Austria     Belgium     Brazil     Canada     Denmark     Finland     France     Germany     Hungary     Iceland     Ireland     Italy     Luxembourg     The Netherlands     Norway     Poland     Spain     Sweden     Switzerland     UK     USA     

Castles by Ants – Episode 16: A General Description of the Supporter Type

An ongoing series about psychology in the world of sport.

We can safely say that the perception of the Supporter type has been, to this day, the most misunderstood in sport. Basically, most assume that athletes can only be successful if they have above-average abilities, and of course, they can summon them when needed. Therefore, it is a huge disappointment if our team fails in the final of an important world competition or just underperforms. It’s oil on fire in the eyes of the fans if the coaches and professionals dare to “defend” themselves by saying that the athletes could not bear the psychological load! How could they not? After all, athletes are superheroes who are different from the average person because no “ordinary” psychological issues influence their performance. Otherwise, how could I, a fan, look up to them? That is why the average person typically associates athletes with the Ruler type, who are able to provide their best in the most important situations. Of course, this does not mean athletes can have big egos. They have to live their lives humbly, because if they dare to confidently state before a major tournament that they want to win it, then they won’t be so likeable; on the other hand, the same fan demands this exact same type of confidence on the pitch. That is, in the minds of the average fan, the real athlete is both a Ruler — who peaks at the best time — and a Supporter — who is empathetic, humble, and pays attention on their fellow human beings. Athletes try to play both roles, but they are crippled after a while as this personality modification destroys their performance. We are going to dissect this process in a later section about teambuilding and “selling” the team’s results to the outside world, remember this well! For a long time, this myth has lived in the minds of the best coaches, and a few decades ago, team sports favoured far more the proactive types over the passive personalities. That is, the Ruler and Individual players were overrated, and the Supporter and Expert players were neglected. Those national teams that have been able to move beyond this problematic thinking have gained a huge advantage in team sports over the past decade or so.

The Supporter type is an empathic, people-oriented, emotional character that often puts their own interests behind those of others. They are also called as the “Follower” personality type, because it is very important for them to follow social expectations and “the crowd”. What suits most people is definitely good for them. They are cautious when building relationships; they generally do not like new things or relationships, which is why it is difficult to start in new directions. However, once the first steps of a relationship are made, they genuinely care about friends, acquaintances, people in general, and of course family members. They are afraid of new things, and it is especially important for them to force the routine, the things they already know. In most cases, this limits their development in business. A true Supporter does not have much of a Ruler factor, which means that the biggest challenge in their lives is to assert their own interests. They are the ones who can be ignored and pushed into the background, and this won’t bother them for a long time. They do not like to take responsibility for decisions and are usually labelled as indecisive people, which is generally true when they start to move in new directions. But it is far from true when it comes to a family member’s problem. In this case, the Supporter is considered to be the most proactive type. That’s why I never liked the Ruler personality type to be called “dominant”, as Supporter characters are typically good examples of people that can become dominant in certain situations. The Supporter is easily influenced, and this feature can ruin their lives. They have trouble selecting the people around them, so unfortunately in most cases, such people can stay close to them that affect them negatively. They are easily taken advantage of, and are often grateful for this, because they feel that a strong “goodwill” helps them make decisions. Thanks to their extraordinary empathy, they understand people, their thinking, and their problems. They want to help their fellow human beings, so they don’t feel good when the people around them are unhappy. Supporters tend to be pessimistic and afraid without any reason. Because the situation is always evaluated emotionally and never objectively, their perceptions and decisions depend greatly on the people around them and on social expectations. They don’t want to be conspicuous, and this goal is present in every part of their lives. They don’t want to wear ostentatious clothes, and they don’t want a brand-named car or expensive, unique watches or phones. Things that are useful, proven, and cheap are best. It is important for them to have confidence in the products they buy, but unfortunately advertisers know this very well, so the trust is often misplaced. They are generally considered to be slow people. Especially in unfamiliar situations, as they are extremely careful. They typically think that it is better not to decide at all than to make an imperfect decision by accident. This freezes them throughout their lives. Other types often criticise them for not having needs. But they really don’t. The average, everyday things make Supporters perfectly happy, and others need to accept this. For them, money is only important for building a safe background. If you have ever heard a story about a millionaire who lived modestly and drove a ten-year-old car, then you probably heard about a rich Supporter.

Many people in business and sport do not hire this type for decision-making positions. There were huge misconceptions about their abilities, especially in managerial roles. Many have stated that a Supporter is not capable of leading. Yet, when one looks around at the richest people in the world, they have always been well-represented among the leaders of the world’s most successful companies. It is true that in the majority of cases, they did not appear to be Supporters, because, precisely due to the stigma towards Supporters, they learned early on that they have to play the role of a Ruler to obtain a better position. As a leader, like in the case of other personality types, one needs to know their limits. Do not try to build new businesses with them. Do not expect them to energise a flagging operation. But when it comes to keeping a company together via people-oriented management of an existing organisation, they are vital. Supporters are very persistent and can handle huge workloads. We should not be misled by the fact that they complain often. They like to complain, it is in their nature. And since they truly feel that they are right when sharing their fears with others, we can’t change these characteristics, we just have to accept it. They are considered to be the most loyal personality type, and this is partly due to their disdain for change. They can accept many negatives, but once their glass is full and they go past their breaking point, then the situation is no longer salvageable. Because of their loyalty and stability, they can be a fundamental pillar of a company, and we can plan an ongoing business with their presence.

Next episode

Castles by Ants – Episode 17: The Private Life of the Supporter Type

Prev episode

Castles by Ants – Episode 15: The Individual Athlete