Traits of future leaders

When you consider the traditional American company govt from 50 years in the past, what “sort” involves thoughts? Most likely the Marlboro Man: a hypermasculine fiftyish white man, stern and stoic, making flinty-eyed choices primarily based on the cold-blooded math of revenue and loss. Don Draper meets Jack Welch.

For many years, that stereotype held American enterprise in a chokehold. A 2005 Catalyst report discovered that ladies in enterprise had been seen as caretakers whereas males “took cost.” Even lecturers weighed in: A 2011 meta-analysis discovered that individuals related leaders with historically masculine adjectives like “dominant,” “forceful,” and “aggressive.” Girls, alternatively, had been “heat,” “compassionate,” and “affectionate.”

Guess these researchers by no means met Elizabeth Holmes, proper? Rimshot. However we digress.


Much more telling was that when feminine leaders displayed the identical qualities admired in male leaders, they had been seen as pushy, abrasive…bitchy. Despite the fact that analysis suggests they’re higher at main via a disaster. One other 2011 study discovered that, as a result of of stereotyping, Black leaders had been evaluated negatively regardless of their efficiency. Even God is generally depicted as an previous (undoubtedly straight) white dude.

Stereotypes are a perceptual shorthand that lets us shortly slot individuals into classes, and generally they’re helpful—that’s, till the info get in the way in which. Nicely, the info about what makes a pacesetter on this new world of distant work and the Nice Resignation have modified. As soon as, the chiseled-jaw charisma of a celeb CEO was sufficient to bewitch workers and preserve them from looking for greener pastures, however no extra. There’s a brand new sheriff on the town, and he/she/they don’t look a rattling factor like Clint Eastwood.

Stereotypes are entitlements

Varieties have all the time been a type of entitlement. Till just lately, being a straight, white, Christian male with an Ivy League schooling entitled you to take the specific lane to a nook workplace. Irrespective of your career or pursuit, conforming to a sure sort entitled you to be taken critically, rating prime alternatives, and revel in a smoother glide path towards your objectives.

We’ve skilled this. After we launched our branding company, Motto, practically fifteen years in the past, nobody gave us a re-evaluation as a result of we didn’t match the “sort.” We had been a pair of younger women with guts who had the audacity to problem a branding business dominated by (say it with us) middle-aged white guys. Established businesses disrespected and undermined us to the purpose the place we nearly stop . . . till their finest shoppers began coming to us as a result of our work was contemporary and new.

For each sort, there’s somebody who obliterates it. Exhibit A: Patton Oswalt, a stocky comedy and TV star with an infinite, Lego-block head, a ripsaw stage voice that’s a cross between Kermit the Frog and the late Sam Kinison, and a wit that’s half doting dad, half perverted uber-nerd. But he sells out venues and charms followers in numbers that extra debonair performers can solely dream about.

Exhibit B: Simone Biles. The GOAT matches the gymnast bodily stereotype—tiny, agile, and highly effective—however she defied each expectation throughout the 2021 Summer season Video games when she walked away from Olympic gold for the sake of her psychological well being. Wait, what? Isn’t being an Olympian all about sacrificing every little thing for an opportunity to face on that podium? Not anymore. Biles, rightly hailed as a hero for placing self-care above sport, modified the sport.


Exhibit C: Martine Rothblatt, a transgender American lawyer, entrepreneur, and trans rights advocate who additionally occurs to be CEO of $1.4 billion biotech firm United Therapeutics. In 2018, she was additionally the highest-paid chief govt within the biopharmaceutical business.

But when time and an more and more numerous society have worn down the John Wayne chief stereotype, like an elusive boxer slipping punches, COVID-19 was the haymaker that put it on the canvas. When employers despatched everybody dwelling in 2020, thousands and thousands of particular person contributors realized (maybe for the primary time) that they actually favored not having their bosses wanting over their shoulders and delivering hackneyed motivational speeches. To assist them climate the nervousness and isolation, what they wanted had been superiors who may present connection, relatability, vulnerability, and humanity.

Sadly, too many leaders, handcuffed to the stereotypes that obtained them to the C-suite within the first place, did not reply that decision. Consequently, every little thing has modified. In September 2021, a file 4.4 million individuals walked away from their jobs looking for higher pay and higher which means. That unprecedented labor void has given employees unprecedented energy, they usually’re sending a loud, clear message. They’re fed up with demigod CEOs and empty fits whose chief qualification is wanting like they belong at board conferences. They’re throwing their help behind relatable, fallible women and men who admit once they’re improper, put on their values on their sleeves, and care about individuals. At the moment’s employees need to have a look at their leaders and see equals.

The reign of Uncommon Breeds

However loads of us are misfits, outcasts, or troublemakers who don’t play effectively with others, proper? That implies that on this new world, the best leaders shall be unconventional geniuses who hail from each doable background. These individuals also have a identify: Uncommon Breeds.

Uncommon Breeds are nonconformists who gleefully defy mainstream management stereotypes. In truth, they are often recognized within the wild by one of seven Virtues (generally mislabeled “vices” by the ignorant and terrified):

  • Rebellious
  • Audacious
  • Obsessed
  • Sizzling-blooded
  • Bizarre
  • Hypnotic
  • Emotional
  • Previously, Uncommon Breeds stuffed a corporation’s quota of perfectionist designers, Physician Who-quoting engineers, temperamental academics, or damn-the-torpedoes enterprise growth individuals, however they had been hardly ever greater than fringe gamers, barely tolerated and even much less understood. In the event that they had been entitled to something, it was largely snickers (not the great form), head shakes, and eye rolls.

    However as we speak, going through a altering local weather, mutating viruses, fragile provide chains and a labor rebellion, organizations now not have the luxurious of elevating leaders who match a sure sort and praying they’re greater than empty fits. We’d like provocative innovators, harmful new views, and large concepts simply loopy sufficient to work. We’d like management and we’d like it now. We received’t get it from the Marlboro Males. We’ll get it from the nerds and weirdos. We’ll get it from Uncommon Breeds.

    In truth, Uncommon Breeds are already main, defying sorts and expectations. Lachi, a New York-based singer, musician, songwriter, voice actor, and producer who’s additionally Black and blind, is breaking floor as an outspoken advocate for higher inclusion of individuals with disabilities within the arts. In November, Vito Perillo was re-elected mayor of Tinton Falls, New Jersey—at 97 years previous. At age twelve, Vinisha Umashankar started designing a solar-powered ironing cart to switch the coal-fired carts that polluted the air of her hometown in southern India; by 2021 her invention had received international acclaim and he or she delivered a passionate speech at COP26, the U.N. local weather change summit.

    Uncommon Breed at scale

    None of these Uncommon Breeds, or the 1000’s of others like them, matches the normal management sort. That’s what makes their rise such trigger for hope. So, who must be satisfied that chief stereotypes are lifeless? First of all, the press. Enterprise journalists need cut-and-dried narratives, they usually both ignore or misrepresent rebels and mavericks. However hand them a fantastic story they usually’ll get it proper.

    Second, shareholders and traders. Quarter-by-quarter considering breeds conservatism and worry of the avant-garde, however these of us all the time reply to outcomes. If Uncommon Breeds ship robust earnings and development, their character, pores and skin coloration, or gender identification don’t matter.

    Lastly, leaders themselves. It’s robust to ask somebody to embrace their very own obsolescence. Nonetheless, the true visionaries acknowledge that one thing has to alter, they usually’ll evolve or step out of the way in which for the following technology. The poseurs and haircuts…effectively, they’ll run aground or fade away.


    One group that doesn’t want convincing? Staff. They know management is damaged, they usually’re prepared to take a look at their leaders and see themselves. Awkward. Impatient. Proud. Wounded. Coarse. BIPOC. Queer. Trans. Bursting with ardour, concepts, and vitality.

    Maybe that’s the brand new “sort.” Authentic.

    How do we discover such individuals? A brand new metric of management: The Uncommon Breed® Character Take a look at. What’s the dominant trait and the way does a pacesetter rating throughout the seven traits of a Uncommon Breed? Do they lead with awe-inducing Audacity like Elon Musk or heart-centric Emotion like Indra Nooyi? Do they bury the needle with Sizzling-Blooded depth like Jeff Bezos or combat with a Rebellious spirit like Steve Jobs as soon as did? The future of management is defiant, harmful, and completely different, and the time has come for Uncommon Breeds to take our place on the entrance of the room.

    Sunny Bonnell and Ashleigh Hansberger are founders of Motto and authors of Rare Breed: A Guide to Success for the Defiant, Dangerous, and Different.