leadership archetypes

Ubiquitous digital networks are extending our capacity to listen and speak with others. In a hyperlinked world, we can tap multiple global perspectives and easily push our own views through various free and inexpensive media options. This is making many traditional centres of expertise, like news sites, obsolete. At the same time, access to important contextual knowledge is limited to the few, such as attendees at the yearly World Economic Forum in Davos. With all of this access to information and knowledge, we are seeing a retrieval of storytelling. The TED talks are one example of finely crafted stories, though their impact and the agenda of sponsors may over time reverse into a single or even false narrative, controlled by a few powerful interests. This is how McLuhan’s laws of media can be useful in seeing what kinds of changes digital networks will bring about in how we communicate as a society in the network era. Every new technology enhances some aspect of humanity, obsolesces some previous technology, retrieves something from our past, and can reverse into the opposite of its initial intention.

communicating tetrad

I recently read David Hutchens’ latest book, Circle of the Nine Muses, and if you you want to master the art of storytelling then I would highly recommend it. I worked with David on a project a couple of years ago, and he is a master of his craft. This book reflects his mastery. Topics include: Four Core Stories, Hosting Story Circles, Listening & Sense-making, and Leadership Archetypes. I want to talk about this last topic.

Sixteen leadership archetypes are identified in the book: Caregiver, Companion, Creator, Everyman, Genie, Hero, Innocent, Jester, Lover, Mentor, Prophet, Rebel, Ruler, Seeker, Storyteller, Wizard. Each one is described in detailed, such as the response to the ‘dragon’ (a challenge one faces). David generously sent me a copy of the cards representing these archetypes and I used them to close my workshop on networked leadership, at the UNISA Graduate School of Business Leadership, two weeks ago. In the exercise I asked the participants to identify three archetypes they would take with them while changing their organization from a hierarchical to a more networked management structure. Two of the archetypes were selected above the others: Rebel & Jester. Each one provides an outside (on the edge) perspective for the journey. As we face the challenge of ‘digital transformation’ or whatever name your organization gives to its current change management initiative, consider not just what you need to do, but who who would like to have beside you. These archetypes can help foster that conversation and focus it so that you can create your own story.

One Response to “leadership archetypes”

  1. David Hutchens

    Thank you Harold for the shoutout for my book “Circle of the 9 Muses.” Wow — a “Rebel / Jester” graduate school? I don’t think I’ve encountered one of those… which is precisely the power of archetypal branding for seizing unique positioning and voice. The opportunity, of course, is to then bring that brand alive by engaging their constituents in stories that make it a source of vitality.

    I also invite your readers to check out my work in leadership storytelling at http://www.DavidHutchens.com


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