Most organizations love "Type A" personalities. They are promoted, supported, sponsored, rewarded, and compensated handsomely for the behaviors that are almost universally identified with the type. "Type A" individuals are described as ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status-conscious, insensitive, impatient, take on more than they can handle, want other people to get to the point, anxious, proactive, and concerned with time management. People with "Type A" personalities are often said to be high-achieving "workaholics" who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence. They can be an organization's top producer, key leader, most capable performer, and valued employee. They are also capable of alienating colleagues and customers, and treating their own subordinates with a great deal less than the empathy, understanding, leadership, and support that the subordinates deserve. In my experience, the "Type A"s have a very strong tendency to focus their attention up the chain of command as they drive forward in their quest for personal accomplishment. They have a propensity to believe that their customers, colleagues, and subordinates are motivated by the same intensity and drive as themselves and provide very little in the way of genuine motivational support to peers and those at lower levels doing the heavy lifting. Personal ambition, opportunism, self-promotion, and manipulation are strongly perceived as their motives by peers and subordinates.
That is a bad thing. A very bad thing. Bad for the employees who work for the "Type A", bad for the organization, and bad for the leader who has a "Type A" as a direct report.
"Type A"s who operate like this and with no restraining influences and little or no oversight from above are capable of destroying an organization from within. Subordinates simply leave, the more talented and capable they are, the faster they depart. Customers leave too, they won't tolerate it no matter how much they like a company's products or services. Colleagues start to avoid them, collaboration ceases, the greater good of the company is displaced as other members of the team distance themselves from the "Type A". The wreckage left in their wake is far greater than the productivity that is created by their drive and intensity.
There is an expression for it that I have encountered. It's called the "Mongol (as in Genghis Kahn) theory of leadership." The "Type A" rides the horse until it dies from exhaustion, then he eats the horse. That metaphor says everything that customers, colleagues, and subordinates think about the ruthless "Type A".
Leaders have to protect themselves and their organization from "Type A" subordinates who behave like this. Not all of them do, but one is too many.
Leaders do that by being and staying in touch with their entire team, not just their direct reports and those they interact with every day. Walking around the company, establishing genuine personal relationships with employees at all levels, talking to them individually, in very small groups, at social occasions, and asking questions are the daily requirements of an informed and aware leader. The rewards are priceless and the penalties for being out of touch can be catastrophic.
Knowing how the leaders who work for you treat their own people is a vital (necessary to the continuation of life; life-sustaining) duty of leadership.
Many thanks, Keith Stalder, #27
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