Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a CEO, a team leader, a project manager, or anyone who works with a team: are you aware of the kind of team leader you are?
I've lost count of how many CEOs I've met, advised, and worked with throughout my career: 100? 200? 500?
That's not the point. The point is that I've come to realize that there are generally 3 types of leaders, whether that's at a CEO or middle management (and this applies across sectors, company size and geographies) level.
It's critical for you to be able to identify what kind of leader you are. Even if you're not in a leadership position, it's important to know what kind of leader your boss and his/her boss is: understanding their psychology means you'll be able to work with them better.
Here are the 3 types:
The technical leader
This executive went up through the ranks. He/she is technically very competent, but lacks strategic vision and people skills.
He/she has a tendency to hire people who are technically sound. This stunts the company’s growth because this results in the creation of a company which is technically capable but fails to attract top talent or build market dominating brands.
If you feel that you are such a leader: spend the time to acquire management and leadership skills through books, seminars, and coaching. Surround yourself with people who have knowledge in the areas, which you lack.
If you feel that your boss is such a leader: use that as an opportunity to “add value” to him/her by politely and discretely contributing your “leadership ideas”. Use the opportunity to “open their eyes” to the leadership aspects that they miss. Do not do it in a defensive or criticizing manner, but rather in a constructive spirit meant to “elevate them” (and you along with them).
This is probably the most common executive I come across in underperforming companies or entrepreneurial ventures.
This is someone who just can't completely trust the work of the people who work for him/her: he/she second-guesses everyone and gets involved in every aspect of the business, even in areas where he/she has no skills or experience.
If you feel that you are such a leader: set yourself a timeline to get comfortable with the skills of the people whom you’ve hired. For example: I will give myself 15 days to closely monitor my team’s work, not to micromanage but to build enough confidence to “let them be”, and at the end of those 15 days, I will start another 15-day phase where I will check in once a week. After that period, I will check in once every 2 weeks, and so on.
If you feel that your boss is such a leader: most people will become frustrated and confrontational – they will talk about their boss behind their back, and complain about how he/she can’t let them do their job. This creates an unhealthy atmosphere and reduces productivity. Open a line of communication: take your boss out for a coffee and tell them the following: “I value your skills and ability and I would like you to teach me what I need to learn to become more independent and produce the work quality you can expect from me”. The idea here is not to flatter them, but to make them aware that they’re micromanaging and to put them on a path of “letting go”.
The successful leader
Many people falsely assume that Steve Jobs created the iPhone, the iPad, the MacBook Air, etc.
But the beauty in reading biographies is that you discover the truth about people, including how most of these products were the idea of Apple Chief of Product Design and the Apple engineering team, and they came to life through the collaboration among various departments. This all happened under the brilliant perfectionist eye of Jobs.
Steve Jobs was the "orchestra conductor", not a "musician".
Jobs exemplifies the true management style of a leader capable of taking his company to stratospheric levels:
1. Hire the right people for the right job
2. Incentivize them in the most powerful way (money, yes, but not just money)
3. Be keenly aware of your target market
4. Develop a clear strategy
5. Trust your judgment of the team you hired and let them do their job!