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Gods of Management

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Gods of Management

The Changing Work of Organizations

Oxford UP,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A philosopher compares today’s management styles to the archetypal figures of mythological Greek gods.

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Philosopher Charles Handy compares today’s dominant management styles to the qualities of four mythological Greek gods. Drawing archetypal inspiration from Zeus, Apollo, Athena and Dionysus. Handy breaks down the subtle differences that inform competing approaches to management. He argues that today’s managers face making the transition from a hierarchical corporate Apollonian culture to a more diverse, democratic one. In this evergreen business classic, Handy posits that increased complexity and individualism will fuel a reign of new managerial gods.


The mythological Greek gods embody contemporary management archetypes.

The ancient Greeks saw their gods as more than theological deities. Each god represented specific interests and values. People decided which gods they would serve according to their sense of alignment with each deity’s symbolic emphasis. Today, leaders can choose among four different management styles and corresponding corporate cultures represented by the mythological gods Zeus, Apollo, Athena and Dionysus.

Each god symbolically embodies different leadership views of influence, power, human motivation, change and the future of work.

Leaders must understand four Greek-god-inspired cultures.

Use the power of these Greek-god-inspired cultures to help you navigate different contexts:

  1. The Club Culture – The organizational culture that Zeus represents relies on divisions of labor, with those closest to the organization’s center wielding the most influence and power, and all workers reporting to a central authority. Zeus-like cultures are pervasive in entrepreneurial organizations, ...

About the Author

Irish philosopher Charles Handy also wrote The Second Curve: Thoughts on Reinventing Society; Understanding Organizations; and Beyond Certainty.

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