I ask because although widely criticized for its lack of scientific basis, Type ‘A’ and Type ‘B’ personality theory still springs to my mind when I encounter leaders of a certain type.
Type A and Type B personality theory categorized type A’s as impatient, time-conscious, controlling individuals who were highly competitive, concerned about their status – and, key to this blog entry, aggressive. Type B’s are more patient, relaxed and easy-going.
Type A’s tend to be more ambitious and therefore you get more Type A’s as business leaders (at least that’s the theory). And Type A’s by their nature are likely to be more demanding bosses – with staff who are very wary of them.
Now you might think being a Type A boss is good. And that if your staff are a bit worried by you, then that’s good too because they’re more likely to do what you ask.
Perhaps. But the trouble is, if they’re afraid of you, then they’re not necessarily going to tell you how things really are.
This is apparently part of what went wrong with UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Brown aides, warned about his potential to lose his temper, learned to serve up a bad news sandwich. Brown would be told about a recent positive piece of press coverage, for example, then the bad news that had to be imparted, swiftly followed by some impending good news.
Not something we recognize said some of Brown’s closest allies. But he managed to get through two chiefs of staff and five strategic advisors in two years.
Oh… and now he’s ‘former’ Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Be careful the seeds your personality sows… and watch out for the filling in the sandwiches your staff bring you!
Tags: aggressive type aides allies bad news boots business leaders chiefs of staff former prime minister gordon brown leadership style leading question personality theory prime minister gordon brown sandwich sandwiches seeds sows temper type a and type b personality