Richard was a very successful businessperson and founder of a company as well as a savvy investor. He was admired for his ability to solve problems and make quick decisions — the traits of a leadership archetype that leadership coach Lolly Daskal calls “the navigator.” When Richard, now in retirement, declared that he would be interested in joining a board, the offers rolled in. However, as Daskal recounts in the introduction to her book The Leadership Gap, Richard failed spectacularly as a board member. He was “impetuous, arrogant and egotistical,” she writes — the traits of the negative leadership archetype she calls “the fixer.” Richard was eventually asked to leave the board. As Daskal explains, the very traits that had worked for him as a CEO worked against him as a board member.
Archetypes and Shadows
It is very difficult for successful leaders to recognize that the personality traits and the actions that helped them succeed in the past can actually undermine their success in the present and future. As a result, Daskal writes, these leaders hit a leadership gap: what worked in the past no longer works, and for the first time they fail.
In The Leadership Gap, Daskal explores how every leadership archetype has a shadow archetype in which the traits, mindset and actions of the past can become barriers to success. Specifically, Daskal describes how
The Rebel, characterized by self-confidence, becomes the Imposter, who is plagued by self-doubt.
The Explorer, whose intuition is the root of success, becomes the Exploiter, who uses manipulation to succeed.
The Truth Teller, who embraces candor at all times, becomes the Deceiver, who only creates suspicion.
The Hero, who embodies courage, becomes the Bystander, who embodies cowardice.
The Inventor, who is driven by integrity, becomes the Destroyer, who is morally corrupt.
TheNavigator, who trusts and is trusted, becomes the Fixer, who is endlessly arrogant.
The Knight, for whom loyalty is everything, becomes the Mercenary, who only thinks of him- or herself.
The Fine Line
How do the same traits and mindsets that made people positive role models in the past turn them into negative shadows of themselves?
The transformation of the Explorer into an Exploiter offers one example. As Daskal explains, the Explorer archetype describes a leader who is a pathfinder, who is willing to challenge assumptions and find new ways of doing things — to “create new paradigms.” What drives Explorers is their intuition: they gather information, they dip into their knowledge, but most of all, they trust their intuition. Intuition is more than a hunch, it is a feeling — a feeling about which they are certain.
Unfortunately, this certainty and this trust in their intuition can cause Explorers to start manipulating others in pursuit of their goals. They know and feel what needs to be done, and refuse to be knocked off the path. Instead, writes Daskal, they set themselves up as experts, who know it all; withhold information, since information is power; use threats and respond with anger when they are crossed.
In sum, Daskal demonstrates that there is a surprising but recurring fine line between intuition and manipulation.
From Courage to Cowardice
In other chapters, she demonstrates this same fine line between the strength of the positive archetype and the core trait of the negative archetype.
Leaders are bound to identify with at least one of the archetypes in Daskal’s book. As a result, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness offers a powerful framework to help successful people reconsider the strengths that helped them in the past and determine whether those strengths are now undermining their success.