Being in China has Converted me from Type A to Type B

In business, china business by Michael Michelini4 Comments

For some reason, when I think of Type A vs. Type B personalities, I think back to my RA (resident assistant) training when I was in college. We would have yearly leadership training, and one of my favorite topics was leadership or management styles of Type A vs Type B.

First I’ll quickly go through these 2 styles in my own words:

  • Type A management style is to do everything yourself, or watch things get done very closely. Some may see it close to micromanaging. Normally they are perfectionists, or at least have a control problem letting others take over projects.
  • Type B management style is to delegate as much as possible. Empower others who have the right skills and are responsible to get the project done. Maybe accept some errors and extra time in the process, but allow others to be empowered.

I have to admit, for the longest time I was a type A. I was so nervous to give others control of projects I was involved with. For fear of a few things:

  • Fear the project wouldn’t be done correctly that my name / reputation is on the line, and anyone else doing this project wouldn’t take the same time and care as myself.
  • Fear I would “be cut out” of the process, or seen as a middleman without value. Hate to say it, but in China this is a fear many have, and many have justifiably. You do have to take care of your positioning and prove that you are adding value.

I was type A well before I came to China. I remember having to edit my own e-commerce stores, getting frustrated trying to train virtual assistants, and just saying to myself (and Andrew was there with me too) “its just faster to do it myself than to try to explain it to someone else and manage them (push them to do it).

Why Did I Change in China?

I quickly realized, for so many reasons, that I needed entrust others in order to get projects done. I couldn’t speak Chinese at all when I came (and still have a long way to go, unfortunately ) and when I hired I choose someone I could trust over someone who may have more skill. Maybe this was a mistake, but at the same time, I have heard lots of horror stories about business leads getting swept into a side .txt file. I had no choice but to trust people around me.

And yes, that is risky. People ask me all the time how I can stomach this risk. Over years and years of doing this I have gotten better at “stomaching it”, but I try to get everyone to see the big picture. Long term over short term. Why are we doing this.

I knew I needed to hire and manage more skilled experts, but still was afraid of “getting cut out”. I have worked on building up a team of loyal and enabled staff who get projects done and take ownership of them. As I learned from ******* Gillian Musseig, a CEO’s job is to protect his/her team, and bring in projects that add value to his/her business.

I have gotten feedback from previous staff too, I used to take any project, and they would doubt me. They wouldn’t see the vision. They felt used.

Still Working on Team Building

I believe this is my main job, both in Shadstone consulting + Chinese social media business, as well as in Startup weekend in China. I have to attract good people to work around me. There are sayings in business to surround yourself with people better than you.

And the team is holistic, that is staff, customers, co-owners, investors, and even the general public watching. Let everyone cheer you on.

Maybe I didn’t need to come to China to convert myself to Type B, but it really helped force me to face it sooner than later.

Related Posts


  1. The best is when you can actually identify someone who is even better at something than you are and empower them.

    1. Yes, think all managers / bosses are looking for as many of those people as they can find!

      But I still have to sometimes manage fighting between these empowered people.

  2. A good entrepreneur, a good leader… builds teams.  They learn the strengths of their colleagues, those around them and help place them in the right positions.  It’s not easy.  For success as an expat in China, starting their ventures, from my experience, I believe it’s an absolute must.  Sounds like you got the right idea, Michael and appreciate the energy from your posts. 

  3. i do not know how you find good
    people keep trying and you get better
    when you empower people you feel good

Leave a Comment