January – Type A Managers for the New Year?

For those of you who were in my recent management six part webinar or have read my books and emails, you will recall my goal for your organization is to build your staff to have “A” employees and gradually shift “B” and “C” employees to organizations more suited to their talents or work with them to get them in the “A” category. In the year 2016 planning is more important than ever and we need the best organizations that can be mustered.

However, a recent Harvard Business Review article suggested that high-octane Type A leaders may actually be worse for the organization than Type B people.

The lens we use to evaluate managerial talent is usually that of the high-octane Type A leader (aggressive, impatient, high-stress); lower-volume Type B people (calm, patient, laid-back) tend to end up in lesser positions even when they’re extremely capable. There are two big problems with this. First, it creates a persistently stressful environment, which is a recipe for employee disengagement. Over time, a stressful management style breeds burnout and turnover. Second, potentially excellent Type B managers get overlooked because they haven’t earned their “stress merit badge.” This can frustrate your Type B employees, especially if they have interpersonal skills that would lend themselves to a leadership position. Organizations can’t afford to needlessly limit their managerial talent pools. So the next time you need to fill a management role, consider the ripple effects of a Type B person’s calm, laid-back approach. A reduced-stress work environment can encourage better results from everyone.

So I need to clarify my terms. When I call for A employees I am not talking about the high-octane A Type. I am talking about the overall quality of A staff, many of which may be of the B Type.

In my management course I ask why would anyone follow you and suggest the following 7 possibilities:

  1. Expert (you may be but I like what one big city manager told me that she was not the sharpest knife in the box)
  2. Authority (you are the boss)
  3. Rewards (you offer money, assignments, advancement)
  4. Coercive (you can hurt them, the opposite of rewards)
  5. Charisma (contrary to popular belief, studies show that some of the best managers are not charismatic.
  6. Mission and Values (the clear Northbound Train)
  7. Systems (you have them but may not understand there power)

A good manager may use any or all of these seven. If you are charismatic, why not use it? Or if you are an expert in a certain aspect of the work. However, when I try this exercise with my classes, Mission comes up only occasionally, and Systems almost never. Yet studies and the literature show, over and over again, that Mission and Systems are the strongest of the seven.

So my message for the New Year – Type A personalities, relax a bit, recognize the value of the Type B’s, then, use all 7 techniques with a major emphasis on Mission and Systems.

the Management Doctor