Leading With a Type B Personality

Far too often, leaders run into trouble by attempting to be something they’re not.

Authoritative. Hands on. Aggressive. Analytical.  

They’re traits we associate with Type A personality leaders, the ones who are decisive, who don’t shy away from confrontation, who insist that orders be executed a particular way.

The list of them is seemingly endless. Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, Bill Parcells, just to name a few.

But can you be a successful leader with a Type B personality? Can you run a team if you don’t really fit the above description?  

In short, absolutely.

Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Bob Iger and yes, Bill Belichick, really have Type B personalities.

They’re soft spoken, they’re humble and they’re not afraid to delegate responsibilities.

What unites these different lists isn’t one etched-in-stone philosophy or leadership style.

It’s knowledge of the craft, attention to detail, a relentless work ethic and an ability to hold a team to a standard.  

Above all, it’s authenticity.

The Type Bs are really Type A in their knowledge and convictions. They’re just a bit softer in their communication styles.

Far too often, though, leaders run into trouble by attempting to be something they’re not.

We’ve seen CEOs like Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes wear all-black turtlenecks attempting to be like Steve Jobs. We’ve seen Belichick disciples put pencils in their ears. We’ve seen countless investors try to work the market like Buffett thinking that will yield the same results.

It’s often said that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” but imitation out of insecurity or a belief that our current personality can’t satisfy the demands of the job can lead to straying badly out of character.

And that can be fatal — particularly for Type Bs.   

We should always strive to acquire new skills, learn pertinent information and improve our emotional intelligence.

But the core of who we are can never be rooted in trying to imitate something we’re not.