In part 1 of this series, we explored what it means to be a ‘Type A’ leader, and how it can be detrimental, both to the individual and the organization. This segment will focus on the positives of having this personality type.
What does being type A versus type B mean to leaders, and most importantly, to your team and organization? If you are a Type A leader in all its glory, what can you learn from a Type B that can make you a better leader?
Here are 5 areas in which you can focus to become more effective in your role:
- Emotions (Go with the Flow). Whether you admit it or not, as a Type A, you are more likely to become agitated when things don’t go your way. You likely find that it is much easier for people to ‘push your buttons,’ and when plans don’t work as you expected, you are more likely to show your displeasure in a verbal and visual way. Yelling, snarky comments, and even facial expressions of disapproval only serve to alienate your team, and ultimately become your ‘legacy.’ Your ability to control your emotions and be more measured in your response to bad news will go a long way to improving the culture of your team.
- Competitiveness (Enjoy the competition, not the win). Competition is healthy and good for the organization. In fact, I would say that incorporating a sense of competition and urgency in your organization is necessary and important. Without it, people become comfortable and lose their drive to improve and succeed. But when competition comes at the expense of the people working in the organization, it can quickly become toxic. Pitting team members against each other, comparing their results in public forums, and focusing on a pecking order amongst the team doesn’t work unless they are all Type A personalities as well. In fact, this can backfire and actually make the team more complacent. Not everyone is motivated the same way, so you have to be sure to adjust your style and level of competitiveness to the individual. Without it, you can come across like the school yard bully who wants to win at all costs. No one likes to play with a bully.
- Organization (Stop overcommitting). Type A personalities are classic multi-taskers. Because of the sense of urgency and desire to win, they take on more than is reasonable, and are more likely to do the work themselves instead of delegating. In fact, multiple studies indicate that multi-tasking (task switching to be more accurate) actually makes you less effective and more prone to error. One studyconducted by Dr. Ira E. Hyman from Western Washington University found that a simple task like talking on the phone while walking significantly reduced a person’s ability to recognize their environment and those around them. In the study, which targeted people who were walking and talking on the phone, researchers placed a clown on a unicycle in the vicinity, then asked them if they noticed it while walking by. Less than 25 percent of those talking on the phone while walking noticed the clown, compared to over 70 percent of those who were walking alone, or walking and talking with a friend. The lesson? If you are Type A, and prone to fill your calendar thinking you can multi-task, you are more likely to miss important details. Reduce your urge to multi-task, and be present in the moment.
- Standards (Learn when ‘good enough’ is good enough). One thing is sure about Type A personalities. They tend to err toward perfection, and their internal drive to compete and win often leads them to think about how they may have done better, or what they can do differently to win next time. Improvement is a great thing, and I encourage everyone to learn from the past. But when the standards are so high that no one can meet them, it can have a negative effect on the individual, as well as the organization he or she leads. It also sets the organization up for frustration and failure. As a Type A, you have to learn when perfection is needed (financials or taking care of patients for example) and when you get can by with good enough.
- Listening (There might just be another way). Another common characteristic of a Type A is the sense that they’ve already figured things out, and that others process too slowly. You’ve likely seen this manifested in the person who is fidgety, and tends to interrupt other people’s thought with nods, ‘uh huh’s and other forms of interruption. Essentially, they are processing things and are trying to send the message that it’s time to move on, and they have a decision in mind. But, as a Type A, it’s critical that you learn to listen closely, and leverage the knowledge of those around you. While speed and impatience might be your hallmark, quick decisions aren’t always in the best interest of you or the team. Taking the time to be more deliberative and thoughtful will only serve to make your team feel heard, and allow you to make a more informed decision.
While this post was focused heavily on the Type A personality, it’s important to point out that Type Bs aren’t perfect either. The tendency to be a bit more thoughtful in approach, and the willingness to accept less than perfection, can send the message to others (especially Type As) that you don’t care, aren’t motivated, and perhaps have lower standards. While it might not be true, as a Type B, it’s important to learn from the Type As in your life and become more action-oriented.
In the end, neither personality type is the “right” type for leadership. It takes all kinds to lead organizations, and the more you can incorporate different styles, attitudes and behaviors, the more likely you will see success.