One of the most interesting leadership frameworks I’ve learned came from an unexpected place - Burning Man.
Imagine a 2x2 matrix. On one axis you have masculine and feminine, on the other axis you have active and passive. That gives us four possible types of leadership, all very different and all very powerful in their own way.
- Think of this as military hierarchy. Goals, tasks, duties, orders, direction. It’s easy to imagine leaders like this from kings to military generals to great CEOs, because this has been the dominant form of leadership in our society. An active masculine leader tells his or her team what to do with clarity and direction. They trust his or her guidance and they believe that if they do as directed, they will be safe and successful.
- Intuition, interpersonal skills, feeling the energy of the room, the emotions of the people that you’re engaging with, and using that wisdom to guide your decision of what to do or say next. An active feminine leader would halt a meeting if she senses some tension, something unsaid, between people in the room, and bring it out in the open in order to make good clean decisions that aren’t distorted by subconscious thoughts and feelings.
- Holding space or creating structure so that others can shine. This is leadership from behind the scenes, creating the environment and then stepping back to allow your team to bring their fullest gifts. They feel safe to take risks, don’t have to worry about making mistakes and can relax and play full-out. Imagine a great coach working behind the scenes so that the athletes can shine on the field.
- This is seduction and charisma. Being so magnetic that people want to follow you, they want to do what you say, they want to please you. Think of Cleopatra with her subjects falling over themselves to please her, or a very charismatic leader like Martin Luther King who could speak vulnerably and passionately inspiring a crowd, inspiring a movement.
You’ll likely feel very natural operating in one or two of these archetypes, and others may sound very uncomfortable.
The key, if you want to be a top 1% leader, is to master all four leadership types. To seamlessly transition to whichever archetype the moment calls for, which will be different in every situation.