Hunters, farmers and bureaucrats: Balancing personality types for team success

I was fortunate enough to have dinner recently with Nobel Prize winning economist Myron Scholes and we talked about the kind of people an organization needs to succeed.

We discussed the mistake leaders often make of focusing too narrowly on skills when it comes to hiring. While skills are important, it’s also critical to recruit with personality types in mind.

Scholes described three personality types critical to the success of an organization, whether it be financial or otherwise: hunters (sometimes known as warriors), farmers and bureaucrats. Hunter/warrior types are fierce. They are ready to pursue a goal aggressively, and are always mentally in attack mode. Farmers are better at teamwork. They take the long view of any situation. Finally, bureaucrats – or government – are the ones who hold it all together. Bureaucrats are the individuals who manage disparate forces and keep the hunters’ instincts in check. They apply a framework. They are critical to harmonize a sizable organization.

As Scholes spoke, I found his perspective very familiar, as Japan as a whole also needs to balance these elements. We are a rice farming country at heart, and are known for our strengths when it comes to teamwork, but when it comes time to rapidly grow our economy, we need hunter/warriors to step up. And we need the government to balance the needs of our farmers with the needs of our hunters.

In an organization, it’s important to understand these different personality types so you can be sure you have the right balance in your workforce. Today at Rakuten we face a new era of intense competition in the internet world. We need our hunter/warriors but at the same time we must ensure our farmers are also functioning optimally and our spirit of teamwork is alive and well. To be successful, we must understand the people we already have on the team, who we need to complement their strengths, and how to gather them all into one harmonious force.

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