Success for an IT leader requires mastering a wide range of skills. One must have technical acumen and business savvy, be a great communicator and problem-solver, and know how to secure funding and capitalize on it.\n\nBut getting the most out of IT staff and unleashing synergies among IT teams is among the more underappreciated skills an IT leader must have to optimize their organization\u2019s efforts. And for that you must develop an uncanny knack for relationship management and an understanding of how differing personalities can enforce and work with one another to great effect.\n\nAfter all, IT brings together a diverse range of personalities, from statisticians, mathematicians, and developers who are rooted in the rigors of computer science, to liberal arts majors who might just as soon be writing a novel if it could pay the bills.\n\nSo, how do you as an IT leader unify these wide-ranging personalities into a cohesive project team?\n\nThe short answer is that you don\u2019t try to change anyone. Instead, you seize on common goals most team members have: To see success, feel good about the work they do, and contribute in ways that play to their strengths \u2014 while avoiding what they find off-putting or unproductive.\n\nRelationship management in action\n\nMastering this, of course, isn\u2019t easy. For IT team leaders and CIOs, it can require as much psychology as it does skills matching when you build a project team. And for all the talk of skills balance in team creation, chemistry among the personalities involved \u2014 their relationships and ways of bringing their best selves to the tasks at hand \u2014 are more often than not the key to unlocking synergies otherwise hidden within your teams.\n\nHere is an example: Let\u2019s say you are developing a retail sales system that will be used in Europe and the US. The European countries charge a value-added tax (VAT) to goods, while the US uses a sales tax that varies by state. In Europe, VAT taxes also vary by country, so you have business analysts working with end users on screen formats and process flows for sales order entry, and so on, but you also have an IT infrastructure programmer on board to develop a callable, internal tax calculator module that can apply the correct VAT or sales tax rate to a given transaction based on the applicable country or US state involved.\n\nIn our example, the infrastructure programmer normally works \u2014 and prefers to work \u2014 on her own. Her domain is pondering and developing highly complex technical work, and if she doesn\u2019t talk to anyone in a day, it\u2019s preferable.\n\nYou understand this, so to limit this individual\u2019s time on the \u201cpeople\u201d side of IT, you assign QA to the quality assurance team, as well as to the business analyst and end user involved in the project. If for some reason there is a problem with the tax calculator module, it is the IT-savvy business analyst, who can speak the infrastructure programmer\u2019s language, who engages with her on any needed changes.\n\nThis example sounds straightforward, but it emphasizes something subtle about relationship management that goes beyond roles-based working arrangements. Contrary to development methodologies like agile, here you\u2019re not trying to engage the entire project team on every phase of the project. What you are doing is taking account of everyone\u2019s preferred mode of performance so they can do their best work.\n\nPutting personality to work\n\nI\u2019ve talked to other CIOs about scenarios like this, asking them whether they take staff personalities into account when establishing work processes. Many counterargue, saying, \u201cWe don\u2019t think about personalities. But we end up running our projects that way anyway, because we don\u2019t want our most expensive infrastructure programmers wasting their time in user meetings.\u201d\n\nTouch\u00e9. But there is also an ingredient in project team staffing that should take into account the natural synergies between people. And this requires learning about the individual personalities on your team.\n\nAmong the personality types I have encountered when leading IT organizations, these are the most prevalent:\n\nI have also seen destructive personality types \u2014 like the technical guru who becomes a prima donna that everyone caters to, and decides which projects they will support, and which ones they won\u2019t.\n\nI first encountered this personality type during my first IT project management job at a software company. My project was competing with other projects in the company for this database expert\u2019s attention, and she kept stalling my project because she preferred to work on the projects of more senior managers. Day by day, I watched my project timelines slip because we couldn\u2019t get data schemas updated. I finally solved the dilemma by using a much more junior person on my project team to do the work. Mistakes were made and the work got done slower, but it got done.\n\nWhat I learned was that as IT leaders, we don\u2019t always have the luxury of placing the right people in the roles that best suit them. But the more we can be as sensitive to personalities as we are to skillsets, the more cohesive our projects will be, and the happier team members will be in their work.\n\nHow are you accounting for relationship management in your IT team makeup and collaboration practices?