All in the Family

Whereas Mountain Climbers are usually more autocratic in their management style, Freedom Fighters are consensus builders. They tend to hire friends and family or treat employees as if they were. Freedom Fighters often demonstrate this paternalistic style by continuing to employ weak employees despite poor performance. This closeness is akin to that in a family, making firing someone emotionally difficult.

I remember one interview with a Freedom Fighter named Alan. Alan runs a small, five-person public relations firm and is a classic Freedom Fighter. To understand Alan, you have to go back a generation to get to know Alan's father who was a very successful banker. Alan and his father enjoyed a close relationship until Alan was 14, when his father died suddenly. Alan and his older sister were devastated. Alan's sister followed in her father's footsteps in the investment-banking world. Alan took a different route. Although Alan enjoyed a blue-blooded pedigree, a quick mind, and a wealth of connections—the usual prerequisites for a successful career on

Wall Street—Alan decided to forgo the money and prestige of banking to start his own company. Alan's independent streak was born out of a rebellion against the establishment that had taken his father's life so prematurely.

Today, Alan's company has five employees who are more like his family than his staff. They eat together, enjoy weekends at Alan's summer home, and all pitch in taking care of Alan's sheepdog (and office mascot), Whistler.

Once, Alan confided in me about an employee of his who was underperforming. He couldn't work out what to do. She seemed unmotivated and distracted and was often absent without explanation. If Alan were a Mountain Climber, he would have fired her months before, fearing that an under-performing employee would jeopardize his growth. But Alan is a Freedom Fighter and therefore continued to employ her for months longer than he should have.

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