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Working with Teams

Working with Teams through the PMAI® Archetypes

Kesstan Blandin, PhD is the Vice President of Research and Development at the Center for the Applications of Psychological Type in Gainesville, FL. Previous to this, Dr. Blandin was a research psychologist specializing in dementia at the Dartmouth Centers for Health & Aging at Dartmouth College.
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All organizations, teams, or any group with a common mission, will confront archetypal moments, those difficult decisions on how best to go forward when what you decide will have impact on the organization and customers. The details may change but the archetypal core is the same: a serious challenge comes upon a team or organization and everyone must wade through the discord of clashing opinions, fears, and convictions. For David Hulings, it was how to open school safely amid the Covid-19 pandemic.


David Hulings, an author, speaker, and executive leadership coach who works with the PMAI® system, has published a clear and insightful article in Training Magazine that details his work with a team in crisis at the Kalamazoo Regional Education Services (KRESA) in Michigan. His ability to listen with an archetypal ear and hear the archetypal characters embodied in the language, attitude, and behaviors of his clients is impressive. Explaining to his clients how to recognize their challenges in understanding one another, in the intense situation they faced, the archetypal moments provided deep insight into not only the individuals involved, but also the context they struggled with.


The archetypal language of the PMAI system brings clarity to the various positions people take in pressure filled situations: troubleshooting Realists will want to focus on holding the worst at bay; Warriors will want to take on the challenge with courageous action; Caregivers will be concerned with those who may be hurt or left out; the Creators and Revolutionaries will be looking for a fresh approach to accomplish the mission, albeit in their respective ways; and we can count on the Sages to bring all the necessary data to bear on the problem.

A good way to work with teams in crisis or under stress and pressure is to get a read on the major tones and attitudes of the group: what do you hear? Usually there is more than one prominent archetypal voice in the group, and often, voices are clashing. The archetypes each have different responses to trouble, problems, and danger and each one is valid. The first step is to figure out which ones are pushing the agenda, point this out, and make sure all archetypal perspectives are heard. A valuable perspective might be represented in an indistinct or muted archetype on the team.


The 12 PMAI archetypes present a common language to understand others positions and the situations we are challenged with, whether it is reopening a school or generating new products and revenue in a pandemic. Again, the details will change but the need to unite people through non-judgmental understanding will always be called for and an ideal outcome of our work is to foster shared language and archetypal capacity in our clients.

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