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What’s the archetype of a next-decade leader?

“Does a leadership archetype exist? And if it does, how do I find more people who are genetically wired that way?”

5 min read



“Does a leadership archetype exist? And if it does, how do I find more people who are genetically wired that way?”

That was the tough question posed to me recently by Jeff, a CEO who was desperately seeking talent for his fast-growing startup. We had been discussing the passion archetypes of his top team and reviewing the particular strengths the archetypes each person held could bring to the business. Two universities have studied the passion archetypes, which were first identified and measured through the Passion Profiler, a tool developed by Purpose Linked Consulting.

The conclusion is that we are all wired with 10 distinct passion archetypes, but we express them uniquely, and each archetype demonstrates a particular pattern of behavior in the workplace (and in one’s personal life as well.) Here is an overview of their contribution to leadership thinking:

Look, this is probably my last startup,” Jeff continued. “I want the company to thrive well into the future, and I want to develop a stable of potential successors to take this business to the next level. Technology is changing at light speed and we’ve got to do more than just keep up; we’ve got to anticipate and innovate. I need someone with the energy and mental chops to make that happen.”

I asked Jeff about his current staff and whom among them he thought performed particularly well. He began by telling me about the woman he’d hired to lead the tech team who had a strong Processor archetype and could be counted on for efficiency and accuracy.

Another star, in Jeff’s opinion, was the president of manufacturing. He was an “Olympic-level Builder”, who delivered product on time and within quality standards despite battling numerous supplier challenges over the last six months. In Jeff’s estimation, these two were the leaders he could count on today, but he wasn’t certain they could effectively lead the company in the coming decade, when competition in his industry sector would be even more intense.

Jeff is thinking like a next-decade leader. He understands that success in an environment of growing unpredictability and change will require more than effective execution and low production costs. Without infusing into the culture a thirst for innovation and the energy required to thrive and win, his company could end up as a footnote in some Harvard case study.

My experience with leaders who have the passion archetypes to deliver the leadership agility that Jeff’s company requires in the next decade suggests that he needs someone who is a Builder, courageous enough to pursue huge goals even when the odds are tough, someone for whom no effort is too great. His company will need a Transformer, an individual who thrives in change and identifies the new order that will emerge from it, well before others do.

Jeff also needs a Conceiver, an innovative, game-changing thinker, who will push the organization and him into new intellectual territory and challenge the status quo. And, because growing his business will require that the company move into uncharted territory and new countries, Jeff needs a Connector who is gifted at building relationships and negotiating across divides.

As we poured over the accomplishments of specific staff members and reviewed their passion archetypes, it became clear to Jeff that he was looking for more than just one person; he needed a team of talent who would collectively comprise the “leadership archetype” he was seeking.

Thriving in 2020 and beyond will require that Jeff think of his staff as a collection of talent, who bring not only skill-based expertise and experience to the business, but also a unique combination of passions that provide the organization with the diversity of perspective so needed for future success.

There is not a leader that I know worth the respect of his or her colleagues who isn’t like Jeff — worried about developing the talent today that their organizations will need tomorrow. Doing so requires that these leaders look beyond skill-building as the primary methodology for growing capability in the business. While it is a part of the solution required for next-decade leadership, the competitive advantage of leveraging workplace passions cannot be overstated or ignored.


Alaina Love is chief operating officer and president of Purpose Linked Consulting and co-author of “The Purpose Linked Organization: How Passionate Leaders Inspire Winning Teams and Great Results” (McGraw-Hill). She is a recovering HR executive, a global speaker and leadership expert, and passionate about everything having to do with, well … passion. Her passion archetypes are Builder, Transformer and Healer. You can learn more about how to grow leaders, build passionate teams and leverage passion to create great customer outcomes here.

When she’s not working with her Fortune 500 client base, Love is busy writing her next book, “Passionality, The Art and Science of Finding Your Passion and Living Your Bliss,” which explores the alignment of personality, purpose and passion, and the science of how it contributes to our well being. Follow Love on TwitterFacebookYouTube or her blog.

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