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Do you live in the now or ponder the posibility of tomorrow?
I have often written about leadership styles and made references to the difference between Warrior leaders (one focused solely on the immediate task) and King leaders (one focused on long term goals). Now let’s look at two of the other predominant male archetypes, the Lover and Magician, and dissect their methods of communication and when each is most appropriate.
In the Jungian lexicon of mature male archetypes, the Lover is often held as the great communicator, one who can effectively capture what is said and evoke empathy with the speaker and in turn communicate clearly to the masses. Lovers are often considered great Lovers not because of their sexual prowess but because of their ability to connect with their partner. Anyone who has ever had any consistent success with women will tell you it is because they are perceived (that being the operative word) as great and empathetic listener. Lovers excel because of their ability to be present and live in the now. Much like the Warrior they have become disciplined in a form of tunnel vision. They are unconcerned with what’s next and often are not connected to the bigger picture. Often Lovers who are bombarded with big picture thinking find themselves becoming withdrawn and falling into some sort of addictive behavior and allows them to get back to tunnel vision mode. Alternatively they turn to an extremist environment where the now is actually life and death. Someone jumping out of an airplane doesn’t really have the luxury of contemplating what might be for dinner.
Contrast this with the communication mastery of the mature Magician: one who is a master of the question. Magicians are rarely wedded to the now and certainly have little use for five minutes ago, let alone the distant past. Instead they are driven by the possibilities of the unknown. Their communications can often appear vague and overly optimistic. After all, their world is one of limitless possibilities. When a Magician feels weighed done by the present of saddled by the past they will usually default in either of two directions: that of the authoritarian or liars, declaring something as the absolute truth so as to shut down further conversation; or the innocent, feigning ignorance as a means of avoiding any responsibility for the immediate conversation.
So how does having access to this road map help anyone? To start, understand what type of communicator you are. Do you get more enjoyment out of providing play by play or forecasting possible results? Do you look to build consensus or identify loopholes you can exploit in the future? Keep in mind that these are not mutually exclusive tendencies. Some people are adept at moving between Lover and Magician but as with being a righty or lefty, even someone who is ambidextrous will have a dominant side.
Once your know your “side” and have sufficiently embraced it – by that I mean if it is in you nature to be empathetic don’t try to kill that part of you by attempting to become exploitive; conversely, if you are adept at problem solving, sitting around a campfire singing Kumbayah is properly not high on your to do list, so don’t beat yourself up for being cold and calculating – look at the demands of your immediate situation and ask yourself, “am I the best person to take this on?”. For example: placating an angry mob is no place for a Magician – which is probably why so many “witches” wound up being burnt at the stake; their inability to tap into the emotion of the mob and comfort it by saying the right thing – regardless of whether or not they believed any of it – lead to their demise. On the other hand, the geeks we remember from our childhood have often gone off to be ridiculously successful because they were able to reject the comfort of belonging and trade it in for the possibilities that come from exploiting the inefficiencies in the system. In short, Lovers see the good in the moment and can harness it to move forward while Magicians see the possibility that comes from identifying what’s wrong and figuring out how to exploit the inefficiency.
A really simplistic example of this is the whole Tea Party movement. They have identified what’s wrong – big government – but their solution is fairly simplistic – less government. I submit there are probably very few, if any, Magician communicators or thinkers in the Tea Party. Magicians are the guys on Wall Street, the folks who created derivatives and hedges funds to exploit the inefficiencies in the market. They were less concerned with repair and more concerned with positioning themselves for the next wave.
So before I get too political, I’ll call it quits for now and will try to grapple with where my style fits in on this spectrum. Next time I will address how to actually apply one of these styles as a tool in effective leadership.