Merchant Blog

Blog Article: Five Archetypes for Team Composition

The Avengers. The A-Team. The Italian Job. The X-Men. Heck, even the Breakfast Club. In popular culture, teams of characters band together to achieve incredible goals and play off of each others’ strengths. Sometimes they come into conflict, but in the end their diverse abilities and personalities make them stronger for having joined up with one another. In the world of small business management, team composition can have an exceptionally strong effect on the working environment and the overall success of the business.

It’s no coincidence that the partners in many a successful and powerful team effort boil down to five core archetypes. Smaller teams, partnerships or sole proprietors might even wear a few of these personalities at once. Who are these critical five, and how can they make your small business better?

The Leader

Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, an archetypal Leader.

Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, an archetypal Leader.

The Leader is the cornerstone of any team composition plan. He or she uses charisma, encourages, motivates, rewards and provides feedback on job performance.  A leader corrects with kindness and celebrates achievement. The leader projects level-headed confidence and has clear goals in mind both for the wider direction of the business and for the other members of his or her team. A good leader lets people learn and grow.  Most importantly, the leader’s role in the team composition is to foster a positively-minded culture of mutual respect and equal awareness of the whole team’s efforts.

The Innovator

Steve Jobs of Apple: a world-renowned Innovator in his time.

Steve Jobs of Apple: a world-renowned Innovator in his time.

As a foil of sorts to the Leader, the Innovator rolls up his or her sleeves with candour and eagerness, and is unafraid to push into the unknown in order to grow and advance the business. They are the strategic centre of the team composition. A great innovator sees potential in the future and has a keen eye for developing new plans or pursuing unmapped market frontiers – “disruption,” to use the current jobspace trend-word. Innovators advance the goals of the team and can work with dilligent self-motivation and independent vision.

The Numbers Guru

Professor Frink, numerical genius.

Professor Frink, numerical genius.

A small business is often built to balance on the edge of many quickly-shifting financial parameters. Cash flow, asset allocation, purchasing and supply agreements, accounting and investment must be overseen by a dedicated individual whose responsibility it should be to keep the business in the black. All leaders and need to know where the company is financially and what must be done to sustain viability: innovators must be aware of the budget that can be used to pursue their goals, and so forth. In this sense, a numerically savvy Guru is an essential part of any small business’ team composition.

The Empath

Famke Janssen portrays the empathic Jean Grey, member of the X-Men.

Famke Janssen portrays the empathic Jean Grey, member of the X-Men.

The Empath is the “people person” – someone who understands the emotional ups and downs that can affect other team members in the day-to-day small business environment, stabilizing them. In the modern, web-connected and social space that many small businesses now inhabit, an empathetic voice in your team composition profile will be able to connect with customers and their issues as well, helping to provide solutions and quell concerns with a well-placed post or piece of advice. The Empath can project the human element into the business plan, find the right employees to supplement it, gauge their interaction with the culture of the business, and help other members to devise strategies that take customer/user preferences and experiences into account.

The Expert

Sir Ian McKellen as the wise and experienced Gandalf the Grey.

Sir Ian McKellen portrayed the wise and experienced Gandalf the Grey.

Where an Innovator might keep an eye on the future, an Empath could connect to customer needs, or a Leader might see the big picture unfolding, an Expert is the piece in your team composition that can be counted on to bring extensive experience in the field to bear internally and externally. These expert employees can mentor others who are learning the business.  They provide guidance and wisdom on what works and what does not work in the organization: this results in fewer mistakes and better productivity. The Expert need not be a technical/systems wizard! Their skills should align best with the objectives of the business rather than being focused in any particular field.


Once you have assembled an amazing team, your small business can use its combined and interlocked sets of competencies to overcome challenges and achieve a wide range of goals!

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