Startup culture is often portrayed with a laid-back Millennial CEO whose employees attend more launch parties then they do hackathons. Despite this auspicious picture for aspiring startup founders, running a successful startup requires organization, precision and dedication. But that doesn't mean startups don't employ the laid back types who excel in other areas.  

Type A versus Type B personalities were first brought to light in the 1950s by cardiologists Meyer Friedman and R.H. Rosenham, who linked the high stress lifestyle of Type A people to a greater risk of heart disease. Their theory categorized people as Type A or Type B based on their personality traits.  

Type A people are goal-oriented, highly competitive, motivated to avoid failure and exceed expectations, and rigidly organized. Type B people work steadily and enjoy the journey to meeting goals more than the thrill of completion, and they tend prioritize creativity and reflection.  

Type A leaders are often miscategorized as micromanagers who wish every employee was just like them. "My way or the highway," right? Wrong.  

One of the best aspects about working at a startup is the wealth of unique personalities that come through the door and influence how you think. The only way to stay open to every idea is by adapting your leadership style to meet everybody's needs.  

Here are three things you must consider as a Type A leader managing Type B employees:

Focus more on the process than on the deadline.

There's no doubt deadlines are vital to operations, but simply telling a Type B employee that a project is due by Friday won't motivate them to attack it with ambition. Whereas you, a Type A person, would be motivated by exceeding the deadline expectation, a Type B person cares more about the journey than the destination.

Instead of turning a Type B employee loose with a looming due date, suggest ways they can make the project itself more intriguing, whether that involves making connections with new people or brainstorming an inventive approach.  

Set broad goals and avoid numbers.

Six-month review time means setting new employee goals. For a Type A person, those goals might be to increase sales by X percent or acquire X number of new clients. For a Type B person, you should set goals that focus on how they can be creative and make a better experience at work for themselves and their coworkers.

Maybe you still want them to increase sales by X percent, but tell them why doing so will make their work life richer. The path to the goal is more important that the goal itself.  

Build teams based on mission and balance.

Remember when you were in school, and your teacher would break you into groups based on last name? You would almost inevitably end up in a group with people whose personalities clashed. Maybe two people wanted to control the group, or nobody wanted to lead, or one person had to do all of the work.

As a leader in your company, when you're creating teams, it's important to consider how each personality type will work together and what the team is slated to achieve. Type A people are more likely to take control while Type B people will go with the flow. On the other hand, Type B people are more likely to contribute creative ideas, making them ideal for strategic campaigns or design jobs.  

Startup culture is anything but laid back, however understanding how to cater to both Type A and Type B employees certainly alleviates a lot of the stress associated with being a leader. The road to startup success is best paved when everyone at the company feels valued.

Published on: Nov 22, 2017