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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Chase

Deities of the C Suite

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

Charles Handy's "Gods of Management: The Changing Work of Organisations," published in January 2009, delves into this idea. Handy employs the likenesses of Apollo, Athena, Dionysus, and Zeus to delineate four organizational cultures. Zeus epitomizes leadership through trust; Apollo thrives in bureaucracy; Athena shines as the beacon of problem-solving, while Dionysus champions individualism.

In "The Age of Paradox," the messenger god, Hermes, represents the changing nature of work in the modern world. Hermes aligns with the qualities that are highly valued in the modern workplace, especially in the face of paradoxical challenges and rapid change.

As well as their divinity, all of the other Olympians had very human attributes and all were leaders in their own domain. This makes their characteristics seamlessly relevant to today's leadership landscape. Zeus, the sovereign of Olympus, is renowned as the dynamic, entrepreneurial figurehead, he is joined by the other Olympian gods, Apollo, Ares, Dionysus, Hades, Hephaestus, Hermes and Poseidon, and the goddesses of Athena, Aphrodite, Artemis, Demeter, Hera, Hestia plus, Phosphene. A modern contemporary illustration of the Olympian gods Lexi Kay Photos

Each deity embodied leadership's core—vision, adaptability, and strategy—yet with distinct nuances. Their domains showcased their hard skills, but equally important were their soft skills, which often defy straightforward measurement. The tales of Mount Olympus offer an unconventional, yet age-old perspective on these elusive leadership traits. These powerful inner patterns or archetypes are responsible for major differences between women and men leaders. Recognizing one's leadership archetype isn't bound to a psychometric test but rather those enlightening "aha" moments (Nevertheless, some have applied Myers-Briggs® on Greek Deities: Here’s the Greek God or Goddess You’d Be, Based On Your Personality Type). These archetypes, whether more godlike for men or more goddess-like for women, ebb and flow throughout our lives, making individuals multifaceted in their leadership journey. There is always a dominant archetype normally being joined by another one or two. The more archetypes the more complex the person.

Consider Hephaestus, the deity of the forge. Hephaestus, renowned for his impeccable craftsmanship and unparalleled technical acumen, stands as an archetype for those who blend expertise with an intimate understanding of their audience's needs. Today's leaders, akin to Hephaestus, must not only be masters of their craft but also cultivate robust relationships, foster teamwork, and navigate the ever-evolving terrains of their industries. Similarly, Athena's strategic brilliance showcases the essence of structured leadership, underscoring today's emphasis on efficiency and foresight. Whereas, Hera (the wife of Zeus) with her resilience in the face of adversity showcases the importance of perseverance in leadership. Leaders often face challenges, but they persevere which sets them apart. Prometheus, although not an Olympian by technicality (he was the cousin of Zeus), epitomizes daring innovation. His boldness in granting humanity fire against the will of the Olympians aligns with leaders who dare to redefine boundaries.

In life sciences, as CEO self-awareness escalates, the Olympians offer a unique lens for introspection, enabling leaders to unearth their intrinsic leadership attributes. The Olympian gods, with their distinct attributes, offer invaluable lessons: Zeus emphasizes vision, Athena champions wisdom, Apollo underscores innovation, and Hermes signifies effective communication. Viewing leadership through the lens of these deities can allow today's leaders to cultivate self-awareness, aligning their intrinsic attributes with the lofty standards of both ancient and modern leadership ideals. Our insights draw inspiration from and are based on Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen's seminal works, "Gods in Every Man" and "Goddesses in Every Woman." Other works classify the Olympian gods differently. A good read for the upcoming holidays!

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