There Are 2 Kinds of People…


clint eastwoodThere are 3 kinds of people in this world – those who are good at math, and those who aren’t.

Ok, I guess there are just 2 kinds of people.

Have you ever heard that expression – “There are 2 kinds of people…”?  I have heard multiple varieties of this euphemism.  One of my favourites comes from Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:

“See, in this world there are two kinds of people my friend – those with loaded guns and those who dig.  You dig.”

I haven’t really found a good leadership application for that one, but it’s a great movie.

Here’s the thing to keep in mind with the concept of “2 kinds of people” – no one person has all that’s needed to lead well.  Leadership is best done within a community of leaders.  Leaders need each other to lead well.

Every leader brings a particular leadership bias, and that leader needs the influence of other leaders to bring a balanced approach to leadership.  Leadership works best within a culture of mutual respect.  A good leader recognizes that he or she has weaknesses which just happen to be another leader’s strengths.

Great leadership teams are comprised of people whose leadership abilities and biases complement each other.  However, that only works well if the leaders operate with mutual respect in recognition of their own weaknesses, gaps and biases.  If they don’t, then that leadership team is filled with conflict.

Why?  Because arrogant leaders who don’t understand their own limitations believe that anyone who disagrees with them must be wrong.  That is weak leadership.

So, what are some variations of 2 different kinds of people?

Well, there are gas pedals and brakes.  The gas pedal leader wants to keep moving forward at full speed.  They need brake pedals around them to keep them from crashing into a wide variety of obstacles we encounter every day in business.

However, without mutual respect, a gas pedal leader sees the brake pedal leader as never wanting to move forward, to take risks – of always coming up with reasons not to do something.  And, the brake pedal leader sees the gas pedal leader as being reckless, putting the company and its people at risk.  We need both to “drive” safely.

There are microwaves and crock pots.  Microwaves process information and decisions very quickly.  They improvise and easily contribute around the boardroom table.  Crock pots like to simmer on ideas and decisions.  Time is an important ingredient for them to come up with their best input.  Crock pots only contribute in the board room if an agenda has been sent out prior to the meeting giving them opportunity to cook up great thoughts.

There are those who disturb the comfortable and those who comfort the disturbed.  “Disturbers” ask the tough questions.  They push things forward.  They are not interested in settling for the status quo – and won’t let others do so either.  “Comforters” want to make sure people are feeling comfortable in their roles, that they know they belong, are safe, and are part of an organization that cares about them.  Both can work very well together, if they have chosen mutual respect.

And here’s one I have been thinking a lot about lately – those who simplify the complicated and those who complicate the simple.  “Simplifiers” take complicated concepts, ideas, and content, and simplify it so a larger number of people can understand it.  These people are great to have in complicated, prolonged meetings, because they simplify what was discussed into understandable bites and actionable items.

“Complicators” take something that appears very simple and break it down into its minutia.  They can be very frustrating to simplifiers because they come across as always complicating things, which prolongs implementation.  However, complicators shine in the details of a matter.  They will plow through the fine print of any issue to make sure the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed.

Every strength has a corollary weakness; that’s why we need people with complementary (opposite) abilities to be our best.  Mutual respect enables “2 kinds of people” to synergize, and, therefore, accomplish far greater results.

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Leading and Living on Purpose.