The management secrets of Lennon and McCartney

With the Beatles Rock Band video game firmly ensconced in the world’s living rooms, their CDs remastered and plans for John Lennon’s 70th birthday celebration growing worldwide, John, Paul, George and Ringo are more prominent and successful than ever.

An important reason the Beatles were so adored and attracted worldwide attention long after breaking up is that they represent four distinct human archetypes that have significant relevance to work teams. They can provide practical insight into leading organizations.

The Beatles HR Test

If you ask employees who their favorite Beatle is, they will almost respond with a psychologically revealing answer. Here is what those answers reveal.

The John Lennon Manager

Men will almost universally pick John as their favourite Beatle; he is the alpha male and group founder. But the difficult part to figure out is whether the response is trustworthy or not. It’s very projective. A man who picks John may in fact be the organization’s troublemaker. He wants management to see him as John but maybe he isn’t. It’s up to the insightful manager to figure out whether all the Lennon-like bravado is for real or for show.

Every company needs a “Paul”

Women overwhelmingly select Paul as their favourite. Identifying with Paul is a good sign. Paul made people happy with tuneful melodies. You want that in an organization. Someone who will work hard and think of the customer—they like love songs. That’s what organizations are about anyway—getting things done, hopefully strategically, but at least on time and on budget.

The wild cards—George and Ringo

Those who identify with George and Ringo are vital parts of an organization’s success. In the back behind the drum kit, Ringo the timekeeper tosses off a forgettable song or two, but holds the organization together. Isn’t that what is absolutely necessary in the accounting department or in administrative functions? Your timekeeper/administrator need to be reminded that without them, there would be no organization.

Understanding George’s style

Both men and women pick the quiet and unappreciated George as a favourite for similar reasons. Somewhere in your organization, there is a George (and not the one in Seinfeld) seething away. He feels ignored and belittled. It’s up to the insightful leader to cultivate these personalities. They might come with difficulties—as George was also mystical—but they can also be devastatingly influential, even though they are introspective and the CEO might wonder why you are wasting time on the person who never speaks up.

Top management doesn’t get John and Paul

There are those who management knows but don’t get—John—and those management gets but might not be comfortable with—Paul.  Yet they are the top talents. Management may ignore George and sometimes Ringo, but they do so at their own peril. The point is to put all four together in a team that works.

Even great talent needs managers

Each of these archetypes described portrayed team members with abundant talent—they might have become stars on their own. But they languished in Hamburg and Liverpool until encountering managers who understood how to direct them. In your organization, figure out who John and Paul are as they are the clear leaders and find the Georges and the Ringos (and learn how to deal with them). Then reshuffle the deck. Profits to follow.