Can showbiz personalities become effective government leaders

How does stress factor into leadership? Is a leader who is stressed out from running around getting things done just a person of action, or a ticking time bomb?

Victor Lipman, author of The Type B Manager: Leading Successfully in a Type A World, would say the latter. When he was being considered for an executive position, he writes in Harvard Business Review, he felt his cool, low-stress style hurt his chances. 

"Over my decades in business, I worked with and observed a similar dynamic time and time again: classic high-octane Type A's (aggressive, impatient, with high stress levels) most often ended up with top leadership roles while classic lower-volume Type B's (calm, patient, more laid-back), who were nonetheless extremely capable, ended up in lesser positions," he writes. "When it comes to talent assessment, it seems we tend to make decisions with blinders on, defaulting to an expected model of high-stress, high-intensity leadership."

Instead of letting stress rule your actions and spread to your employees, Lipman believes we should combine a "low-stress Type B management style" with "high standards and strong results-orientation." If your employees are motivated without being badgered and prefer low-stress environments, that combination should increase your team's productivity.

Here's why Lipman thinks the stereotypical stress-ridden Type A leader is bad for business, along with his strategies for channeling your inner Type B.

A stressed leader means stressed employees.

A stressed-out manager might be getting a lot done, but how are the employees being affected? "First, when unchecked Type A behavior creates a persistently stressful environment for the team, it's a recipe for employee disengagement," Lipman writes.

And while Type A leaders can be brilliant and motivated, there is a dark side. "We all know high-intensity managers who can be counted on to deliver a tough project but leave a trail of bodies in their wake. Ultimately, that's not an efficient long-term model," he writes.

Find your latent calm.

When categorizing people into personality categories, you rely on stereotypes and generalizations. "Most of us, of course, aren't exclusively Type A or Type B personalities, but possess elements of both," Lipman says. So if you want to combat your stress, you can channel the stress-reducing traits you also possess. "We can consciously cultivate calmness, turning down the A volume a bit while turning up the inner B," he says.

As you work to reduce your stress you will help your employees as well. Remember that as the leader, you have the most influence in the room. Whatever you're feeling your employees will mirror. You don't have to be stressed to be a great leader, Lipman says. "More relaxed behavior sometimes presumed to be unleader-like can yield improved leadership results," he says.

Published on: Sep 23, 2015