There are three types of people/contributors:
An entrepreneur lives in the “what if…” world. “What if we changed this? What if we launched that? What if we restructured it all? What if we shut it down?” This is the space where critical problem solving skills are mastered.
A manager hears the “what if” and says, “I have a plan” or “This is how we’re going to do it.” Managers are skilled at crafting strategies and assigning tactics; they’re masterful at analytics and return on investment; and they thrive on the boundaries of their assignment (budget, timelines, resources available, etc).
Simply, a technician is a doer. He/she says, “Stop talking to me. I have a work to do!” or “What do you want me to work on?” These people thrive on their projects and tasks being clear, and oftentimes, they appreciate it being planned for them. They’re skilled at quickly assimilating tasks and getting work done as quick as possible.
Like the Strengths Finders test results, people are not exclusively one type. Most have learned how to be all three types out of necessity. Age and stage often will dictate what role you have to play…regardless of what you may prefer.
The key to finding your place within a company or community is understanding which of these roles fit you best.
Most importantly, as a leader, understanding you and your team in this way will help you manage well.
Three Reasons why understanding roles is critical to effective leadership
Almost always, entrepreneurs and technicians shouldn’t be in the same meeting together if the entrepreneur is given the opportunity to think and speak freely. Because technicians are looking to get things done, wondering in the amorphic space of entrepreneurs “what if?” can be overwhelming and will likely lead to confusion and frustration. Do everybody a favor and wait to include them until the plan has become clear.
When dreaming and planning, it’s always best for entrepreneurs to include a trusted manager. Managers excel at helping the entrepreneur understand the scope, limitations and relative timelines for their ideas. Moreover, when an idea begins to take shape, managers are wired to know how to put together a solid plan. Managers will benefit from being included in the entrepreneurial state because they’ll buy into the concept from the beginning. Managers do not do well when handed a list of “ideas” and asked to execute on them without context and full understanding of the concept. Include them as early in the process as you can.
Entrepreneurs need to be careful who they talk to. Talking too much, too early and to the wrong people can be damaging to morale and their own reputation. Entrepreneurs can quickly be labeled a “dreamer” because all they do is talk about new ideas and never execute. Worse yet, the staff is left wondering if this or that new idea is the one they’re supposed to take action on? Most managers and technicians will tire of the start and stop of past ideas and wait to take action until they’re told to. This game often ends in frustration for everybody involved.
Personally, I have found that when I enter into the entrepreneurial what-if space, color coding my ideas has proven to help very helpful:
Red – these are ideas that I like; am considering; but don’t require action from the staff. I will let them know when they need to act.
Yellow – These are ideas that I’m likely going to do but am still proceeding with caution. During this phase, we look for reason not to move forward and I’ll involve the team in their respective roles to contribute to the research and development of the concept.
Green – These are action items. We are doing them and the team needs to take action immediately.
Finally, before you hire or promote someone into a new position, be sure that they’re ready and capable of taking on the new role and responsibility. The last thing you want to do is over-promote someone into a position they’re not capable of fulfilling.
Understanding people is an art that requires creativity, practice and the willingness to be wrong. It’s essential to building a sustainable businesses.