20 Types of Executives


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20 Types of Executives

  1. 1. The 20 Types of Executives … and How to Improve Your Performance No Matter What Type You Areexec.actioncoach.com
  2. 2. Introduction A s an executive, you are probably aware that successful executives display a number of personality traits that have been defined and indentified by years of management research. The goal of executive coaching is to improve performance no matter what type of personality an individual (or the collective personality of an executive’s team) may have or display. That said, the more you know about your individual profile and personality, the easier and more effectively you can progress over the course of an executive coaching program. You will also get better quality results based on what is appropriate and effective for a particular situation and personality style.exec.actioncoach.com 1
  3. 3. The 20 Most Common Executive Archetypes … Which One are You? The following are some common executive archetypes that have been identified and profiled as the result of extensive managerial research. While this list isn’t inclusive, it should give you a good overview and possibly some insight into your own executive style, personality and behavior. 1. The Aggressor. The Aggressor responds to stressful situations by being overly assertive, to the point where he comes across as coercive and even abusive. By their nature, Aggressors are often results-driven and can be superstars in certain areas of performance (like deal making and sales). The Aggressor’s coach has to help the Aggressor become aware of the negative consequences of his aggressive behavior, and choose more appropriate responses such as listening, involving, and knowing when to disengage from situations before they become explosive. 2. The Avoider. The Avoider responds to stressful situation by running away. If the aggressor is like a rabid raccoon, the avoider is like a turtle hiding in his shell. Avoiders have a lot of difficulty asserting appropriately, resolving conflicts, and giving honest performance assessments. They are often passive aggressive, failing to do what they promised to do (because they couldn’t say no). The coach has to work with the Avoider to understand what gets in the way of his ability to confront conflicts, and role play to practice assertion, stating expectations, and conflict management.exec.actioncoach.com 2
  4. 4. 3. The Political Animal. This type of executive is overly concerned with his power and relationships in the organization. He frames decisions based on who will win and who will lose power. On the one hand, the Political Animal is fantastic at exchanging favors in the organization in order to find scarce resources and get things done. On the other hand, he can be nasty in the way he deflects blame and fails to take full responsibility for results. 4. The Status Seeker. The Status Seeker won’t admit it, but he prefers the benefits over getting results. He or she is very concerned with looking good, getting credit, and building a strong reputation. Fancy titles, big bonuses, special recognition, and the corner office are all important to the Status Seeker. The coach needs to have the status seeker focus on results and accountability first, and the natural status that follows from results second. 5. The Bottom-Liner. This very driven executive speaks quickly and concisely, has little tolerance for lengthy analysis, makes quick decisions from the gut and wants results yesterday. The Bottom-Liner needs to become more patient and tolerant of people with different styles, and learn to adapt his style to the person he is dealing with. 6. The Safety First-er. Executives motivated by safety resist change. They may be close to retirement, or simply do not want to rock the boat. Generally they are skilled at keeping their heads down and doing predictable tasks. Their challenge many times is getting outside of their comfort zone.exec.actioncoach.com 3
  5. 5. 7. The Envelope Pusher. The Envelope Pusher has a high tolerance for risk, sometimes too high. He often is an Early Adopter of new technologies, and is frustrated when others don’t move as quickly as he does. He often has bold new ideas that are ahead of their time, or at least ahead of where the organization is ready to go. This executive is a wonderful asset to an organization, because he is often a source of innovation and a refreshing voice for change. However, sometimes ideas need to be tempered by the organization’s willingness to change. Also, he may need coaching on focusing on the details and getting results today, regardless of what will be possible tomorrow. 8. The Visionary. The Visionary is great at painting inspiring pictures of a wonderful future. Unfortunately, he often isn’t very good at developing action plans or figuring out how specifically to achieve the vision. The coach can help bring greater range to the Visionary by working with him on shifting from vision to opportunities and alternatives, and finally to a plan with accountability for making things happen. 9. The General. The General is the old school command and control leader. He wants his people to be loyal, and to do what he wants them to do, on time, under budget, and his way. This leadership style can be effective, especially in organizations that need a clear direction. However, the “soldiers” who report to the General often complain that they don’t feel part of the bigger vision, and burn out from doing project after project, task after task, without a greater purpose or mission. They also resent being in a “mushroom farm” where they only get information on a need to know basis. Finally, younger workers do not respond well to the command and control style. The coach can help the General develop new ways to motivate, involve, and bring together teams to get the same results.exec.actioncoach.com 4
  6. 6. 10. The Bureaucrat. The Bureaucrat needs specific processes followed and does things by the book. He is very similar to the “Safety First” archetype. The coach can work with the bureaucrat to focus on results instead of tasks, and to break out of his comfort zone. 11. The Perfectionist. The Perfectionist needs to get the A+ every time, even if the requirements of the work don’t demand a perfect score. He often makes decisions slowly, suffering from analysis paralysis, waiting for 100% complete and comprehensive information (which almost never exists). The coach needs to work with the perfectionist to do what’s needed for the job, to make decisions with imperfect information, and to be more willing to take risks without guarantees of success. 12. The Loose Cannon. This executive is the bull in the China shop. He says things that are politically incorrect, goes off topic in meetings to push his own agenda, pushes ideas without listening to others, and generally ignores the political structure of the organization to get things done. He also tends to be the “ready, fire, aim” type of leader. The coach can work with this person to become aware of the political nature of the organization, how to promote ideas more wisely, and how to do a bit more research before jumping to conclusions.exec.actioncoach.com 5
  7. 7. 13. The Legal Liability. Some superstars in organizations have blind spots that can create a legal liability for the company. For instance, the brilliant neurosurgeon might be abusive to his nurses. The law firm partner might yell and swear at associates, even making personal attacks. In too many cases, these people cross the line into sexual harassment as well. The job a coach has is to make it clear how serious these issues are, and work with the person to correct their behaviors immediately. However, often the organization tolerates these behaviors, which means a coach may first have to go to the top levels of the organization and have them decide that they will no longer tolerate inappropriate behaviors, even if it means losing superstars (although the organization can make the case to the superstar that, if they do go elsewhere, other organizations will be far less tolerant). In other words, the neurosurgeon or other similar key person will not change if they don’t have to, especially if senior leadership tacitly tolerates the poor behavior. A coach may have to change the organization’s explicit values first in order to change the person second. 14. The Popularity Contest. This executive still wants to be friends with his direct reports. He prefers harmony and popularity to conflict. As a result, he has a hard time raising standards, giving tough feedback, and holding people accountable. The coach can work with this client to have him value respect more than popularity, practice the behaviors that lead to results, and get skilled at dealing with conflicts. 15. The Psychic Communicator. This executive keeps it all in his head. Employees rarely know how they are doing, what future plans are, the vision for the organization, or what they need to do to get ahead. Often these individuals have trouble expressing their ideas, or haven’t thought through their point of view clearly enough. The coach can work with this executive to become a concise, more open communicator.exec.actioncoach.com 6
  8. 8. 16. The Analyst. The Analyst needs to know every step in a process, and often drives non-analysts crazy with ongoing requests for information. However, the Analyst’s focus on details is valuable. The coach can work with the Analyst to get comfortable making decisions more quickly, and to learn to adapt his style for the drivers, visionaries, and political animals of the world. 17. The Death by Consensus Executive. This person will almost never make a decision without 100% agreement from everyone who has any kind of say in a particular matter. On the plus side, this person works hard to get buy-in and commitment from people in the organization, so that when consensus is reached, things actually get done. However, he goes too far and takes too long to move things forward, including wasting time with too many meetings and involving more people than may be needed. A coach can work with this person to become more comfortable getting “just enough” consensus to move forward. For instance, plan ahead to determine exactly who needs input and who doesn’t, how to handle resistance (e.g. whether to go around someone, influence them indirectly, or offer them bigger incentives to change), and how to influence people quickly to get on board. 18. The Saboteur. The Saboteur often resents or feels threatened by a peer and does what he can to sabotage his peer’s efforts. For instance, in health care it is not uncommon to see the COO and CFO undermine one another’s efforts, and compete for more power over the budget and personnel. A Saboteur might publicly agree to a decision, and then resist it or ignore it afterwards. He is also known for blaming other people for anything that goes wrong, and refusing to take responsibility. The coach needs to deal delicately with the saboteur’s behaviors, and get specific data about what the executive is doing and the potential costs. Then he can suggest alternative behaviors and, if needed, have open discussions with the client and his peers to agree on new rules of behavior going forward. Remember that a Saboteur can just as easily sabotage the coach as anyone else he works with!exec.actioncoach.com 7
  9. 9. 19. The Empire Builder. The Empire Builder is a master at protecting his or her turf. He builds silos that prevent the overall organization from working as efficiently and smoothly as it could. The coach can work with this type of executive to think more about the overall system and process, and the need to focus on customer satisfaction and loyalty first. 20. The Control Freak. This executive doesn’t trust others to do things as well as him. He tends to micromanage and set people up to fail by not giving them enough information, resources, or latitude to show what they can do on their own. He steps in too soon in situations, so that employees don’t develop and often take a passive approach. The coach needs to work with this individual to either trust his team or put in place a team he can trust. Then the coach can work with him to set boundaries and guidelines for when to direct (e.g., when people don’t have the skill or the proper attitude), and when to monitor.exec.actioncoach.com 8
  10. 10. Being Open to the Coaching Process You will find as you start your coaching that gaps will exist between where you are and where you want to go. That is normal and simply part of the process. Know at the start that only by identifying, measuring and tracking can performance improve, and change can only take place by implementing strategies and tracking results. As you progress, you will feel more comfortable making any mid-course corrections, and acknowledging your wins and milestones. Getting Started To discover more about everything Executive Coaching can do to enhance your performance and your career, contact me … and I will offer you a free Executive Coaching assessment, at no cost or further obligation to you. Just contact me and we can get started right away.exec.actioncoach.com 9