Jungian Archetypes and the Chief Medical Officer

Missing the forest for the trees, fitting a glass slipper, many fish in the sea, finding a needle in a haystack: the English language is rife with idioms and turns of phrases that describe the difficulty of singling out the best possible option from a group imbued with similar attributes. The variables involved in finding the best Chief Medical Officer (CMO) can make this feel like the search for the proverbial needle. In 2004 the popular science program MythBusters showed that, while it may never be an easy task, the right tools can substantially reduce the search time required to find the needle. Although a CMO is not, in fact, a needle, the right tools can significantly improve the ultimate result.

A holistic candidate assessment should take intelligence, empathy, cultural fit, and personal decency into account in the IECDQ model. Informed by Carl Jung’s psychological and personality archetypes theories, the IECDQ model provides a repeatable, scientific, and holistic assessment of candidates for a CMO role. This model uses psycho-social models to synchronize the hiring company’s needs and the candidate’s wants. The model is likely to prove extensible and valuable for additional leadership roles.

Limitations and Background

ZRG has long held that we owe our clients more than a resume and an opinion as a data-driven innovator in the executive search and talent advisory industry. However, many of the dimensions of an ideal candidate are, at best, statistically slippery. The vague “cultural fit” criterion can and has been abused to mask discriminatory hiring practices, even subconscious ones. Developing this holistic assessment is a step toward objectivizing a subjective “feel”.

Further, the market for talent has advanced to a point at which skills and attributes may no longer suffice as distinguishing factors among candidates. If one is faced with three candidates for a job with functionally identical work histories, academic records, and recommendations—equally qualified candidates—how might one select the best candidate? While it is tempting to describe this dilemma as having “no wrong answer”, every hiring manager knows there is always a best answer.
Importance of IQ and EQ: PXT Select

Faced with the need to quantify the qualitative—to square the circle—both talent advisors and hiring managers have turned to survey-based assessment tools. Such tools seek to align candidate responses to a survey with a set of position description-based skills and attributes. One main advantage of this model is accessing and leveraging an extensive, aggregated database. PXT Select, which comprises part of ZRG’s Zi Score analysis, contains a database more than 4 million completed assessments.

The PXT is based on data derived from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a well-established psychometric assessment that can also be used in pre-employment candidate screening. This is not to say that the PXT is simply a rebranding of the MMPI. However, it is noteworthy that the effort to quantify candidate fit in hiring is already involved in a fruitful dialogue with psychological theory.

It is further worth noting that the PXT is not presented or deployed as a pass/fail candidate screening tool. It looks at a point in time and assesses a candidate along multiple behavioral axes, then compares those scores to the ideal qualities required for a specific job. It will not tell a candidate that they can never be a CMO. It might highlight that, based on the candidate’s state of mind while assessing the ideal characteristics proffered by the hiring organization, a specific job may or may not be a perfect fit.

Tools like these are incredibly helpful in measuring intelligence and empathy (IQ and EQ) but not focusing on cultural fit or decency (CQ and DQ). Accordingly, there is a need to delve into assessing the candidates fit than even the most sophisticated IQ/EQ tools can offer. Indeed, as the databases of highly qualified candidate assessments grow, we see a flattening of distinction between the best-qualified candidates. We have been able to move past the purely subjective “feel” and provide data on fit, but what is the impact of selecting a candidate at a 93% match instead of a 92% match? A fuller picture is still required.

Importance of CQ and DQ

Most readers will be familiar with the quotation that “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein often misattributed this, although its true origins are unclear. What this sentiment does share, however, is the idea that there are multiple intelligences and competencies and that we must assess each on its own merits.

Peter Drucker’s theory that “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” advances that that sophisticated strategy is subject to failure if organizational culture is absent. As P. Christopher Earley and Elaine Mosakowsi note in a study published in Harvard Business Review, cultural intelligence and cultural quotient (CQ) are aligned to EQ. "A person with high emotional intelligence grasps what makes us human and at the same time what makes each of us different from one another. A person with high cultural intelligence can somehow tease out of a person’s or group’s behavior those features that would be true of all people and all groups, those peculiar to this person or this group, and those that are neither universal nor idiosyncratic."

Clearly both EQ and CQ would be beneficial in a leadership role. It is possible that they are more important than IQ, and the relationship among different intelligences can be of benefit to this examination as well.

Finally, an examination of Decency intelligence and Decency Quotient, or DQ. DQ implies that a person’s level of empathy and respect towards the professional other is an undisputable value add. DQ facilitates positive trajectories and outcomes for the collective, intensifying feelings of respect and value which proliferate loyalty and company profitability. DQ is scalable with the application of a scripted interaction. Demonstrating respect and recognizing individual proficiencies and dexterities augments inclusivity among employees. Pervasive DQ principles increase human productivity, impacting profitability. Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga delivered the theory of DQ, at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. “IQ is important. EQ is important. What really matters to me is DQ. If you can bring your decency quotient to work every day, you will make the company a lot of fun for people — and people will enjoy being there and doing the right thing.”

Jungian Archetypes and Company Culture

Given the difficulties in differentiating candidates from a homogeneous pool of skills and attributes, Jungian archetypes can give a better match faster than a single assessment tool. We have already piloted the application of Jungian archetypes in candidate matching, as the following case study demonstrates.

A private equity client decided to radically change their C-level leadership. We were asked to look at a strong replacement CMO for their healthcare service providers. We looked at their 5 largest regional competitors and were able to describe each CMO based on a specific Jungian archetype. This ultimately allowed the Client to understand the exact phenotype of their highly anticipated CMO but allowed us to target a group of well qualified candidates based on their skills and attributes [which were quite indistinguishable] and look more closely at their personality. We placed a Regional as well as a National CMO leader which was well received all round. We are in the process of studying a cohort of randomly selected CMOs to establish a more objective understanding of the proclivity of the most successful CMO archetypes relative to the Mission and Culture of the organization.

In the deploying the types, it is of course important to determine which schema of archetypes we are using. Jung developed several interrelated schemata throughout his career. The Personality Archetypes model to help us better understand help us understand better, dominant personality traits that allowed us to categorize leaders/people into 4 main groups. This is not necessarily fixed as personality like affect, can be fluid. Age comes with the wisdom of experience evident in stronger proclivities for definite personality traits.

Fundamentally four classifications, and subtypes that feed into the broader manifested archetype, depending on core desires:

  1. Provide Structure,
  2. Yearn for Paradise,
  3. Leave a Mark,
  4. Connect to Others.

Empirical evidence has verified that if a match between the client’s expectation and the candidate’s archetype align, culture and personality deliver synchronicity and synergy.

The following serve as examples only. Open access scientific data offers empirical support strengthening the scientific rigor of the proposed model. Profiles of CMOs are used as case studies to demonstrate the application of a Jungian archetype in search models. In the interest of privacy, these profiles are presented anonymously.

TITLE:             CMO
COMPANY:     Major Primary Care Network


  • 11 years at current company – 2 years as CMO, 3 years as CCO/SVP Clinical Performance, 4 years as SVP Clinical Documentation and Quality Improvement, 2 years as National Medical Director Clinical Documentation and Quality Initiatives, 1 year as Medical Director of Process Improvement and Quality Metrics and 1 year as Associate Medical Director Process Improvement and Quality Metrics, and 3 years as a Physician Lead
  • 9 years combined practice at primary care clinics of increasing size


  • BS Microbiology, MD, Family Medicine
  • American Male, Family Medicine Specialist
  • Strong advocate for high quality outcomes, patient satisfaction, affordable health care and clinician well-being
  • Active focusses on Process Improvement and Quality Initiatives
  • Evidence based Medicine driven


  • Demonstrates the classical SAGE archetype
  • Focusses on using Intelligence and Analysis to understand the world
  • Seeks out information and knowledge, self-reflection and understanding thought processes
  • The Sage is also known as the expert, scholar, advisor, thinker, philosopher, researcher, planner, mentor, teacher
  • Huge on Process Improvements to eliminate waste and not compromise quality outcomes
  • Very analytical, data driven using metrics and process improvements


TITLE:             CMO
COMPANY:     Medical Software Development


  • 11 years as CMO at current company
  • 5 years as CMO for regional healthcare network
  • 3 years as Regional Medical Director – regional healthcare system
  • 4 years as CEO – Medical Director, nonprofit medical foundation
  • 4 years as VP – health insurance provider


  • MD and MBA
  • American Male, Family Medicine Specialist
  • Strong advocate for Utilization Management, Quality Management, Disease Management, Health Education
  • Active in Business Development as the key agent for Strategic Planning and Implementation
  • Policies, Procedures, and Infrastructure focused to ensure 70,000 membership is well served


  • Demonstrates the classical SAGE archetype
  • Focusses on using Intelligence and Analysis to understand the world
  • Seeks out information and knowledge, self-reflection and understanding thought processes
  • The Sage is also known as the expert, scholar, advisor, thinker, philosopher, researcher, planner, mentor, teacher
  • Huge on Training and Systems to enable individuals and organizations in their quest to deliver personalized medicine at the right time, at the right place and at the right cost
  • Very data and metrics driven


TITLE:             CMO, VP Corporate Health & Safety
COMPANY:     Diversified computer hard- and software developer


  • 13 years at current company
  • First Wellbeing Director, then Director, Global Integrated Health Services, Chief Medical Officer, Director of Integrated Health, and Safety and now Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Corporate Health & Safety


  • BS, MD, and MPH
  • African American Female
  • Strong advocate for Wellness, Mental Health and Occupational Health & Safety, and Population Health.
  • Global outlook managing 250 physicians around the world guiding global health benefits design and strategy.
  • Strong advocate of machine learning and AI


  • Consistent with company corporate perspective as the RULER.
  • Focusses on Stability and Control.
  • Power isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
  • Goal is to create a prosperous, successful business community.
  • Wellness, Safety, AI and Machine Learning, Harmony at Work.
  • Engagement is key to having people follow


IECDQ & Jung: Providing a Holistic Outlook

Finding fit within a talented and profoundly similar pool of candidates requires all the resources one can muster. Quantitative assessment tools are scientifically rigorous, expose surface unconscious bias prematurely. The overlay of Jungian personality archetypes intensifies the depth of a candidate’s suitability. While tools like the PXT Select are instrumental in determining candidate-to-role fit, the possible limitation is that PXT may not offer sufficient depth to determine the candidate-to-company fit.

Improving the overlap of personality archetypes provides supplementary insight: how might a Sage fit with a company culture primarily described by the Outlaw or the Innocent? The holistic view can accommodate the tripartite candidate-role-company fit,

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