For a while I've been interested in the archetypes exhibited by two of the most influential leaders in the personal computer industry; Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. One who has become one of the richest men in the world, the other who (though he was significantly less rich in his lifetime) is regarded as a huge inspiration to millions of people.
Many people have studied their respective business methods, market strategies and leadership styles but I wanted to review their very different approaches from an archetypal viewpoint.
Knowing what you already know about these men I’m wondering if you have an idea of which archetypes are dominant in each of them, what would you say are the strongest traits: Sovereign, Warrior, Sage, Lover, Mystic or Jester?
Any leader of a multinational, multi-billion dollar industry must have some strong ‘Sovereign’ characteristics, of course, but this will not have always been strongly present.
After delving into Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs – which actually contains a lot of material on Gates and shows just how closely these two interacted over the years – I was stunned at just how archetypical the behaviours of these two characters actually are.
To me, Gates has always appeared to be the more ‘left-brain’ of the two; which places him amongst the trio of Sovereign, Sage and Warrior. Jobs appeared to be just the opposite; whilst there’s got to be some Sovereign characteristics in the mix, he generally showed much more ‘right-brain’ – creative and lateral – thinking. Again, as you get more familiar with the Team Me pack of six, you’ll see that the Lover, Mystic and Jester are the three that occupy this space.
I’ve never met either of these men, so I can only go by what I’ve seen and read., yet it’s clear to me that the Sage is the dominant archetype in Gates; and the Mystic the dominant in Jobs.
This I’ve concluded not just from the gifting that each one demonstrates, but also from the evidence of their ‘shadow sides’.
Jobs is clearly the more creative of the two. His love for form as well as function is very evident to those who appreciate that sort of thing. Jobs regarded Gates as 'unnervingly narrow' and would often lash out at Microsoft as having ‘no taste, no original ideas, no culture.’
Gates once referred to Jobs as ‘erratic’, he compared his leadership style to that of the ‘Pied Piper’ and accused him of continually overworking his staff. If that wasn’t strong enough Gates, and others, would talk about Steve’s personal ‘reality distortion field’ - claiming that he’d lapse into fantasies that could not be grounded in measurable reality. Gates also observed his frequent ‘highs’ as he talked about his latest plans and developments; then experienced his lapses into bouts of fear, during which Jobs would sometimes refer to his own staff as ‘a bunch of idiots’. He’d witness Jobs displaying a ‘whole gamut of emotions’ and employing a ‘range of manipulation techniques’.
These, as you probably know by now, are all classic traits of the Mystic archetype.
Gates, on the other hand, is far more ordered, logical, factual in his approach… but lacked imagination if you were to ask the guys at Apple. “Gates was not a good listener,” said Hertzfeld, who was working on the development of early Apple software, telling of times when Gates would not wait until the team had explained how the code worked, but would jump in with his own guess at how it was done.
Gates’ comment on his own style is also quite telling, “I’m good at when people are emotional, I’m kind of less emotional.” This, of course, is the talk of a Sage, who prides himself in his ability to remain detached.
Finally, there’s a wonderful quote from Steve Wozniak who was a significant player in the early days of mass software development. When he heard of Jobs’ return to Apple he said, “Whatever you think of Steve, he knows how to get the magic back.”
Now, take a look again at the photo of these two at Jobs’ home. A rudimentary analysis of their body language is probably all we need to confirm what makes these guys tick:
Concluding, I’m not sure that I’d have liked to have worked for either of these guys! Whilst I’m sure I could learn a huge amount from both of them, there’s just not enough of the Lover in either of them for me to feel like they have my best interests at heart.
If you've not read it, I'd recommend you get hold of a copy of Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson you'll see a lot more of the Sage (Gates) and the Mystic (Jobs) in this book than I've even begun to cover.
So what do you think? Have you seen anything else about these men that supports or contradicts my assertions above?
Pad is a trusted adviser to business leaders across the globe. He is Director at Come Alive Success Coaching ltd. and the Author of TEAM ME - How to Play Your Best Game in Life, and TEAM GUY - Forging Men of Soul & Steel.