A colleague of mine shared with me a really interesting article about archetypes, basically, the general category of “person” we might fit into. This piece by Charlie Gilkey was written as a reflection on Malcom Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, which also happens to be a text that had a prominent impact on my thinking as a leader and learner.
Gilkey’s article talks about Gladwell’s three main archetypes, that of the maven, connector, and salesman. Mavens, as Gladwell sees it, are those with big ideas and information makers. They know a lot and build capacity through their knowledge and skills. Connectors are those who succeed through the organization of people, the building of relationships, and the cultivating of cultures. Salesmen (or saleswomen) work their magic by getting people to buy into ideas and services. They have an uncanny knack to connect people to ideas by the nature of the way they share information, whether it be through visual, auditory, or active means.
Certainly, knowing our main archetype is incredibly important.
But Gilkey’s article goes further. He states that our main archetype is key, but beyond that, we also need to know about our secondary archetype, because the idea is that while your primary archetype tells you why you do something, your secondary provides greater detail on the process.
In other words, the “how”.
So, for instance, you might be a maven, filled with great ideas. If your secondary archetype is as a connector, you’re going to use the relationships you have with others to get that information out there. If you are a maven/salesman, you are going to focus more on your ability to sell ideas and provide access to them by pushing the ideas out using your advertising skills.
There is some subjectivity here, and the point is that knowing the why and how is key. What’s interesting to me is that I believe I vacillate between connector-maven and connector-salesman. I seem to lead and learn best with people at the forefront, and depending on the situation, I may rely on the people, or the process, in order to push ideas forward.
Regardless, the key is that understanding why we do things, and how we do them, is a necessity for all of us to be the best leaders and learners we can be!