In Lesson #4 – Del Boy to Die Hard, we looked at four leadership types represented by fictional characters. In this lesson I want to explore situations in which all four types are present in one community. I will use the TV series ‘Sex and the City’ to examine this ensemble drama which more closely represents organisational cultures.
Let’s remind ourselves of the four characters from the series:
Miranda is a lawyer. In her work she is rigorous about compliance and following the rules. She pays attention to detail. She doesn’t appear too bothered about family life – she became a mother, and then a wife, almost by accident.
Samantha runs a PR company. She is very competent, self-reliant and successful. Although she is well networked, she is avoids intimacy.
Charlotte has a job in an art gallery but it’s not important to her. She is desperate to create a family. She hates conflict and is the peace keeper in the group.
Carrie is a free-lance writer. She is stylish, sensitive and very creative. She has fans.
The Four Leadership Types
Here are the four leadership types described in In Lesson #4 Del Boy to Die Hard:
values community & belonging.
Leadership Style – encouraging, inclusive, getting the best from others, networking, a good spokesperson
values order, compliance and attention to detail,
Leadership Style – fair and just, provides clear direction, a good organiser
values achievement & mastery,
Leadership Style – task force leader, energiser, expedient, risk taker, resourceful
values freedom, self-expression, creativity, individuality
Leadership Style – charismatic, visionary – if you share my vision
Identifying the leadership types
We can now match the characters with their type:
The Catalyst – if you want the job done sensitively
The Guardian – if you want the job done properly
The Driver – if you just want to get the job done
The Visionary – if you want the job done creatively
If you find this a bit of a coincidence you might like to consider that the screenwriters were almost certainly aware of personality types, like those described by Karl Jung for example, and would have created the ensemble with these archetypes in mind.
Approach to the inmost cave – meeting your nemesis
A critical stage of The Leader’s Journey is called ‘Approach to the Inmost Cave’. This is where our Hero meets her nemesis and realizes that in order to achieve her goal she needs to confront her inner demons.
During the course of the series each of the ‘Sex and the City’ characters has to confront an inner demon. Something that confronts the way they see themselves. Their individual worst dread which the writer contrives to make ‘even worse’.
Charlotte is desperate for a family and after years of trying, fails to conceive. Eventually she accepts her childlessness and adopts a Chinese baby and, in the final denouement, becomes pregnant.
Samantha is fiercely capable and independent. Then, horror on horror, she gets breast cancer and becomes vulnerable – her worst fear. At the time she has been with her boyfriend, Smith, for a long time. He is a model, fit, tanned with flowing blond hair. As her hair begins to fall out she decides to take control of the situation and prepares to shave off her own hair. Smith comes up behind her and takes the razor from her hand. He pauses and then proceeds to shave his own hair. Had he shaved her hair that would have been an act of intimacy (something she dreads) but by shaving his own hair he demonstrates true empathy (even worse for someone who doesn’t do intimacy). It was a touching moment and she finally accepts his act of true love.
Carrie is stylish – in one episode she dates a Russian artist called Alexandre. She covets a beautiful dress which she maintains is a form of art. But he (and his ex-wife, even worse) pours scorn on her Philistine view of art. Suddenly she has met someone truly stylish and can’t be with him. In the end he buys her the dress – has he acknowledge that fashion is a form of art?
Miranda is a lawyer, focused on her career and very organized. She begins to date Steve who is a barman with no ambition or career plan. She can’t bear his cavalier attitude and ends the relationship. However when he starts to date a younger woman he decides to get his act together and try to get his own bar. Miranda realises that she really misses him and cries; “Why couldn’t he have done this when we were together?” Eventually they do get back together and she learns to accept him as he is.
A true story
The HR Director of a National Charity made a misjudged decision to dismiss a difficult member of staff on, what he believed to be, valid grounds. However the staff member took his case to a tribunal and won, costing the charity many thousands of pounds.
The Director in question was beside himself with self-recrimination, despite the fact that his board all backed him up. In a coaching conversation it emerged that he was the eldest of a large family and he believed that he must always contribute and never be a drain on resources – a quality of the Catalyst leader. In every aspect of his life: family, work, friends, hobbies, he defined himself as an asset but in this situation he had clearly become a liability (to his work family). And to make matters worse – it was a charity. It might not have been so bad had it been an investment bank but a charity! Nothing could break the grip of his upset and he decided to let time be the healer.
Hollywood Lessons in Leadership™ – Lesson #5 of 6
© 2016 Anne Oberon, http://www.oberonconsultants.com