In the 1940s and 1950s, when personality archetypes and behavior theories were emerging as seminal fields of study to add to the trait theory literature, it was posited that people were hard-wired to fit into one of three neat, clear-cut predispositions for the purposes of personality classification—namely, Type A, Type B, and Type A/B individuals.
Type A individuals are competitive, inquisitive, and easily bored with routine; they have a “short fuse,” often feel impatient, and may be aggressive. These individuals may also have a difficult time relaxing, staying focused on details, and maintaining stability in any one place for long periods of time. Type B people are the direct opposite: They can relax easily, tend to maintain focus on activities and projects, see stability as comforting, and can be perceived as more social and easygoing. 35 Type A/B individuals may present characteristics of both personality traits and present characteristics in either dimension depending on environment, circumstance, and mood. Type A/B personalities are said to be balanced personalities and can find comfort in a variety of situations.
Although there is no direct evidence that any of the personal predispositions aids in leadership development and success, a growing body of work suggests that Type A individuals have higher burnout and mortality rates. 36 There is general agreement in the literature that individuals are predisposed to present behaviors in either the Type A or B modality. Even so, it may be possible for individuals to switch over and mimic personality characteristics and behaviors of the other dynamic based on their education, work stimulus, and coping skills.
Knowing which archetype best defines an individual creates leverage in the workplace. Successful Type B individuals will know when to “turn on” and become excited and committed to projects and ventures. This posture can be mimicked until the work is completed. Likewise, Type A individuals can present a high locus of control and know when to mitigate their own emotions and instincts to perform more cooperatively in group work and interdisciplinary team dynamics.