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In corporate leadership, there are people who think of business as a chess game and those who think of it as a soccer game. ~Alex Furman

Stashed in: Leadership!, Leadership

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A view on leadership styles: "Just occurred to me that there are basically two poles in the corporate leadership spectrum, the people who think of business as a chess game and the people who think of it as a soccer game."

Soccer people are easy to manage. Chess people are hard to manage.

The chess-people plan far ahead, think in terms of organizational structure. Everyone has a place and a function. The chain of command is everything. Change-management protocols reign supreme. They're neat and structured and rigid. They pray at the altar of org-charts and organizational theory. They read lots of business literature and will, on the spot, recite the 10 qualities of this-or-that, the 7 pitfalls of something-else, and the 5 things everyone must do to be successful. They use military analogies and talk about the troops and the lieutenants and the generals.

The soccer people are the opposite. They thrive on chaos - it provides opportunity. They frown on structure and openly flaunt their disregard for the command-and-control style of the chess people. They worship the individual contributor, the visionary product-person, the 10x engineer. They think that over-planning is for morons. They also like military analogies, but talk about special forces, war rooms, swat teams. They're full of anecdotes of how a small team of motivated people did in 2 days what whole organizations couldn't in years. They, for the most part, don't read business literature*, since it's written by and for chess people.

Soccer people are easy and chess people are hard? Hmmm...

He said that context matters.

Soccer people are way easier to manage. It's not hard to convince them, at any given point in time, that we need to go into chess mode.

Chess people are really hard to manage. A flip to soccer is stressful. They're prone to get lost and flounder in the chaos.

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