EDITOR’S COLUMN: Type B with straight As

Personalizing success and leadership

To me, leadership has never been synonymous with dominance.

I’ve found myself in leadership positions ever since I was a young student. Because of this, people assume I’m something like “Type A.”

While I enjoy leading and know how to succeed academically, I don’t align with the image of a strictly organized, competitive and domineering worker.

A group like the Torch works best when we work together. We don’t have room in our office for the domineering type, and I’ve seen our best content produced through teamwork rather than competition.

Categorizing people into large groups based on small personality traits is as common as it is nonsensical.

The Guardian dates the terms Type A and Type B date back to the 1950s. The hypothesis was not a product of psychologists, but cardiologists.

Cardiologists Meyer Friedman and RH Rosenman established their definition of Type A as workaholics whose concern with achievement led them to a higher risk of heart disease.

Those considered Type B were more patient, even-tempered and content with their lives. They also measured lower on the traditional scale of professional and financial success.

There are fundamental problems with the foundation of these 70-year-old terms that are still used today.

First and foremost, research on Type A and Type B personalities was for decades partially funded by the tobacco industry.

Naturally, the link between personality type and heart conditions was an extremely attractive hypothesis for cigarette companies.

Because the hypothesis is a product of its time, it also largely excluded participants outside of the standard group of white men.

How many traits that we socially expect and accept from our leaders are traditionally masculine?

An enormous majority of the Torch’s editorial staff are not men. I find that we can cultivate a collaborative leadership environment with a range of personality “types.”

Categorizing personalities all contribute to a two-dimensional image of leadership. Our national leaders still largely remain in an exclusive club of those who are more masculine, aggressive and motivated by personal gain.

We should stray from this image and, frankly, any study that claims to cleanly place people into two definite types.

Anyone who would call me Type A because of my grade point average or the contents of my resume has never seen how unorganized my living space is.

I am not motivated by glory and massive financial gain. Anyone who is should stay far away from journalism. The most important thing that this field has taught me is how to join the conversation while keeping myself out of the story.