Leadership Personalities:
Obsessives and Marketing Types

Leadership-PersonalitiesI’ve been discussing leadership personalities and the importance of evaluating leadership potential using personality types. I believe that past performance isn’t sufficient for finding and selecting tomorrow’s leaders. There are too many complex global challenges that future leaders will face.

An excellent book, Michael Maccoby in Narcissistic Leaders: Who Succeeds and Who Fails (Crown Business, 2012) offers a great review of personality types as they show up in leadership in organizations.

The four leadership personality types are erotics (not a sexual term), obsessives, marketing, and narcissistic. This post describes obsessive leaders and marketing personality types.

Obsessives” are driven by a need for security, consistency, rules and logical order. You’ll spot them in every field—especially government bureaucracies, engineering firms, and law and financial offices. As leaders, they focus on operations, details and numbers. They’re often called “analytical,” “detail oriented” or “numbers people.” Obsessives are guided by rules set by some higher authority (a father figure, strict conscience or “the way things have always been done”). Most middle managers and some top executives are obsessives, especially CFOs, COOs and some CEOs. The most productive obsessives are viewed as “systematic” or “analytical.”

Obsessives often hold the Number 2 position to a narcissistic CEO—an unbeatable combination of narcissistic vision and obsessive implementation. The problems associated with the obsessive personality type are well known:

  • They become mired in details and rules.
  • They lose sight of overall goals.
  • They’re more concerned with doing things “the right way” than doing the right thing.
  • They may become control freaks and/or micromanagers.
  • They resist change to the point of obsolescence.
  • They can be rigid, judgmental and cheap.
  • They insist on being right.

The “marketing personality” describes people who, as the name implies, adapt to the market’s demands. They’re driven by the need to be accepted and fit into society. They sense what the market wants and needs, and they conform to it. They align themselves with key people, thrive on change and seek others’ approval. Most of us adopt some of these aspects to survive in today’s volatile workplace. The biggest challenge with marketing types is their lack of a firm center and continual anxiety. They favor style over substance, spend a lot of energy selling themselves or chasing the next shiny thing, and may be incapable of fully committing to anything or anyone.

Do you recognize these personality types in your workplace? What’s happening in your organization? As always, I’d love to hear from you. Give me a call, 704-827-4474. Or, you can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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