So there are all kinds of manager vs. boss vs. person-in-charge-who-you-hate posts kicking around. They define the difference between the various types, talk about their flaws and positive traits etc.
I’m going to skip all of that since it’s been hashed out a billion times, and bring a powerful leader that is often overlooked to your attention instead. A few of the initial traits I describe are going to sound familiar, but the last one is what really defines this type of leadership style.
- This leader is someone who naturally earns the respect of a team, by respecting the team. If a team member does something disrespectful, out of line, or just wrong, the leader handles it immediately in a manner that is fair. (Stern talking to, probation, kicking them out the door, whatever needs to be done to ensure the rest of the team culture can continue rocking along.)
- This leader is someone who notices when something stupid happens. They have the skill to either identify the stupid thing immediately themselves, or they listen when another teammate comes to them to point out the stupid thing.
- This leader can make someone realize that they’ve done something stupid without actually making them FEEL stupid. This is a rare trait. It’s possible to coach people without making them feel like morons when they make a mistake. Obviously if someone is making repetitive mistakes that are negatively impacting your business, you need to take a different approach (up to and including letting them go) but when someone makes an honest mistake these leaders can coach them to improve without making them feel small. They empower people to succeed rather than scaring them into a state of constant fear of losing their job if they do one thing wrong.
- This leader can diffuse raging battles like a champ. They march in and activate their mad (and sincere) empathy skills and magically resolve the issue at hand without making any party feel slighted
This is the secret sauce I was talking about.
I say they do it magically because it seriously SEEMS magical. I’ve had the opportunity to work for several people in my life who had this skill set, and it’s mind blowing to watch.
At my previous startup, we had a VP named Patti DiSanto and another VP named Jason Coudriet with this power, and I SWEAR they could walk into the middle of a riot and their mere presence would make everyone immediately calm down.
They’d ask the people to hug, and they’d do it. Then the people on both sides would offer them their first born children and left kidneys as a token of their thanks. (I work with incredible leaders with the same skill set now, but I won’t embarrass them by mentioning names.) ;)
This skill-set isn’t just an “HR rep” thing. Putting people with this level of empathetic skill in the position to lead a team and impact business decisions is a benefit to your culture, to every employee who ever has the opportunity to work for and learn business practice from them, AND your to bottom line. These folks are an absolute POWERHOUSE when it comes to building strong client relationships that last. ($$$)
You typically can’t identify these people with a resume, “Magical conflict resolving/make clients love us skills” isn’t a common resume bullet point, but when you meet or interview one, you’ll know immediately.
Often times, the person doesn’t even realize how powerful their skill-set could be in a business environment.
If you immediately thought of someone you know when you read this post, encourage them to pursue a position in leadership if they have any interest in it—they have the potential to make a huge, positive impact.
Companies (ESPECIALLY startups) need more of this form of leadership to survive and flourish.
I really don’t think it’s any coincidence that my last 2 back to back startups have gone on to be extremely successful. Both companies had a variety of powerhouse leadership styles including this one in the mix.
Without this person in a startup leadership team, when you hit the rapid growth stage and everyone starts to freak out, panic, and turn on one another due to stress, you’re dealing with sheer mayhem that can topple an entire company.
I’m not trying to say that hiring someone with this skill-set is the only thing you need to make your startup succeed, but hiring them WILL get you to the finish line with less permanent business & interdepartmental relationship casualties than you would have incurred otherwise.
Picking the right combination of inspiring, powerful Senior Leadership team members is key to any business’s success—make your choices wisely.