Thought Leader Archetypes

Archetypes have always fascinated me – they give us a shortcut way of expressing complex information. As you read through this section, remember that the Thought Leadership Archetypes are not meant to describe the whole person or even one specific person, although we may associate a person in our mind with one Archetype over another. Just as we describe some men as ‘rugged,’ and some women as ‘fragile,’ we are not being literal – these are labels that sum up certain traits and save us from a much longer description.

Here is an overview of the seven Thought Leader Archetypes I’ve identified. Select any one to learn more about that category.

  1. Builders: Motivated to build, create, and show a new path forward.
  2. Collaborators: Motivated to create connections between people with the goal of finding and shaping the best solutions for all.
  3. Competitors: Motivated to be at the top of their niche, to ‘win’.
  4. Constructive ProvocateursMotivated to move forward their agenda, or that of their community.
  5. Defenders: Motivated to protect something they believe is important from being changed/undermined.
  6. Destructive ProvocateursMotivated to shake things up; challenge the status quo.
  7. Intellects: Motivated to share their knowledge, research and lessons learned.

As you read through the Archetypes, note that the categories are not exclusive – meaning you may find yourself identifying with more than one of the seven, in varying degrees. You could be equal parts of two or even three. When I was running the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, and getting Springboard (the first venture conference for women) off the ground, I would have characterized myself as primarily a Builder; now I’m more aligned with the Collaborators (although I have always had a lot of the Destructive Provocateur characteristics). Where do you see yourself?

One caveat. Some people resist categorization – they don’t want to be put in any sort of box. Understood. If the Archetypes are helpful to you, wonderful; if they aren’t, so be it. I defined these archetypes to help define what motivates many thought leaders to become thought leaders, but they are not meant to limit you. If they spark you to think in new ways or open your mind to new reasons that you might want to be a thought leader, then great. But if you don’t see yourself here, don’t let it stop you from moving forward on your own journey to becoming a thought leader. If you’d like to learn more about the Archetypes, contact us by email.

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