Archetype: Constructive Provocateurs

Driver: Motivated to take a stand for and move forward an agenda – their own or that of their community.

Behaviors and Characteristics:
Sharing many characteristics with Builders, Constructive Provocateurs often have far greater challenges to overcome. They are working within entrenched hierarchies (ex: military) or long-established industries. Just to make change possible, they must push forcefully against the existing norms. (If they would rather just blow up the existing structures, rather than work within, they are more often Destructive Provocateurs.)

Constructive Provocateurs are:

  • Willing to rile people up and challenge authority.
  • Will take the spotlight and the microphone as often as necessary to be heard.
  • Have a clear point of view of how the world ‘should’ be.
  • Can break down barriers and open a path for others to follow. 

Behaviors and Characteristics:

  • See their role as the spokesperson for a cause; galvanize action to create positive change.
  • Understand they may face a long, slow, steady fight against entrenched interests.
  • Ready to endure conflict, hardship, spend their own time, money, and resources in service to their cause.
  • Often excel at evangelizing nascent ideas or laying the groundwork for others to be heard.
  • Learn that by aligning and partnering with others, they can accomplish more.


  • To see the other side’s point of view and create a win-win for all involved.
  • To stand out from the noise of so many competing causes.
  • To avoid burning out or acting recklessly due to their (over) commitment to their cause.
  • To avoid the use of incendiary language and conflict for the sake of conflict.
  • To avoid having their views distorted and their credibility undermined.

Greatest Fears:

  • They will not live to see how it all turns out.
  • That they may put their life, or the life of their family, at risk.

Must avoid:

  • Seeing those on the other side as ‘stupid’ or ‘evil’, rather than uninformed.

Call to Action:

  • We must…

Example Advocate Thought Leaders:

  • Commander Zoe Dunning, U. S. Naval Academy graduate, and gay rights activist. (See Chapter 4 of Ready to Be a Thought Leader?)
  • Van Ton-Quinlivan (CP), workforce and education innovator (see Chapter 1 of Ready to Be a Thought Leader?)
  • Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times and his wife Sheryl WuDunn are advocates for the disenfranchised around the world. Together, they won the Pulitzer Prize (the first time a married couple won the prize) and they are the co-authors of Half the Sky.
  • Gloria Steinem, American feminist, journalist, and activist who became nationally recognized as a leader and spokeswoman for the women’s liberation movement
  • Aung San Suu Kyi, civil rights advocate, Chair and Parliamentarian, National League for Democracy, Burma
  • Dr. Maulana Karenga: Founder of the black nationalist movement known as US and founder of, African American holiday Kwanzaa

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