Self-help guru Tony Robbins
has identified six primal needs that motivate all of our behaviours. Naturally, these drivers also manifest themselves in our work as leaders.
Psychologist Carl Jung identified a range of archetypes, of personae that we encounter every day of
our livers without realising it. These archetypes tell a story, and at the end of the day all business is about telling stories: press releases are stories about what our company is doing, marketing materials are stories about our products and services, annual reports are stories about what we have been doing
and what we will do, brands are stories, about what we have
achieved, how we can add value to those who deal with us, and so it goes on. The interesting thing
is that the most memorable stories are those that invoke in the listener or
reader one of the archetypes most clearly and strongly, and that makes archetypes extremely valuable in
So how do these primal needs manifest in our day-to-day life? In the course of a day or a week we may
exhibit the traits of a single archetype, or we may jump from archetype to
archetype. However, we will be more convincing in some roles than in others.
Below I have taken twelve of the most common archetypes that we find in business, and
matched them to the primal need that is manifested most strongly in that
Certainty/Comfort: Helps us to feel safe. Manifests as Innocent or Sage
Variety: Helps us to feel excitement. Manifests as Warrior or Jester
Significance: Helps us to feel we have achieved. Manifests as Ruler
Connection/Love: Helps us to feel part of the community, that we belong. Manifests as Regular guy/gal or Lover
Growth: Helps us to learn and progress. Manifests as Creator
Contribution: Helps us to feel worthwhile, that we have made a
difference. Manifests as Caregiver or Magician
George Bush is at his most convincing when he
plays the ‘average guy’ role, less so when he tries to be a ‘sage’. Here in the
UK, Tony Blair originally presented himself as a
caregiver. His early attempts to roll up his sleeves and be ‘one of the guys’
seem contrived and false.
business, Bill Gates
has always been a creator,
and few people give him the credit for being a ‘caregiver’ that his charitable
work deserves. Steve Jobs on the other hand, was the archetypal ‘outlaw’. Richard
Branson is the ultimate chameleon, and perhaps more than any modern business
figure, has learned how to meet most of his needs in balance: ‘jester’ (as his
publicity stunts have shown), ‘outlaw’ and ‘warrior’ (as demonstrated by his
battle with BA) but also ‘regular guy’ (in woollen jumpers) and ‘explorer’ (flying
around the world in a balloon). If he has any gaps it is, perhaps, in the area
of certainty and comfort!
So, thinking about your own brand, which archetypes do you use most frequently?
Which ones are you most authentically able
to demonstrate? And which are your weakest?