While I know what follows is a gross over-simplification, I’ve come
to believe there are fundamentally only three types of people in
- Builders – At the front of every train you typically have
the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are all about ‘what could be’. They
envision the world the way they want to create it and then set out to
make that vision a reality. Entrepreneurs are typically described as
both visionary or charasmatic.
- Executers – In the middle car you have those that were born
to execute. Executers might not brainstorm your next innovation, but
once an idea is hatched, they can execute the heck out of it.
- Protectors – At the back of the train you have the
protector. Neither innovation nor execution mean anything to a
protector, who is motivated only to protect and guard what’s
already been won in terms of assets. Protectors are better at
saying “no” than anything else, for fear that any movement might
somehow deminish or dwindle what’s been harvested by those before them.
I believe people are born into one of these three basic profiles,
and while they might improve their ability to both appreciate and fake
acting differently, they are basically, at their core, religated to one
or the other.
I also believe that companies, as they experience a natural cycle of
maturity, tend to attract more leaders, visionaries and builders in the
early stages of their life, only to give way over time to the
protector, or those that are brought in to protect what’s been won.
The key to building a great company which stands the test of
time is to understand these three basic types of people, and to hire
the right mix at any moment in time. Hiring too many protectors too
early could paralyze a business, have none in later stage companies and
you’d run the risk of being too risky.