The eight archetypes of leadership

A leading academic in leadership development has outlined eight leadership ‘archetypes’ that HR should be able to recognise – but why?

Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, professor of leadership development and organizational change at INSEAD, recently outlined the ‘eight archetypes of leadership’ in a Harvard Business Review article.

“Most of us have recognized by now that successful organizations are the product of distributive, collective, and complementary leadership,” he wrote. “The first step in putting together such a team is to identify each member of the team’s personality makeup and leadership style, so that strengths and competences can be matched to particular roles and challenges.”

He added that employers typically see a number of recurring behavioural patterns that influence an individual’s effectiveness within an organisation. 

“I think of these patterns as leadership ‘archetypes’, reflecting the various roles executives can play in organisations,” Kets de Vries said. “It is a lack of fit between a leader’s archetype and the context in which he or she operates [that] is a main cause of team and organizational dysfunctionality and executive failure.”

Kets de Vries’ most prominent leadership archetypes are:

The strategist: leadership as a game of chess

These people are good at dealing with developments in the organization’s environment. They provide vision, strategic direction and innovative thinking to create new organisational forms and generate future growth.

The change-catalyst: leadership as a turnaround activity

These leaders love messy situations. They are masters at re-engineering and creating new organisational “blueprints.”

The transactor: leadership as deal making

These leaders are great dealmakers. Skilled at identifying and tackling new opportunities, they thrive on negotiations.

The builder: leadership as an entrepreneurial activity

‘Builders’ dream of creating something, and have the talent and determination to make their dream come true.

The innovator: leadership as creative idea generation

These people are focused on the new. They possess a great capacity to solve extremely difficult problems.

The processor: leadership as an exercise in efficiency

‘Processors’ like their organisations to be run smoothly like well-oiled machines. They are very effective at setting up the structures and systems needed to support an organisation’s objectives.

The coach: leadership as a form of people development

These leaders know how to get the best out of people, thus creating high performance cultures.

The communicator: leadership as stage management

This style of leadership is generated by great influencers, who have a considerable impact on their surroundings.

“Working out which types of leaders you have on your team can work wonders for your effectiveness as a group,” Kets de Vries advised. “It helps you to recognize how you and your colleagues can individually make their best contributions. This will in turn create a culture of mutual support and trust, reduce team stress and conflict, and make for more creative problem solving.”

“It also informs your search for new additions to the team,” he added. “What kinds of personality and skills are you missing?”

To read the original article, click here.

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