I had an interesting chat recently with a colleague. Basically, the chat came down to this: there are two kinds of leaders and/or ‘experts’. There are Builders. And then there are Ripper-Uppers.

The most skilled, obviously, are builders. These are leaders who can tear things apart, or start from square one, and build a product or plan that’s better than before. Builders excel at communications.

Here’s the story line about Ripper-Uppers. These people are skilled at breaking things apart, ripping out the guts, being critical of the status quo, and talking a good game about what needs to be done. Ripper-Uppers often sail along based on the premise that there is always a ‘problem’. The reality says something much different. They stumble at communicating. They don’t appear to know where they’re headed. They lack the skills and know-how to rebuild what they’ve broken apart. As a result, what they have broken apart only splinters and splinters more. It’s organizational quicksand. There is seldom an escape.

Builders, on the other hand, have a clear vision. They know what needs to be dismantled, reshuffled, eliminated or introduced. The whole time, their vision is set on the building stage — and, of course, the end goal. They have a plan to recover, improve and/or succeed. They communicate this plan. Their actions convey confidence in staff or clients. Workers embrace builders because there is a sense of direction. They know they’re in good hands. Builders have the tools, experience and know-how to get the job done.

Which type of leader or ‘expert’ do you have?

Hopefully the communication is clear.