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Executive Leadership Team: A Story of Camelot

Do you have a bright, talented executive team?

It is so important to have bright and talented people on your executive leadership team. Capable and accomplished people know how to get stuff done and take responsibility to make things happen without external motivation and direction. However, leadership is a complex concept.  There are multiple ways of being an effective leader.  And, I would argue that you need representation from all leadership types to effectively run your organization.

The four leadership archetypes are all represented in the story of Camelot.

The Sovereign:  Some leaders have the ability to create and cast the vision for the enterprise.  They seem to have the picture burned into their soul.  They dream the dream.  Their passion and clarity of vision inspires others to participate.  They have the blueprint for building the business and can recruit the talent to make things happen.  This was King Arthur’s role in the story.  You must have at least one sovereign on your team or there is no clarity as to what you are building and where you are going.
Warriors:  Some leaders are skilled at getting things done.  They are bold, fearless, committed, tireless and courageous.  They lead from the front and model for others the ability to work hard, break through barriers and create throughput.  Lancelot is the prototypical warrior.  You must have warriors on your team or nothing of significance gets done.
Lovers:  Lovers understand people. They create cultures where people want to work. They celebrate the efforts of others and make people feel special.  Companies like Nordstrom’s capitalize on lover energy.  One story lives in their culture.  A customer wanted to return tires. Even though Nordstrom’s doesn’t sell tires, the clerk was eager to take them in order to please their customer.  Gwenevere held the lover energy in the Camelot story.  She make Camelot a magical place to live.  Without lovers, people burnout.  Lovers ensure that human needs are tended to.
Magicians:  Magicians are the voice of wisdom.  They ground companies in some purpose greater than simply making money.  They are the soul of corporations.  Merlin repeatedly reminded King Arthur of his mission when he had lost his way.  There is a wonderful story about Bill Gates flying off to a remote lake for 2 weeks every year.  He takes White Papers from his employees with him and seeks to “see” what is beyond the technical horizon such that he can position Microsoft to be there ahead of his competitors.  Magicians are so important to the durability and soulfulness of companies.


So, does your leadership team have adequate representation of all leadership types?  If you have no sovereign, you may have a lot of activity, but no coordination.  People are busy, but they aren’t getting the right things done.  If you have too few warriors, you have a great plan, but aren’t executing.  If you have no lovers, a great deal is getting done, but people are burning out and your team is turning over.  You are losing too much talent.  If you have not magicians, you lack soul.  You might have a good company but it has shallow roots.  Adversity might sweep it away because it fails to see the big picture and its role in contributing to the world. Leading high performance teams is not easy.

In my work with executive teams and in leadership coaching, I often use a personality assessment to type each person on the leadership team.  Leaders with narcissistic personalities often make wonderful sovereigns. Aggressive, Compulsive and even Passive-Aggressive personalities contribute great warrior energy to the leadership team. Dependent and Histrionic personalities tend to be great lovers. They are sensitive to people’s needs and create great relationships. Depressive and Schizoid personalities are natural magicians. They keep to themselves a bit and so often have a bigger perspective on what is going on.

Executive leadership teams should welcome all of these voices to the project of leading. It is in the contribution of each voice that balance and perspective is found, and leadership effectiveness improves.


About Jack Skeen

Jack Skeen
Jack Skeen, founder of Skeen Leadership, has been coaching bright and successful leaders for close to two decades, spending thousands of hours addressing every imaginable leadership, business and life issue with wisdom and professionalism.
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