Leader Archetype

Learn all about the leader archetype, including definition, characteristics, examples and how it relates to the Ruler archetype.

What is the Leader Archetype?

The leader archetype is one of a person who develops a following of people around them by using their relationship-oriented focus and an ability to create a vision and inspire others to follow it. The leader has firm ethical values which they will stick to.

The leader is always active rather than passive, with their actions making a different to the outcome of situations – they will not simply accept the status quo or sit back with the attitude of ‘what will be, will be’.

Rather, they set out to make things happen and to take others along with them on that journey.

Leader Archetype Characteristics & Traits

  • They are charismatic, making them attractive enough for other people drawn to, and can inspire great loyalty amongst their following.
  • The leader is a proactive decision maker, taking responsibility for making the hard choices where others are not comfortable with doing so.
  • They enjoy the responsibilities of leadership, not for the power it brings them but for the opportunity to make a difference in the world and to their followers.
  • They are confident, motivated and brave when necessary but do not actively seek out trouble.
  • They are a person whom others are comfortable in seeking advice from.

Despite this, their leadership skills can lead them to overstep the mark on occasions into becoming too dominating, unwilling to give sanction to the opinions of others. If their confidence is unchecked they can become arrogant, believing themselves to be incapable of getting things wrong and somewhat better than anyone else.

Leader Archetype Examples

A modern archetypal leader is former US President Barack Obama, a man who, despite the odds, rose to become US President because of his ability to inspire a broad section of American society to follow him.

A man of strong ethical values, Obama conveyed a clear vision of what he wanted to achieve in his Presidency and for the future of his country, enjoyed the responsibilities of decision making and leadership, and was prepared to lead by example.

In film and literature an example of the archetypal leader is Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games series.

Katniss volunteers as tribute, sets a precedent of distaste for the games, saving both her own and Peeta’s life by the end of the first book though her leadership.

Throughout the rest of the series she is able to lead a rebellion against the authorities, inspiring followers through her bravery, ethics and decision making.

Further Reading

Further reading on the leader archetype includes:

  • The Responsible Entrepreneur: Four Game-Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders, and Impact Investors – by Carol Sanford
  • The Profile of Political Leaders: Archetypes of Ascendancy – by Jaap van Ginneken
  • Obama: The Historic Presidency of Barack Obama: 2,920 Days – by Mark Greenberg
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