Over a seven-year period, I worked with a partner who was the opposite of me on almost every scale of personality tests we took.
During that time, we experimented a lot, but ultimately started two successful businesses; one a recruiting company and the other a SaaS platform that delivered leadership development to organizations. Both are thriving today.
Although we were very different, we both liked results and shared the same core values. Those values helped us to fight fairly when we did disagree (which was pretty often).
Over time, I realized more and more just how much we viewed the world and our businesses differently.
He loved to dream, verbally process, leave decisions open-ended, and seek new ways for the business to do new things. I liked to make a decision, get things done, think about how we were going to do what he just promised to that new client, and ensure our team was getting the job done.
On many days it was challenging to see where he was coming from.
On others, I really appreciated his enthusiasm and perspective.
How in the world did we make it work?
Let’s just say it wasn’t easy. However, we tried to be aware of how each of us was naturally wired and move into roles that accommodated those strengths. We naturally created a way of operating that worked.
Over time, he bowed out of areas that required him to do a lot of detail and follow through. He also chose to reign in constant new ideas so we could implement the ones we decided were important as a team.
I helped create a weekly environment that allowed for problems to be solved together - this ensured his way of thinking was heard and allowed him to express his ideas and opinions.
You may be in a similar scenario - on a leadership team with someone who is either like me or my previous partner. If that’s the case, you probably feel some level of frustration. Know you aren’t alone. It’s a pretty common feeling. We want to help you maximize that relationship.
Let’s start by providing a language for those two types of people. I like to call them Composers and Conductors.
Composer - A Composer is someone who writes and directs original music. They are creators, risk takers, and dreamers by nature.
In the business world, these are leaders with lots of vision and ideas. They enjoy dreaming about the future and seeing what the organization could be. They aren’t afraid to start a new venture. They are relentlessly optimistic and bring lots of energy to the office. They love big relationships and processing problems to solve. They are pioneers, ideators, and explorers.
On the downside, they often struggle to follow-through. Details and systems zap their energy. Without help, they will drop balls and over promise/ under deliver to clients.
My partner was and still is nearly 100% Composer. I, on the other hand, have much more of the characteristics of a Conductor.
Conductor - In the music world, the primary responsibilities of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, listen critically, and shape the sound of the ensemble.
In business, these are leaders who take the vision and make it happen. They know how to get teams and people working together to execute the vision. They aren’t afraid of accountability and enjoy looking at the metrics to see how the business is progressing.
Decisions need to be made...done. Systems need to be created...check. Meetings need to be led well…..like clockwork.
As a Conductor myself, I have many of those strengths. I can also speak to their common struggles.
It gets really easy to focus on the doing and not the people around you. Your team may begin to feel like a means to an end rather than real people that need recognition and respect.
I can also get laser-focused on the task at hand and miss an out of the box opportunity. If I’m not careful, I’ll miss the forest for the trees.
Composers desperately need Conductors in their lives to help them run their businesses. When they don’t have them, the business normally can only grow so much. It must have discipline, systems, and processes to scale.
You may already know by reading some of the descriptions of how you lean -- Composer or Conductor.
It’s critical to understand so you can build a team to complement your strengths and bail you out of your weaknesses.
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