It is amazing what you pick up from centuries past, isn't it? The title of the blog post refers to types of leaders - modern day management styles, if you like - and , of course they could still be applicable today, 200+ years on.I am reading an excellent book called In the Heart of the Sea, the true story that inspired Moby Dick. Very simply, it is the story of Whaling ship from Nantucket, USA, that got attacked and sunk by a huge sperm whale, leaving the crew to survive in the Pacific in their rowing boats. It is the story of attrition, survival and the men stuck on these very small craft for three months.
On one of these whalers, there were three men in charge (with twenty further crew), with the captain being the leader, and the Mate being his deputy.
What is interesting is that back in the 1700's and 1800's they knew what made a good Captain and a good Mate and they were able to articulate it accordingly.
The greatest compliment they could pay someone from Nantucket was to call them 'Fishy to the Backbone". this meant that the person was authoritarian, lacked the tendency to self-doubt and self-examination that could get in the way of making a decision.
(It is a shame that a good few people managers I know, are not 'fishy to the backbone' - they are more like indecisive blobs of jelly!!)
What is interesting is the management style of the No 2 in these whalers - the Mate. They were chosen for their 'social' skills!
Of course they needed an element of being 'fishy to the backbone', but more importantly they had to temper this with a more personal, outgoing approach. They were there to instill a sense of cooperation amongst the men. This required them to remain sensitive to the crew's changeable moods and keep the lines of communication open. (Bear in mind that a whaler typically went away for 2 years at a time)
So even all those years ago, and in seemingly brutal times, the Owners of the whaling ships, knew how to effectively manage their crews - they would balance the contrasting personalities of a Captain and a Mate, to get the best from their crew.
They had a saying at that time which said, "it is a pity to spoil a good mate by making him a master".
Not all the Mates had the edge to become a Captain, and there were future Captains who didn't have the patience to be successful Mates.
Makes you think doesn't it? Hundreds of years ago, but the fundamentals of people management are somewhat similar aren't they?
I bet you can identify some 'Captains' and 'Mates' within your own companies, who just maybe are in the wrong job? I have certainly known a few in my time!