by: Kathy Caprino-FORBES
Have you ever wondered why some people are able to stand in their greatness as leaders, and evolve and grow even in the face of extreme challenges, while others falter in their gaps? There’s been volumes and volumes written about great leadership today, but much of it doesn’t look at how we can honestly and deeply evaluate our own blind spots and gaps, and close them, so we can reach our highest potential as leaders and influential forces for good in the world.
Lolly Daskal seeks to change that. A sought-after executive leadership coach, Lolly has spent over three decades working with top leaders from business, government, and nonprofit sectors around the world. She is the founder and CEO of Lead from Within, and her leadership programs bring together modern philosophy and science along with the wisdom born of her varied, in-depth experience.
In her intriguing new book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness, Lolly illustrates how successful leaders, top entrepreneurs and high achievers are able to tap into their strengths – and also deal with the shadow side and hidden impediments of their primary archetype — to achieve greater and more meaningful success.
Here’s what Lolly shares:
Kathy Caprino: Lolly, what are the seven leader archetypes and the gaps that accompany them?
Lolly Daskal: In working with leaders from hundreds of companies around the world, I began to recognize certain patterns that were always emerging. Over time they sorted themselves out into a series of archetypes and their shadows, and I started to create a system around the behaviors that related to those archetypes.
In The Leadership Gap, I identify seven leadership styles that are personified into these dual archetypes. One side of each will lead you to greatness, and the other into a gap. They are:
• The Rebel, driven by confidence, and the Imposter, plagued by self-doubt
• The Explorer, fueled by intuition, and the Exploiter, master of manipulation
• The Truth Teller, who embraces candor, and the Deceiver, who creates suspicion
• The Hero, who embodies courage, and the Bystander, who is fearful
• The Inventor, who is brimming with integrity, and the Destroyer, who is morally corrupt
• The Navigator, who trusts and is trusted, and the Fixer, endlessly arrogant
• The Knight, for whom loyalty is everything, and the Mercenary, who is perpetually self-serving
Caprino: How can leaders determine what their archetypes and gaps are?
Daskal: Most people identify themselves initially in terms of a single leadership type or style. But each of us is not one archetype but all of them, in varying degrees, and within each of us are both competing sides — a polarity of character with one side that leads to greatness.
The gaps of the archetypes play out in different ways. As an example, let’s explore the Rebel.
The Rebel is someone who wants to make an impact in the world. Rebels start revolutions, but not through revolts and uprisings. Rebels are the quiet warriors who embark on quests to achieve remarkable things. They overcome formidable obstacles to save the project, the team or the company. The explorer asks, “How can I push the envelope?” To keep pushing the envelope, the Rebel requires confidence.
But confidence isn’t just standing in front of the mirror and saying, “I am the best and the brightest.” It means knowing your capabilities and competencies, knowing what you are good at and what you have mastered. Your skills and abilities will give you the confidence will help you succeed. Confidence is knowing you are able. The equations are simple: The more skill you have, the more talent you have. The more competent you feel, the more competent—and, ultimately the more confident—you become.
But for every confident, competent Rebel, there is a gap—a self-doubting self-identified Imposter. This gap keeps the Rebel from greatness with a constant loop of negative messages: You’re not smart enough or good enough to make a big impact. Your education’s second rate, and people are judging you because of it. Played over and over again, these messages take a toll.
To leverage the Imposter within you:
Stop comparing yourself to others. Focus on how far you have come and strive for continual self-improvement. Everyone’s success story is different, and yours will always be uniquely yours.
Make a list of your accomplishments. Keep your wins in plain sight so you are reminded of them regularly.
Remind yourself there is no such thing as perfect. People who feel like imposters hold the belief that they need to be perfect, but perfectionism sets you up for continual frustration because it’s unattainable.
What makes the knowledge and insight about these archetypes and their gaps so profound is that they are always telling us that greatness lies within us— we each choose whether we want to stand in our greatness or lead from our gaps.
Caprino: How can leaders and others use this archetype system to enhance their careers?
Daskal: When most people think of their career, they concentrate on how, when, why. And if you want to enhance your career, you have to be able to know who you are being in your career. It’s who you are that is the measure of how successful you will be.
To enhance your career at given moment, look at the situation and ask yourself some questions:
Leading from greatness, or leading from my gaps?
Being a rebel, or am I leading like an imposter?
Being an explorer, or am I leading like an exploiter?
Being a truth teller, or am I leading like a deceiver?
Being a hero, or am I leading like a bystander?
Being an inventor, or am I leading like a destroyer?
Being a knight, or am I leading like a mercenary?
Part of the power of this system of archetypes is that you can use it to coach yourself in the moment. You can determine who you need to be in which situation—knowledge that can make a difference between moving forward or staying stuck.
Caprino: How do gaps specifically interfere with or impact a leader’s success and greatness?
Daskal: Our gaps are usually made up of the thoughts and emotions and impulses that we find too painful or embarrassing to accept, so instead of dealing with them we repress them and seal them away in the unconscious mind, hoping we never have to reveal them.
For instance, if you feel like an imposter and you suffer from self-doubt, you can’t show up as the Rebel who has confidence. This one gap can get in the way of your greatness. Becoming aware of your leadership gaps and their patterns can be the first step to leveraging your greatness.
Caprino: How are gaps created?
Daskal: Gaps are created before we learn what to filter out and what to keep, and we take it all in—including every negative, defeating, pessimistic, cynical, fatalistic, dismissive message. Soon those messages become part of our DNA, whether we know it or don’t. We have to see the messages we’ve taken in as not necessarily true.
What we don’t necessarily understand about our gaps is that the more we try to hide them, the wider they become. Think of a balloon filled with air. When you squeeze one side, the balloon will only grow in size on the other side. The same is true for people. The only answer is to let go.
We are all capable of standing in our greatness. Every human being is born with a healthy emotional system. We come into this world without fear, without shame. We don’t make judgments about which parts of ourselves are good and which parts are bad. Rather, we dream about doing something bigger than ourselves—we have ideas, thoughts, visions, hopes. Some of us have ideals that are bigger than others’, but we all have great visions for ourselves.
Somewhere along the way, those visions get diluted. Maybe it was a teacher who called you stupid, a parent who said you could do better, a bully who taunted you, a sports coach who called you inadequate. Whatever that message was, you heard it and internalized it. You made the message stick, and because you did, you didn’t think you were qualified or worthy to stand in your greatness. But greatness is a destiny available to everyone—we just have to choose it.
Caprino: Are we one archetype or are we all archetypes?
Daskal: I don’t believe anyone has one fixed set of characteristics neatly boxed up in one archetype. Each human being is a unique combination of many parts and polarities that create a whole person. I see these archetypes as leadership styles with an arc that is in a constant state of movement and change—we shift from one style to another all the time, depending on the situation. We are, in reality, an amalgam of all the archetypes.
Having said that, we do tend to lean repeatedly toward some archetypes and gaps more than others. Any given person has one or more predominant archetypes.
It was Aristotle who said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, in this case meaning we are made up of fragmentations of ourselves seeking to be whole.
Caprino: What advice do you give to people who want to grow in their leadership?
Daskal: Standing out and growing into great leadership means being constantly vigilant about who you are and making sure not to allow the gaps to interfere with what you want to achieve. You have to maintain an awareness of both sides of who you are being in the current situation—the side that serves you well, and the side that impedes you.
What prevents many individuals from achieving the greatness to which they aspire isn’t a lack of skill or opportunity. It’s relying on what has always worked for them even when it is no longer working.
It takes a special individual to own their vulnerability and be aware of their leadership gap. This insight, this awareness is the beginning of growth. Because it’s the person who’s truly interested in succeeding who will remain open to learning, changing, and growing as an individual.
To be a whole person means we are able to claim all of it as who we are.