Role versus Archetype or Nurture vs Nature

One very important question of our Manager – Entrepreneur – Leader model is : is the manager, the leader or the entrepreneur a function or a role to be performed and therefore can and has to change in a business lifetime (nurture) or is it an archetype, relatively fixed and hardly to change because it is based on traits, genes, early education and mentality (nature) – or is it both.

First of all, I strongly believe that having a dominance for manager, entrepreneur or leader is more of an archetype relatively fixed through lifetime. But it is by no means black or white and most of us are something in between with a strong expression for one or the other. So everyone has a portion of a manager-type, a leader-type and an entrepreneur-type and most of us have a strength or dominance for one of these three.

But in business life you don`t start as a leader, normally you start with a function that requires more the manager attitude than the leader or entrepreneur attitude. The more you grow and the better you perform the more likely  will you work in functions that require more of the leader attitude and less of the manager one. The same applies for the entrepreneur attitude.

But what is going to happen, if you’re are a manager-type and your job requires the leader role ? Let`s discuss the possibilities :

Manager archetype and leader role :

The role as a leader requires thinking about and into the future. A leader needs to be aware of trends and be curious about the world around him/her. He/she has to evaluate what of this is relevant for the business, what has an impact and what will be of influence. Setting a direction or a vision is a major part of the leader role and is requested from a leader`s subordinates.

In order to fulfil these requirements a leader needs to develop scenarios and alternatives, evaluate them and make a decision what would be the direction to go with the highest probability for success. This is what we mean by focusing on change.

All of this requires the ability to think and deal with uncertainty and ambiguity. To develop  scenarios for the future based on trends etc. means dealing with uncertainty. There are by no means enough and maybe even no data to support one or the other scenario, maybe it is based on the leader`s sensitivity, on his/her personal evaluation and guess or his/her experience and ability to visioning. The leader is walking on uncertain ground, but has to be absolutely convinced that the direction and to go into this direction with all the embedded consequences is right. This is the heart of the change being ahead. But change means to start on solid ground, which you know, and to move into an uncertain future which you don`t know but of which you are convinced to be the right one.

The second major task is to communicate all of this to his/her subordinates and peers and to create sensibility and support for the decisions and actions to be taken. But it is not only to communicate it is also to convince the people about the rightness of this new direction. Change creates fear and resistance and the leader has to overcome both by listening to people, talking to them, explaining the risks and chances of the new direction – the leader has to take the people seriously and accept their thinking and feeling, not necessarily to share them.

To summarize, the leader`s main role is to determine new directions, explain the necessity to go that way and to convince people to follow and to work hard to make it happen. He needs to be able to deal with uncertainty and to be people oriented.

The archetype of a manager in our MEL-model  is described to be focused on planning, organizing, controlling in order to reduce complexity to be able to handle it. The manager`s orientation is towards data that support decisions, describes the current status, thus dealing mainly with the presence or near future. A manager-archetype needs solid ground described by data, is focused on tasks and wants to improve processes and to be more efficient.

If a strong manager-archetype needs to perform in a strong leader role there is a high probability to fail, because the traits and skills that a manager brings to the table are by no means appropriate to deal with uncertainty and to motivate people. A manager-archetype needs solid ground with lots of data, the leader role requires thinking into the future and liking change which means uncertainty and unpredictability. The manager-archetype likes tasks and targets, the leader role requires liking people and motivating them.

The more someone is just a strong manger-archetype the higher will be the probability to fail in a dominant leader role.

Here is just one consequence coming out of these findings :

Promotion and Hire

What does this mean for hiring and promoting. In order to get a high level of probability for success, two steps have to be taken :

          • Analyse with rigor and honesty what is really required from this role or function ? Is it more a leader role or more a manager role ? What do the subordinates and superiors require from the person that will perform this role. The more intense this evaluation is done the better it will be for filling this position with the right person. In other words create an MEL-Index for the role or for this function.
          • Based on this analysis define the requirements the person to fill this vacancy should have. Is it more of the manager-archetype skills and traits or more of the leader archetype ones.  In other words define the ideal MEL-Index the future incumbent should have.
          • Evaluate the applicants according to the requirements defined in point 2 and make a clear and fair evaluation about their archetypes, which means measure the MEL-Index of the applicant.
          • The more the functional MEL-Index and the applicant`s MEL-Index fit, the higher will be the probability for success for the new hire

          AuthorUdo Dierk