The Baby, The Ballerina and The Onion

Dysfunctional Archetypes in Leadership


The journey to influential leadership takes turns through corridors of adversity we may sometimes prefer to avoid. Not only are the challenges we face difficult, but sometimes they are shocking and frightful. You may argue that this is a matter of perspective and personal opinion… I propose that beyond mindset, it is more beneficial to look at the leadership journey from a mystical side, the art and intuition of visionary change, by understanding the archetypes we use in myriad contexts requiring effective leadership.


My interest in leadership began as a child - I remember as a Clover Bud in 4-H wanting to be just like the juniors and seniors in high school who were our club officers. So, as leadership opportunities were presented to me growing up, I willingly accepted, always looking for the chance to make a difference. An important lesson I learned early on and still carry with me today is that leaders do not always have fancy titles and positions that reflect their commitment to change. This little epiphany inspired me to begin looking at ways to influence good in the world from new angles and build networks with other authentic trailblazers.


I developed skills in educational leadership, healthcare innovation, non-profit management, and government leadership. While acknowledging that many training models are committed to empowering influential leaders, I kept sensing that something integral was missing. There was an essential component missing that didn’t naturally allow a flexible and humanistic approach to leadership. Specifically, what I began to notice was a lack of wellbeing and poor sense of identity both from aspiring and experienced leaders.

What I have come to realize is that many times in leadership, people confuse role with identity. And due to the dry textbook training in academia and certificate programs, leaders are equipped with strategy and tactics specific to their industry, but lack the skills to balance productivity and wellness. In studying Biocognitive Science, founded by Dr. Mario Martinez, I learned that by using the wrong archetype in the wrong context, leaders can create much confusion and illness across an organization. (To dig into this more deeply, I suggest exploring Dr. Martinez’s Empowerment Code model of biocognitive organizational science.) For now, I’m going to dig into why and how leadership archetypes must match context.


Three dysfunctional leadership archetypes many women embody that may resonate with you:


1. The Baby: Distracting, taking attention away from problem-solving and innovation, redirecting it to random and spontaneous cute, silly, and precious moments.


2. The Ballerina: Elegantly dancing around the topic at hand offering unimportant detail or dazzling and distracting away from forward movement into a spin.


3. The Onion: Peeling away layer after layer in a conversation in an attempt to reveal the essence or truth of a story or messaging.


Profound personal growth and vocational development result from transformation to healthy, appropriate leadership archetypes like these…

1. The Empowered Woman: Accessing strength, wisdom, and resources to overcome adversity without the need to mimic male strategies in leadership.


2. The Assertive Voice: Elegantly expressing truth - the right message in the right moment - to set boundaries and reaffirm honor, loyalty and commitment to self and the organization.

3. The Articulate Visionary: Compassionately relaying new ideas and plans to colleagues, employees and community members using symbolic messaging with soulful resonance.


There is much to change in our world to make it a better place for generations to come and we must first change ourselves. I invite you to explore a new model of leadership by developing your wellbeing and longevity.

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