As we all know, there are only two types of people in the world… depending on whatever it is we are talking about.
Actually that’s not true. In the world of mathematics there are 10 types of people: those that understand binary maths and those that don’t.
In the world of work there are two types of leader: those that change things and those that keep things as they are.
Leaders who change things are needed when there’s a big problem. They go in and try to fix the big problem. Then when they’ve fixed it (or failed to fix it) they leave. If they have failed to fix it the owners will either appoint someone else to fix the problem, or the organisation will have gone out of existence. When they have fixed the problem they will go and look for another problem to fix elsewhere because they know that they will become bored staying in a place where there’s nothing to fix.
What’s important is that these leaders shouldn’t stay for too long after they have fixed the problem (unless there are other significant problems they can turn their attention to), because if there isn’t another problem for them to fix they’ll probably try to fix stuff that doesn’t need fixing, and then it will break, but because they think they’re fixing something they won’t see the need to fix what they have broken and then the organisation will either go out of existence or they will be fired for being in charge when the thing broke.
If you see what I mean.
Leaders who don’t change things are needed when there aren’t any big problems. They are very good at keeping things ticking over well. That’s not to say they are passive people. They are not. They are very good at understand the organisation and at spotting when changes in the environment are occurring. Really good “hand on the tiller” leaders, as I call them, bring in change people (not necessarily leaders) when stuff looks like it might be breaking, so that it gets fixed before it breaks. When something breaks under a “hand on the tiller” leader the owners blame that leader for breaking the thing, and get rid of them. Then they have to go and find a change leader to fix whatever it is that has broken.
Because the world of work and industry is changing so rapidly everyone needs to be comfortable with change, but that doesn’t mean everyone needs to be a change leader. Organisations also need stability and it is the quality of staying calm, not panicking, being able to keep the ship on an even keel through changing times that is why “hand on the tiller” leaders are also important.
So which of the two types of people are you? Are you the sort of person that fixes things when they have gone wrong (or, potentially when they haven’t gone wrong), or are you the sort of person that keeps the ship on a steady course (or, potentially misses the signs of change that require the introduction of a person who can help you to navigate through choppy seas)?