat personality:

  • Can not say no to anyone. Leads to a sense of being overwhelmed
  • Tend to think that asking for help from others will burden others – so the person waste time trying to find the answers yourself with potential risks to your schedule.

What to do if your the leader of the team:

Since this person tends to feel horrible if they can not help anyone that asks for help, you have to place expectations on that person yourself. Keep an eye on the persons tasks and make sure they are getting things done. Help the person stick to his/her priorities. You will have to make more decisions with this type of personality then you may want, if you want them to stay on track. Since they struggle with getting things done (for everyone) you will have to decide what comes first-second-third-ect.     Having this person work in paired programming can be very productive, especially  if teamed with an Organizer.

Opposite of a Doormat: THE MARTYR



Description of personality:

Person tends to have a nepotism style personality. The way I summarize this is: “Everything is about me… the world is against me”.  The person does what ever they can to make sure the customer understands they are taking care of them, even if the person has to sacrifice for the customer,  but if the person does not get the credit/props for the effort, they will get resentful and make sure everyone knows about it. 

Signs of a martyr personality:

  • Accepts tasks only if they can get public credit for the work
  • Gets resentful if their effort are not recognized or when other users get more credit for the work done.

What to do if your the leader of the team:.

This personality can ruin a positive team very quickly. This personality tends to be best used in a business analyst role and testing. I always ask my developers to always say ‘Thank you’ to their testers. This satisfies the martyrs need to be the hero but ensures that they do not bring that resentful negative personality to the customer.

Opposite of a Martyr: THE DOORMAT

More to come…




Categories: Team Leadership
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