Please say hello to our board members at our next meeting.
Carol Shumate spoke to the group in January on the topic of the Trickster archetype and leadership.
Leadership is one of the most popular topics for business literature. At the January BAAPT meeting, Carol Shumate, author, educator and long-time Type practitioner, presented some fascinating new perspectives from her forthcoming book, Leadership – Mastering the Subtle Balance. Carol has been studying and analyzing well known “epic fails” by leaders throughout history and has identified a key Type-related dynamic, based on John Beebe’s model that links the 8 Function-Attitudes to 8 archetypal energies.
Carol builds the case that leadership necessarily requires drawing on our tertiary preference, which carries the archetypal energy of the “Eternal Child”. The Eternal Child archetype carries a hopeful, positive openness. The Eternal Child’s shadow partner, in Beebe’s model, is in the unconscious 7th Function-Attitude, with the archetypal energy of the “Trickster”. The trickster, like all the unconscious archetypes (perhaps also the conscious ones) works both for us, by coming to our defense, often by creating double binds that trap or confound our enemies, and “against” us, by double binding ourselves into situations where we must confront unconscious aspects of ourselves.
In a healthy person, a non-pathological level of narcissism (self love) is associated with “divine innocence” – which can lead to vulnerability. We use our Trickster archetypal energy to protect against excessive vulnerability. Leaders need to balance both the optimism of the Eternal Child and the wiliness of the “Trickster”. Some leaders lose the balance and can become, in Jung’s terminology, subject to “Archetypal Possession”, where the archetypal energy dominates, becoming like a mask and obscuring the full personality. Extreme expressions of this dynamic manifest as pathological narcissism, characterized by grandiosity, rage, denial/delusions and self-absorption.
Interestingly, as Carol suggests, the best defense against narcissism in a leader is our own Trickster. By knowing our own Trickster, we sense the Trickster energy in others and can use our Trickster wiles to avoid damage to ourselves. (Note from Vic: An example of this recognition might be President Nixon’s detractors who called him “Tricky Dick”.)
Carol shared, as handouts, descriptions of the Eternal Child and the Trickster archetypes as they typically are experienced by each of the 8 Function-Attitude pairs. These descriptions, and more, can be found in the “F-A Type Decoder” tool that Carol co-developed with Bob McAlpine and which can be accessed through Type Resources.
We look forward to Carol’s book!
-- Victor Ortiz