Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.


The Manager and the Therapist

I have just completed Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (recommended, by the way). In one of the chapters, the authors explore archetypes of American leadership - those archetypes that influence both personal life and work life.

I am taking liberties by diverging from the true purpose of the author's exploration, but two of the archetypes stuck in my mind as leadership styles I have personally witnessed. They are the Manager and the Therapist.


The Manager style is most obvious. These leaders are great at zeroing in on staff skills and using those skills to fulfill company goals. They have the ability to "size people up" almost immediately. They see people in an honest light and leave emotional responses out of decision making. They care about productivity.

In most situations they use logic to determine outcome. They are yang. They are the masculine aspect of leadership.

Manager descriptives: Perceptive, stable, determined, professional, assertive
Weaknesses include: A one dimensional focus on employees as labor; can be rigid


The Therapist rallies and encourages the pursuit of employee strengths. They nurture skill development and explore potentials. They are great listeners and can mostly be found 'on the floor' with the rest of the team. They appear both wise but approachable. They focus on creating corporate culture through an individualistic approach. They care about ideas.

In most cases they explore emotion to influence problem solving. They are yin. They are the female aspect of leadership.

Therapist descriptives: Motivational, reflective, communicative, team-oriented
Weaknesses: Unable to establish boundaries between personal and professional life; lack stability; too ambiguous in leadership style

What's your management style? How has it worked for you/against you?