12 Greek Gods Archetypes for Effective Staffing
Right. So you want to be an entrepreneur. How should you go about it? What sort of team is necessary for you to succeed in the cutthroat world of business?
Ancient Greece has the recipe for effective staffing. In the form of the 12 Olympians, the most powerful of the Greek Gods. An expression of what Ancient Greeks considered as requisites for a prosperous civilisation, understanding what the Greek pantheon represented will provide you with useful tips on how to structure your company. In turn, apply it well to business and pretty soon you’d be accumulating an Olympus of profits in your pockets. Figuratively speaking, of course.
Here's ancient wisdom from the Greek Gods for all ye aspiring entrepreneurs!
PS: I'm using illustrations from playing cards I bought in Athens years ago. I have no idea who's the artist or company involved.
PPS: There are different versions of the 12 Olympians. I'm using the version with Hestia for this article.
1. Zeus: The Big Boss i.e. You
Primary duties: Talent creation, recognition, and management.
Zeus, King of the Greek Gods, Lord of the Sky, is renowned for many things. Foremost of which being his constant emphasis on the (pro)creation of heroes. Heroes who could be considered as talents, leaders, or managers in the science of effective staffing.
Thus, as the "king" of your setup, your primary tasks should be talent recognition and recruitment. Do not take leadership to simply be a matter of management or vision casting; before you can manage, you need to have the people who can execute your will! Think of how Lord Zeus himself did it. How he gathered the Greek Gods and successfully overthrew the despotic Titans. How he then churned out hero after hero to ensure worship of his pantheon for centuries. Now, I'm not saying you should completely emulate Lord Zeus' (pro)creation methods; actually, please don’t. I'm suggesting you follow his philosophy of always being on the lookout for talents. Naturally, you should also always have on hand a variety of methods to rope in these talents.
2. Hera: Chief Financial Officer
Primary duties: Financial stewardship and management.
The Queen of the Greek Gods is usually portrayed as rather spiteful in myths. To be fair, even if she was, who could blame her? The kind of activities Zeus indulged in. At the same time, Hera was also the Goddess of Women and Marriage. All these make it rather difficult to associate her with business and entrepreneurship. In a lot of ways, Hera feels completely distanced from money-making.
That is, till you examine her Roman counterpart. Juno played a far heavier role in Roman worship, with the Queen of the Gods for the Romans enjoying many epithets. Among these was Juno Moneta, the protectress of money. For entrepreneurs, the Hera/Juno in the company should be the person in charge of financial supervision and stewardship. He or she sounds the alarm bell when funds are shrinking, or worse, vanishing mysteriously. The sheer importance of this task, especially for new setups, means the boss needs to work constantly hand in hand with his Hera. Sort of like husband and wife in matrimony, if I could put it that way. Conversely, a rebellious Chief Financial Officer could also easily flip a company onto its belly. That sort of power is not too unlike that enjoyed by a lot of family matriarchs.
The First Roman Coins
The temple of Juno Moneta was where the first Roman coins were minted.
3. Poseidon: Business Development Director
Primary duty: Business Development.
Other than air, water is the next crucial requisite for life. Astronomers would tell you that having bodies of water is fundamental to the ability of any planet in supporting life. Perhaps for that reason, Poseidon, elder brother of Zeus, was considered the second most powerful god in the Ancient Greek pantheon.
In business, the water of life is deals. Or jobs, projects, contracts, whatever you call it. (Air would be your cash flow, watched over by your "wife") This is something so important, it must be overseen by your "brother," as in someone you can utterly trust. To find someone like that is arguably one of the most arduous tasks of effective staffing. Actually, it often gets so difficult the boss absorbs the task into his own portfolio. Should you ever find your Poseidon, one who wouldn't churn the seas against you, congratulations. You have successfully recruited someone to watch over the most crucial part of your business. Just be sure to always keep your Poseidon contended and happy. Remember, seas are often unpredictable. Tempests occur within seconds when they come.
4. Athena: Chief Analyst
Primary duties: Data analysis and strategy forming.
After Zeus, Athena is probably the most famous of the Greek Gods. The current Greek capital is named after her. She also features heavily in games, mangas and movies. Because of this, there are many, many versions of Athena. Here, I'm referring to the more traditional manifestation of the Goddess of Wisdom. That of a stern, no-nonsense, armour wearing strategist.
Blunt-speaking, harsh counsellor in other words. The Athena in your company is the one capable of objective data analysis and interpretation. At the same time, also the one who wouldn’t hesitate to twist your head or arm a bit, if you refuse to heed warnings. In order to maximise objectivity, your Athena might sometimes need to be a person outside your setup, in which case, a professional consultant or a genuine friend should suffice. Lastly, remember that knowing whom to listen to and whom to ignore is itself a complex skill. It is most unwise to mistake saboteurs for sages.
5. Ares: Operations Director
Primary duties: Production supervision. Company policy enforcement. Etc.
Ares, Greek God of War, does not enjoy positive publicity in both ancient or modern times. Unlike his half-sister Athena, who personified strategy, Ares represented the violent and untamed aspects of war. An uglier way to put it is that he personified brutality and physical violence.
Not characteristics for any ethical business. But do consider the more positive, obscure aspects of the Ares persona. These would include the determination to get things done. That raw, unyielding drive to see objectives accomplished, even if it means camping in icy sleet for weeks and months. Consider too the Roman version of Ares, who symbolised order, discipline and structure. Like Hera, the Roman version of Ares played a far heavier role in the Roman pantheon, and in many ways, Mars epitomised the reasons for Rome's success. Apply these values to your company and you will succeed in the same way. Like that great empire of old, your centurions and legions would be unstoppable across the continents
6. Apollo: Communications Director
Primary duties: Marketing, service write-ups, crisis management.
Let's see. What’s there to say about Apollo? Other than being the Sun God, Apollo is also the god of music, poetry, medicine, prophecies, etc.
So many portfolios!
But it becomes clear after a while, does it not? The Apollo of your company is the person in charge of written or spoken communications, especially for marketing. His way with words and his skill in presenting information beautifully establish the links between you and the all-important customer. Given Apollo is also a god of healing, the human version in your company should be tasked with crisis management too. He heals, or at least encourage healing in the face of conflict. Whatever he says in those times then facilitates recovery and mending. Important note. Tempting as it might be, do not use Apollo's glib words to badmouth your competitors. Such efforts typically come to no good end. In fact, they tend to backfire. Keep communication sunny and clean. As the sun is.
7. Artemis: Purchasing Director
Primary duty: Purchasing Director.
Primary duty: Management of suppliers.
Like her twin brother, Artemis held many portfolios. She was the Goddess of the Moon, the Hunt, and also of virginity and childbirth. Historians generally consider Artemis to be one of the most venerated Greek Goddesses.
Here, I’d focus on the childbirth aspect of Artemis and apply that in a metaphorical way to the art of effective staffing. As Purchasing Director, the Artemis of your company keeps a watchful eye over your suppliers, on top of always being on the lookout for new ones. She’s the one who watches over the children of business relationships and ensures only healthy ones are born. Now, by calling them children, I do not take a derisive view of suppliers. I am of the view that no business can survive without the ardent support of suppliers. However, it is also an established fact that unreliable suppliers promptly bring about the doom of even the strongest company, thus necessitating proper management of them right from the start. At the same time, the chaste nature of Artemis also keeps such supervision clean and healthy i.e. no under-table dealings. In a world of increasing scrutiny and regulations, this is crucial for long-term business survival. You don’t need me to give examples to show why you do not ever want to be involved with financial scandals.
8. Hephaestus: QA Chief
Primary duties: Production quality assurance, R&D.
It's easy to see why any entrepreneur would dream of having a Hephaestus in his setup. The Greek God of the Forge was the personification of invention. He was also the creator of numerous miraculous weapons and gadgets. Many of these saved the lives of heroes and mortals in memorable tales.
In real life, it's hard to find a real Hephaestus. But you wouldn't actually need one; you just need someone who believes in the values of Hephaestus, these being quality and innovation. Your Hephaestus is that hands-on, production level person who understands what quality is, and what must be done to maintain quality. He/she is sometimes also the irritable, quirky one, who would constantly cook up new ways to improve processes or churn out new product concepts every other month. Naturally, to keep Hephaestus going, there needs to be a continuous provision of funds, a requisite which could get painful during business downtowns. Don't be tempted to throw your Hephaestus from your company when facing such a situation, though. Remember, a company that doesn't innovate is a stagnant company. Stagnancy then inevitably leads to rotting death. Be glad you have weird new ideas to listen to, even when you aren’t asking for them. You'd be begging for these ideas when the industry has forgotten your setup.
9. Aphrodite: Publicity Head
Primary duty: General publicity. Branding of company name (not company product).
Primary duties: General publicity. Branding of company name (not company product).
I have to be very careful what I write about Aphrodite when it comes to effective staffing! Her being the Goddess of Love and Sexuality!
I'd approach this by encouraging you to ... embrace the power of LOVE. Love, not as in the amorous version, but general love for your company. Your Aphrodite is the poster girl for disseminating positive vibes about your setup. The one who encourages smiles when your company name is spoken. In case you feel this sort of publicity beneficial only for retail companies, remember that real publicity goes far beyond that definition, and is a crucial criterion during large tenders and bank financing. With consistent effort, achieved through the use of careful words and campaigns, the Aphrodite of your company grows the reputation of your setup. Over time, her efforts become a magnet in your setup; one that pulls customers towards you. Eventually, you might even find your Aphrodite to be indispensable. This is not too unlike how most male Greek Gods find the absence of the real Aphrodite absolutely unbearable.
10. Hermes: Information Systems Director
Primary duties: Management of information, data and communication systems.
When reading Greek myths as a kid, I loved Hermes. The Messenger of the Greek Gods was always so cool and mischievous, with such cool winged boots! Love him as I did, though, I didn't quite understand why he made it as one of the 12 Olympians. At the risk of his wrath, I'd confess I thought it was just because he was Zeus' little boy. Or simply because the Ancients Greeks preferred an even number for their pantheon.
As an adult, I finally understood his importance, especially with regards to entrepreneurship and effective staffing. Hermes was not just a messenger or an errand boy, he personified efficient channels of communications. If you do not see the importance of this, just do a google and see for yourself how many companies lost millions because of delays in information or inaccuracies in communication. Your Hermes should thus be the one responsible for keeping your communication channels updated and running. Like the case of Athena, he also doesn't need to be an actual staff; sometimes an external vendor would do. Whichever way, remember that your Hermes must be providing a functional service. It is meaningless if you have to pay through the roof, or if the system itself is too burdensome to use. The latter is no winged boot. It's deadweight.
11. Demeter: Environmental Representative
Primary duty: Er ... environmental affairs liaison?
I'd be honest. I'm wasn’t sure what to write about Demeter. The Goddess of the Harvest didn’t feature prominently in the myths. The whole agricultural association also makes Demeter somewhat ill-associated with modern concepts of commerce.
But I can't leave Demeter out. And so I'd associate her with environmental issues. Now, some businessmen would be disdainful about this, but please consider the monetary benefits of environmentalism. Costly as it might be to set up, a deliberate effort towards environmental conservation brings longs term savings. For example, while LED lights cost more, they slash your monthly electricity bill. This is a saving that never stops accumulating.
Moreover, environmental consciousness is increasingly insisted upon by governmental bodies. You might be getting away with it now, but how long would it stay that way? Personally, I think the world would eventually be forced to insist on all industries adopting environmental friendly practices, with this in turn having significant repercussions for effective staffing. If you're in an industry that produces a lot of rubbish, do consider getting some Demeter-ish advice. Hey, in time you might be recognised as a trend setter.
12. Hestia: Administration Director
Primary duties: House management. Housekeeping.
Hestia, Goddess of the Hearth, is the most mysterious of the Greek Gods. And I don't mean "mystery" in the worship sense. There's simply not a lot of stories about her. Sometimes, she's even not one of the 12 Olympians, despite being an elder sister of Zeus.
This fact, and her role as keeper of the sacred fire, gives me the impression of the quiet housekeeper. The one who diligently keeps everything up and running. Sounds to be a very menial role, yes? But how would you be if you return home and there's no water, no bed, no electricity, and no INTERNET?
That's how important Hestia's role actually is. She keeps the house in order so that you can forget about these menial things and focus on doing business. Hestia also ensures paperwork are always in order, and things are where they need to be. In other words, Hestia is the quiet, almost invisible force that keeps everyone and everything together from the backend. In my opinion, you'd be really foolish to ignore the importance of this role. And if you don’t have a Hestia is your setup, you are also just courting catastrophe, which is going to happen very soon.