Five different types of leaders
An interesting article in Harvard Business Review by Gary Willams and Robert Miller argues that executives typically fall into one of five decision-making categories:
Charismatics can be initially exuberant about a new idea or proposal but will yield a final decision based on a balanced set of information.
Thinkers can exhibit contradictory points of view within a single meeting and need to cautiously work through all the options before coming to a decision.
Skeptics remain highly suspicious of data that don't fit with their worldview and make decisions based on their gut feelings.
Followers make decisions based on how other trusted executives, or they themselves, have made similar decisions in the past.
Controllers tend to focus on the pure facts and analytics of a decision because of their own fears and uncertainties.
The five styles span a wide range of behaviors and characteristics. Controllers, for instance, have a strong aversion to risk; charismatics tend to seek it out. Being more persuasive involves understanding what sort of a leader you are dealing with a adjusting the pitch to the personality.
Taking these differences into account can enhance your chances of persuading the leader to change. If the leader is to fall in love with a new idea, they have to discover it for themselves and make it their own. These five different types of leaders will tend to discover the new idea in different ways:
Charismatics are mercurial and can leap at an attractive idea that they can call their own. They will tend to accept – or reject – an idea on the spot.
Thinkers need to be given the time and the material so that they can work through the details.
With skeptics, there is a need to build on views and beliefs that they already accept and gradually over time lead a shift in their viewpoint.
Followers need to be given evidence of how other trusted executives, or they themselves, have made similar decisions in the past.
Controllers need to be given the facts and analytics of an issue.
Change the Way You Persuade., By: Gary Williams and Robert Miller., Harvard Business Review, May 2002, Vol. 80, Issue 5