Jun 2, 2008

Posted by in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Choosing the best man for the job.

The distinction between Warrior Leadership and King Leadership

To appreciate the differences in the ways of being embodied by each of the mature archetypes — the King, Warrior, Magician and Lover – it helps to look at how they operate in a given situation. For example how does a Warrior lead and how is that leadership different from that of a man harnessing King energy?

It is my belief that many men master Warrior leadership pretty early on in life. In my men’s organization (MDI) we put new men through an eight week program that lets them hone the skills necessary to achieve short-term tasks. Jargon such as “honoring your commitment”, “being a team of one” “completing the job at all costs” and “quitting is not an option” can be viewed as the mantras of the Warrior. A Warrior operating from his strength is committed to achieving success at all costs. He puts aside his own emotion and any and all distractions so that he can attain that single task that he has been charged with.

In battle it is the Sergeant charged with leading his men to take the hill.
In sport it is the quarterback charged with leading his team into the end zone.
For a salesman it is making the next sale.
For me, as a lawyer, when I worked for a law firm, it was my job to win my case, by any means necessary.

In each instance the goal was specific, the task was within reach and when you attained it you were done. No questions asked, you did your job and waited for the opportunity to take the next hill, win your next case, score your next touchdown, make the next sale (or in MDI enroll your next men). In a lot of respects the leadership of the Warrior is phenomenally satisfying. It is easy to measure success and failure. There is after all no better feeling than winning.

However, Warriors have rarely succeeded in building anything that lasts over time. They have rarely been effective in creating and sustaining cultures, building companies or creating sports dynasties. It is well accepted that very few superstar athletes make good managers or coaches, let alone general managers charged with sustaining success year after year (while there are always exceptions, Knicks fans just need to look to Isiah Thomas.) In my experience, really gifted trial lawyers are horrible as managing partners in a law firm or as general counsel of a major company. There are just a different skills sets needed for effective short term and long-term leadership.

Which brings us to the leadership of the King. Where the Warrior thrives in chaos, the King is successful when he brings order to that chaos. The leader King is the field general viewing the battle as it unfolds from a hill in the rear. He looks not at the immediate battle but where the battle is flowing. Losing the battle in order to win the war is a concept mature Kings easily embrace. It is the foresight to realize that short-term sacrifice is often a key component of long-term success. For example a GM or manager who plays a rookie knowing it might cost the team a game but in the end will give the young player valuable playing experience. Savvy business owners will often refer potential customers to a competitor if they thnk that competitor might better serve the s=customers needs. They do it in the belief that the trust established will come back ten fold ove ime even f hey lost out on the immediate job. Now that I am an attorney working solely for a major corporation, I care less about winning and being right and focus more on what is in the best interests of the company as a whole. Often it means agreeing to settle a case even though I know victory can be easily attained.

I want to be clear that I am not making a judgment that one form of leadership is better than another. However, it is important to recognize which type of leadership is needed to acheive a particulat goal and to make sure that the man chosen to lead the project is harnessing the proper energy. For example, I am not sure that I would want a King leading a distinct fund raising project or an enrollment drive. In my mind, he may be thinking too many steps ahead to successfully lead his men to their short-term goal. Conversely, I would not want a Warrior driving my men to create an organization or lead a long-term project because he will drive the men to exhaustion and burnout.

In short, each man is gifted with a distinct tool set and it is a mistake we often make to think that success in one arena is easily transferred into another. So take the time to ask the hard questions about what is needed to succeed at a particular challenge and then do an honest exploration of who the best man is to do that job.

  1. Tony Vear said…
    Spierer,

    I totally get your view of leadership and have experienced pretty much the same thing in the leadership roles I’ve taken on.

    As a Team Captain I had resistance left and right. Now, my team is taking on many of the things I started or suggested.

    Heck – it took 14 months to have kareoke night! lol

    I’ve got a few projects I’m currently working on and I have someone out front on all of them as the speaker. I get what I want, they get trained and they don’t have to get killed by the resistence from the group. It’s great.

    Thank you for the insight into the shadow archetypes in opposition to leadership. Not only have I found myself in all of them, I can begin devising ways to neutralize the resistance in the future.

    Tony Vear

    June 11, 2008 7:23 AM