The Types of Leadership: Defining Your Role With Your CoFounder
Updated: Dec 16, 2021
Do you know what type of leader you want to be in your business? In order to know the answer to that, you need to know yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses, very well.
The same goes for your cofounder.
To have a well balanced dynamic as cofounders, and to run a business smoothly you want to make sure that each of you is accountable for the areas where you excel as individuals.
'All models are wrong but some are useful.' ~ George E.P. Box
As humans we love to categorise; it's our way of putting aspects of life into neat little boxes in order to understand and convey them better.
While every model, every systemised structure is effectively wrong - nothing can hold all the truth - some models are helpful for reference, and to consolidate our understanding.
Personality profiling helps us to frame and understand our traits and those of others; particularly useful for the people we work with.
What Type of Leader Are You?
Running a business is a bit like putting on a performance, or making a movie: there's the opening, the middle and the end.
The opening is how you hook your audience; in a movie it's where the storyline and characters are introduced, and how it's portrayed determines how engaged the audience will be.
The middle is where the plot thickens, the story deepens and the viewers get a chance to get really immersed in the experience. What matters most here is a consistent storyline with no loose ends: a solid script, good acting and production.
The end of the film is where the resolution is found in one way or another; the grand finale. The audience's expectations are either met and satisfied or not, and the ending determines what the audience are left feeling.
How does this relate to leadership when running a business?
The 'opening' leader is the one who's great at the pitch, with people and at sales. This is the business owner who gets everyone onboard, excited and engaged for the project ahead.
The 'middle' leader is best at running the machine; the operations and systems. A highly organised and systematic individual is key here, to maintain consistency and ensure nothing is amiss.
The 'end' leader works best under pressure, making the big decisions about the future of the company. Dealing with conflict resolution, determining whether to sell or find investment, innovate further, and/or settle into a lifestyle around the business.
When you know yourself and your cofounder well enough, you'll be able to gauge who fits into which of these leader categories and hence which aspects of the business you're each best suited to.
It's not just to do with your most apparent strengths and weaknesses however; sometimes we're not even aware of where our true strengths lie because we have limiting beliefs about ourselves that hold us back.
This is where personality profiling comes in...
Learn your personality type: OCEAN Profiling
Known as the Big Five or Five Factor model, OCEAN was formulated based on decades of research and is a very widely acclaimed theory on personality types.
There are 5 dimensions, and individuals all have a scalable degree of each which tally up to a their unique personality combination:
Openness: how open or conservative is your thinking?
Conscientiousness: how diligent and industrious are you?
Extroversion: where on the scale of extrovert - introvert are you?
Agreeableness: are you more inclined to be polite or critical?
Neuroticism: are you more likely to act impulsively, or to worry and act less?
None of these traits are strictly positive or negative: it's the balance they create between the 5 that says the most about who you are and how you relate with others, and therefore what type of leader you can be in your business.
Someone who scores high on openness would make a good 'opening' leader, (the stereotypical entrepreneur)
If you score highly on conscientiousness you'd likely make a good 'middle' leader, (the stereotypical operator)
The scores which would best suit the 'end' leader role depend on the ideal close for the business. A good level of neuroticism could be good in some instances, as this will mean you're likely to consider all the potential risks.
What quality of energy do you put out most often? ELI: The Energy Leadership Index
Another personality profiling model I have found useful in my practice as a coach, and also in my experience as a cofounder, is the Energy Leadership Index.
Here, seven levels of energy are outlined to describe the type of energy an individual experiences and expresses outwardly, and to discern whether you're a leader who tends towards a catabolic or anabolic energy.
The seven energies are as follows, starting with the most catabolic on a scale to the most anabolic:
Victim; demonstrating lack of choice.
Anger; resistance and combativeness
Compassion; care for others
Reconciliation; no winner or loser.
Oneness; passion for all aspects of life.
As with the OCEAN model, there are no good or bad energy types here per se, each has its own set of pros and cons when managing a team or running a business.
The ELI assessment is a helpful way of analysing what emotions and eventually what behaviour you naturally invest your energy into.
We all have the capacity to occupy all 7 levels at different times, and in different circumstances. The more aware you and your cofounder become about what energies you are unconsciously inclined to occupy, the more consciously you can control which level you want to be at, to avoid getting stuck.
This is a great way to raise your awareness to what's possible. Both in your position and behaviour as a leader, and within your dynamic as cofounders.
What can be done to change and improve your ways, both energetically and behaviourally?
Profiling is a useful tool to enhance your ability to do your job effectively, and to strike your own unique balance between your intertwining roles as founder, team member, and leader.
It can allow you to shift from lamenting your cofounder or coworker's traits to supporting them to grow.
Not only that, through these profiling models and getting to know you and your cofounder's natural tendencies, you will also discover what traits are lacking in your dynamic and what you want to look for in your next team member, to allow the dynamic to shift in an effective direction for your business.