• What kind of leader are you?

    I recently read a blog post by Dr. Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, the Distinguished Professor of Leadership Development and Organizational Change at INSEAD in France. His post was titled the “Eight Archetypes of Leadership.” That post got me thinking about my own experience in consulting to leaders in North America and Europe over three decades. What are the recurring patterns of leadership that I have observed? Some of my experiences are similar to those outlined by de Vries but I’ve added a few of my own. Here is my list.


    Strategist These people are good at sensing changes in an organization’s environment. They provide vision, strategic direction and creative thinking to generate future growth.
    Catalyst These executives are drawn to “messy” and challenging situations. They now how to harness adversity for positive outcomes. ¬†They are masters at causing change to happen.
    Deal maker These executives are great at bringing people and organizations together. They are skilled creating win-win situations and thrive on negotiations.
    Executor These executives know how to get very difficult and ambitious things done. They maintain focus, are persistent and are accountable for their commitments.
    Innovator These people are focused on the new or making things better. They have a relentless discomfort with the status quo.  They are not deterred by failure or constrained by what exists.
    Operator These executives like organizations to be smoothly running, “well-oiled machines”. They are very effective at setting up the structures and systems needed to meet an organization’s objectives.
    Coach These executives know how to get the best out of people. They empower others and encourage the people around them to achieve their ambitions.
    Motivator These executive inspire others to believe in themselves and take action. They are skilled at understanding what people want and work to help them get it. They practice reciprocity with the people around them.
    Chess Master These people are good at thinking five steps ahead. They anticipate changes in their surroundings and envision future scenarios before they present themselves as problems. They build organizations that are agile and adaptive to changing circumstances.
    Dreamer These executives dream of creating things that don’t exist. They attract others who believe in making the impossible possible. They are not constrained by the practical.
    Orchestrator These executives are great influencers – often without full authority. They are skilled at building teams of diverse individuals aligned around a common purpose.


    Of course, most leaders are a combination of several of these types. No one possesses all of these roles. Our effectiveness as leaders is matching our skills and orientation to the presenting circumstances.

    Pushing the Edge of Your Thinking

    • What type(s) do you identify most with?
    • Would your direct reports and colleagues see you the same way?
    • What can you learn from how others experience you as a leader?

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