Archetype: Destructive Provocateurs

Driver: Motivated to shake things up; challenge the status quo.

Behaviors and Characteristics:
Provocateurs come in two flavors – those who focus on constructive change (Constructive Provocateurs) and those who are ready to ‘blow it all up and start over’, Destructive Provocateurs. The latter are:

  • Not afraid to rile people up, be irreverent or challenge authority.
  • Enjoy the spotlight and use the microphone as a ‘bully pulpit’.
  • May act precipitously and take the unexpected path which can lead to enormous change but also enormous pain.
  • Willing to put themselves at risk, personally and professionally
  • May support more than one cause or have less loyalty to a cause than to a point of view of how the world ‘should’ be.
  • Can quickly break down barriers and open a path for others to follow.


  • To share their ideas in a way that others welcome rather than reject.
  • To avoid being defined by their controversial techniques rather than the cause for which they stand.
  • To not be seen as controversial for the sake of being controversial, which might undermine their effectiveness.

Greatest Fear:

  • Others will not take them seriously.

Must Avoid:

  • Creating controversy just to see others squirm.

Call to action:

  • Why not?

Example Destructive Provocateur Thought Leaders:

  • Michael Moore (DP), filmmaker, social critic, and liberal activist
  • Julian Assange (DP), editor-in-chief and founder, WikiLeaks
  • Edward Snowden (DP), former National Security Agency contractor who disclosed top-secret NSA documents
Example Constructive/Destructive Provocateur Thought Leaders:
While these individuals may not act in overtly destructive ways, they may advocate that others move to overthrow existing structures.
  • Maureen Dowd (CP/DP), a columnist for the New York Times, author of Are Men Necessary?
  • Maya Angelou (CP/DP), author, poet, civil rights advocate
  • Germaine Greer (CP/DP), feminist, author, The Female Eunuch

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