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Leadership archetypes: an exposition

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In this article it is argued that an individualistic notion of leadership is inadequate, given the increased complexity of the work environment. Although the "Great Man or Woman" theories still linger, most scholars of leadership now recognize that successful organizations are characterized by a distributive, collective, complementary form of leadership. To further explore this form of leadership, eight leadership archetypes are proposed in this paper: Strategist, Change-catalyst, Transactor, Builder, Innovator, Processor, Coach and Communicator. These archetypes are representations of ways of leading in the complex organizational environment. They may be seen as prototypes that provide us with models for understanding leadership behavior. In the discussion of each leadership archetype, specific characteristics and limitations are explored. In addition, some of the dos and don'ts of working for or managing people possessing these specific leadership behavior patterns are highlighted. These in-depth descriptions form the foundation for developing a Leadership Archetype Questionnaire (LAQ), a 360° survey instrument designed to allow leaders to identify their own leadership archetype characteristics. Clinical research revealed that although individuals may "drift" toward one particular archetype, it is more common for a person to possess the characteristics of a number of archetypes; "hybrids" are the rule rather than the exception. It is important to keep in mind that each of these leadership archetypes will prove more or less effective depending on the organizational situation; therefore the ideal executive team should include people with diverse dominant leadership archetype characteristics. An executive team in which multiple leadership archetypes are represented should be able to cover all the leadership needs that are required, whatever the context.

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