Archetypes-chart-poissy use this copy 2Do you know which archetypes are at play in yourself, your team or your organisation? Probably not – because archetypes are part of the intangible culture you are steeped in – a bit like Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility. Here, Dawn Bentley explains how archetypes can help leaders to make sense of the culture that surrounds them.

Organisational cultures become embedded over time and usually stem from the behaviours, values and beliefs of the founders of the organisation – Apple being a frequently cited example.

As a leader, it’s therefore worth understanding how the way you behave both serves to create the culture of the team or organisation you lead.

One tool I use to help bring this to life is ‘Archetypes’. Archetypes can help you to:

  • Understand where your strengths lie
  • Identify your blind spots, and
  • Understand the culture of your team or organisation

Most of us are aware, at least to some degree, of our strengths and that when over-played, our strengths can become weaknesses. But how does this play out culturally? What shadow does this cast?

If, for example, your strength is that you are always stretching people to continuously improve, this could be seen as nothing is ever good enough for you. This is an aspect of the Seeker archetype.

If your strength is that you are great at coming up with ideas and being creative– it may be that few things get followed through or people are working hard to deliver on all of these ideas not knowing which are actually important. This is characteristic of the Creator archetype.

If your strength is that you are great at seeing the pitfalls in things, you may find that people do not bring ideas to you for fear of them being ‘pulled apart’. This is indicative of the Sage.

Our archetypes also generate our ‘blindspots’. These can often be uncovered by examining the things that irritate us.

Do people who constantly challenge the ideas you put forward irritate you? (Warrior).

Do people who are always having fun and telling jokes annoy you? (Jester).

When someone tells you that you need to understand what it feels like to be in someone else’s shoes – do you feel rather vexed? (Caregiver)

As individual leaders, we may deny or prevent certain behaviours from being expressed because of the Archetypes driving us. Discovering which Archetypes are driving your decisions and actions is a way of understanding what limitations you may be unconsciously imposing onto your team or your organisation?

The Culture you create

Taking responsibility for our own ‘shadow’, whether as a strength or a blindspot, provides you with the opportunity to explore the treasures that lie beneath if you were to manage it more consciously and also to understand how your behaviour as a leader is creating the culture you are leading.

None of us are perfect. However, being true to who you are with all your strengths and vulnerabilities means you stand a chance of becoming an authentic, compelling leader.

There is a quick and easy online tool that will give you a picture of how all 12 of the archetypes are operating for you (and for those in your team). With some further exploration, you can become more conscious about how you ‘show up’ as a leader and see how you may be responsible for the environment you find yourself in.

If this article has piqued your interest and you are curious to find out what archetypal patterns are at play in your life, give us a call.

Call us on 01494 564049 or email us to find out more.

If you would like to know more about Dawn Bentley, click here