A Man
Overboard

 

 

 

An Interview with David T. Kyle


The gap between positional power and personal power can be chock full of shadow.

So says David T. Kyle, Ph.D. in his book, The Four Powers of Leadership. Rather than simply ask him questions about his writing, I went way off script in my interview with Kyle because I wanted to understand how his insightful ideas might be of help to today’s leadership in MKP. (I hope everyone considers themselves a leader in MKP or in their own life …)

This article is a principled evaluation of leadership, and is in no way intended as an indictment of any of our current MKPI leaders, who I know personally and trust, nor of any other leaders at the center level … nor is it directed at our certified leadership. It is for no one specifically, and everyone generally.

I do believe, as an organization we can withstand the scrutiny of Dr. David T. Kyle, a man whose business it is to look for shadows in organizations.

“Positional power gives us the authority that our parents, teachers and bosses had over us. We will tend to act out in the shadow expression what has been acted out upon us. If parents did not permit us to be angry, we will often project our anger onto others when give the chance. Positional power, in the role as manager, president or any form off recognized leader, gives the shadow side of the unconscious permission to act out what it fears to do in other circumstances. Because we take on the Sovereign authority when we gain new positional power, the ego begins to justify the emergence of both subtle and obvious shadow behavior.”

I kicked off my challenges to Kyle by rehearsing what I’d heard Robert Moore tell me: the greatest threat to MKP is our inclination toward “tribalism.” So, how do we avoid this slide into tribalism and work to become truly inclusive?

“How wide the gap is between positional power and personal power determines how you begin to actually work with the dynamics of an organization,” Kyle began. “I talk about the ‘faker’ – the shadow that comes up when a person is put into a position of power without the personal preparation. There’s a natural gap there where you don’t know what to do and some learning will go on. And, that’s also where the temptation is to ‘fake’ what you should do … that’s where the shadows start manifesting full on.”

Most of Kyle’s experience is in the real world of business. He sees how shadows play out in dollars and cents.

“I’ll work with a client who is at risk for losing his job because he was very successful at a director-level position. He demonstrated he was ready, from a management point of view, to become a VP. After six months at his new position he’s showing aberrant behavior, yelling at people, and the Human Resources Dept is complaining about all the trouble.”

And the client is obviously in denial, the author adds.

“At heart, the client is afraid when his personal power is not matching his positional power,” he added.

The desire to develop my leadership is a big reason I’m still in MKP. As your humble Editor for The New Warrior Journal, I’ve developed more of my leadership, but not without having to do my own personal work and change some of my perceptions.

“Many leaders believe they already know how to run an organization, and they hold a perception of the way things ought to be. Too often the positional power begins to drive the viewpoint they started with instead of them being open to the obvious changes. So, you’ve got an apple that you’re looking at and it’s all red and luscious, but the blind side is bruised with a worm coming out of it. You invite the partner apart from you to take a bite of his side of the apple. He’s going to say, ‘no.’ You could spend all day trying to convince him how delicious it looks from your side, but the guy won’t budge because he doesn’t see the apple the same way you do. The viewpoint is always driving the relationships we are in. Too often we spend more time promoting our agenda instead of clearly stating the obvious differences. “

According to Kyle, the challenge is to “speak into other people’s listening.”

“It’s what Robert Moore talks about with the four quadrants. It’s about ultimately creating a bigger context for our own perception. It’s real easy in MKP to be in our Warrior and focus on our intentionality. We also need to have enough personal development, or context, to access the Magician. The goal is to combine both forces to get the skill, knowledge, and experience that begets transparent leadership.”

The Warrior-Magician constellation is what tends to get rewarded in MKP, Kyle said. That’s usually the energy that easily climbs the positional ladder.

“On the other side is the being, the Lover or artist, in a man. If you can get the Magician-Warrior working together with the Lover … in that quality of tension is where the work really goes on.”

Without an open heart from the Lover, it’s too easy to lose the sense of stewardship and slip into the Shadow King, Kyle noted.

“What I see happening sometimes in a Warrior environment is people who begin to get a little of the feeling and tension between the Warrior and the Magician, but what they do not access is the larger quality of presence which is the Sovereign energy of holding the stewardship for something larger.”

Kyle said that if we, as men, do not hold a larger context for our own life by doing our personal work, then we will surrender ourselves to old institutional patterns.

“Organizations have shadow patterns created by the individual shadow of its leaders, and often the art of language is used to cover up the shadows. This inclination we have in MKP to calling people out and all that … can activate the bully part of both the Warrior and King. What leadership has to do is hold the energy of possibility and contain a broader context for a broader discussion. Old-style leadership relies on the past with its predictability, certainty, and control. That’s more the job of management.”

Kyle said that the future of institutional power depends on a vision from men who have achieved personal power, with the ability to access insight, intuition, and strategy. If an organization is left only to a handful of men stuck within their personal context - without understanding the concomitant contexts of others – we’ll go ‘round and round and never break out into new solutions.”

“We keep reformulating all the answers from the past,” he continued. “The context shapes the action. And everyone brings their own context of being, white, black, straight, gay, Christian or Jewish. Each of us in our context wants predictability and control, so we’re going to make a decision – consciously or unconsciously – to do it our way. If we don’t articulate the current context, we’ll never get to creating the bigger picture for the future. We have to agree on what has value and meaning.”

Okay, Doc, but both sides are going to accuse the other of not having the larger context for the future …

“It’s the leadership that needs to create contextual space around an arena of trust … there’s earned trust, there’s granted trust, and developed trust.”

According to the consultant, earned trust is what gets developed over time, from experience and interactions.

“In MKP we have to grant trust because we don’t have time [or the space together] to earn trust. I don’t know you … and there’s a natural inclination not to trust you. The only thing that can provide a granted trust is the commonality of our commitment.”

I’m going to say that again because I believe this is Dr. Kyle’s greatest contribution to a leadership discussion: “The only thing that can provide a granted trust is the commonality of our commitment.”

“I grant you trust that you will do what you’re going to do for our shared values,” he continued. “I don’t think you can get to an organization’s vision statement until you can get to a clear declaration of what people are committed to individually, and as a larger group. If men are going to be in MKP then they have to have a commitment to the institution. I can’t trust you if you’re going to run away, or go into a corner. If I say I’m committed and act in another way, I’m a saboteur. “

This might be considered strong language to some men …

“When creating a future, an organization cannot create it by majority rules,” Kyle said. “It has to be around alignment with commitment. And, you want diversity because it gives you robustness.”

But what about acknowledging the years of oppression in target groups?

“The conversation of alignment is very explicit – we do not create the future around what I want or what you want. It’s a scale issue. You’ve got individuals, target groups, I-Groups, regional groups, the institution of MKP, and all the men in the world. The conversation gets lost and confused because people are speaking at different scales.”

This sounds like Personal/Interpersonal/Institutional/Cultural …

“Yes, my fundamental premise is that everyone wants to contribute and wants to make a difference. We may get frustrated, angry, and out of sync – but everyone wants to contribute. If that is the fundamental view, then we have a larger context for the discussion.”

Kyle invited me to imagine two intersecting circles of you and me.

“Where they overlap is where our agreement can be … the other parts are the diversities we hold apart. The MKP model is that where we’re together is the overlap. If I add a third person, the overlap becomes smaller. What people begin to do then is arm wrestle other people down; they try to get others to agree to their view. The tendency is for people on the receiving end to fight for awhile and then give up and agree.”

Here’s where I would say that the “personally powerful men” in MKP also carry a certain institutional power in their ability to express themselves.

“When I do my work with a company, I tell them to ‘leave their stripes’ at the door. You set up a point of equality in the context of what the game is going to be. Most institutional problems come from the rules not being declared. We’re not going to arm wrestle every one. There have to be limits to the contribution. If one person’s view dominates, then others are left out.”

I wanted to invite Dr. Kyle to look at a few of our MKP chat lists.

“So, alignment is about outlining a proposal - a call to do something. [like initiate men?] Then there’s a very rigorous question that I ask, ‘is anyone not aligned with the proposal? Silence means I’m aligned. If I’m silent and I’m privately not aligned, that means I’m a saboteur.”

For Kyle, the first part of any organizational conversation is about clarity and what fits or doesn’t fit in an ongoing dialogue.

“Alright … as we go through the dialogue can you stay committed to the proposal? With whatever reservations come up, can you still keep your eye on what will keep the game in play?”

Kyle has staffed a number of NWTA’s and said he has seen for himself how a man’s need to express himself personally … emotionally … can sidetrack the intention of a meeting.

“I think the word ‘saboteur” still fits when a man’s commitment to his own needs are greater than his commitment to a shared agenda. I think the shadow in MKP is that we strive so hard to get men into their feelings that it can become a hammer on the organization. The feelings become the dominant idol that nobody can touch, and when nobody can touch that, it freezes the organization. It’s a big shadow that’s driving the organization underground. We’re declaring by default that the values of the organization are not primary. The emotional energy doesn’t serve what is going on, and it becomes implosive back on the organization. It drives people out.”

Kyle said it’s all too easy to fall into a perpetrating/victim mode.

“When a man stands up and complains, it can be a legitimate complaint, a recreational complaint, or a destructive complaint with the intent to stop the organization – which is a commitment not to the organization , but to the victimization of his own pain. It runs all the way through anger, to despair, to withdrawal, to whimpering with people who are locked into themselves - all relative to the scale of the organization.”

The challenge is to help people scale up.

“We must move out of the man’s individual shadow stuff - it’s his own shadow dilemma projected onto the organization. We must call the man on his commitment. If I was facilitating a man whose intention was to project his shadow, I’d say, ‘okay, I hear the following from you. Will you give me feedback? I hear anger, frustration … what else is it beyond the content? Ultimately I hear you’ve got a big commitment to this part in your life and you want to put that commitment into this organization. Besides that, what are you committed for here, in what we’re doing now? What’s your attachment to this energy? If he’s not willing to look at that then it’s a subtle or overt sabotage from him in order to create his own agenda … his own viewpoint.”

We’ve got to return frequently to the commitments we’ve made within the organization, to “reaffirm our fundamental commitment in a larger MKP.”

It was very interesting to hear how Kyle works with business people who are actually willing to look at their own shadow to achieve a greater common goal – even if it’s money. He will simply ask the person about ongoing problems in the company, and then will readily detect some chronic issues. In his process Dr. Kyle does a variety of personal assessments of the client, including stress patterns, personality styles, development cycles, etc. The business person ends up with a 50-page customized evaluation of how they show up at work.

“We see how their personal development is influencing their institutional involvement. It motivates people to change for the sake of their performance.”

This is astounding to me.

I had to ask, ‘What do we do if a person’s energy is not really developmental, but becomes something toxic – like hatred?

“That’s a tough one …. from an organizational point of view it can’t be tolerated. It’s the domain of leadership’s clear direction and policy to stop it. If hatred is running rampant, it means the King is impotent, and leadership is impotent, unwilling to commit to our values. These are boundary issues around security and safety, and the ability to promote that which is for the good of the organization. People have to be willing to accept boundaries.”

The underlying basis of most of Kyle’s thinking is based on Robert Moore’s four-quarter model.

“My view of mapping on the typology in the four quarters is that the Warrior is thinking, the Magician is intuiting, the Lover is sensation, and the King is feeling.”

In his book, the author assigns compassion to the Lover, wisdom to the Magician, intention to the Warrior, and presence to the King.

“The feeling quality creates the field of experience,” he related. “That’s why the King holds the context; he sits and holds the field of what the whole thing feels like. And oh brother, if he’s not feeling good it’s because there’s a lot of Shadow King stuff going on. “

Initiated in 1994 in San Diego, Kyle said he’s been involved in another ongoing men’s group for 18 years. He said his son, Chris Kyle, got him back doing NWTA’s.

“Chris is on the leader track in Tucson and he and I recently staffed together with another son-in-law.”

David Kyle said he loves the NWTA that introduces men “to that place of going within.”

“My place is within MKP,” he declared, “over all the ongoing men’s groups in the world. In this day, in our culture, it’s one of those organizations that really gives men access to opening up, psychologically, and it gets you from the head down into your body.”

So where are we as an organization?

“The first stage of revolution is really about autonomy, and the heart of autonomy is asking how you begin to decentralize? That’s the place you guys have moved into in MKP. The challenge of decentralization … if you don’t have strong leadership, you can predict the curve of the organization fracturing. So leadership’s job is to create a big enough context for everyone as you’re moving through parts of the world with your fundamental values, processes, and systems. If the commitment isn’t strong enough, then I agree with Robert Moore, the organization splits and becomes fragmented.”

I’d hazard a guess that many of us individually have some fragmented parts of our own psyche we haven’t yet integrated.

“Those who don’t confront this integration feel the emergence of the Self but connect the grandeur of it to their egos, becoming self-inflated by their perceptions of themselves as godlike and superior to others. Others may react in the opposite manner and be overcome by the Self’s approach to the ego. Consequently, they come to feel small and weak – victims of some large and incomprehensible force. Still others take this onset of the Self’s presence as the manifestation of God and they worship the Self as such. Jung in fact, suggested that the Self does hold the God-image for us; yet, the Self is not God. Many people, leaders included, often erroneously confuse their Selves with God.”

Amen. I told Kyle that I thought his book was revolutionary in his deep four-quarter approach to working with organizations. It would be marvelous to have him facilitate one of our Project Councils … or Visioning marathons.

“Thank you, Reid, for the affirmation. I realized over the years that each thing I do has its own purpose and direction. As in all our work it is mostly for ourselves to open and learn what we each need to awaken to existence. I am grateful that the book rippled in your direction.”

Kyle is at work on a couple of other non-fiction works along with a couple of novels. I asked him why he thought it took me ten years to find his book, The Four Powers of Leadership.

“One of the feedbacks from the business community is that it is too deep and not something you get quick answers from as you read it on an airplane. My publisher published 20k copies because they believed it was going to really sell. I did a tour, many radio interviews and I mailed out copies with a letter to then President Clinton, all members of Congress, all Governors, Supreme Court Judges, as well as many business leaders. I got some good responses back, but no real traction for the book. People like the book when I talk about it in interviews or presentations and they get the essence of the gap between personal and positional power, as well as the shadow aspects. In my coaching the relationships between the four powers and what goes on in a person’s life and position opens up the power for practices and transformation … I’ve always thought the Warrior community would be a place it could have impact. When I staffed with my son in the Northwest region last Fall, Nick Gargala was the leader. He and I connected, and he appreciated the book. When the book first came out I sent Robert Moore a copy extending my appreciation of his work and influence on me ...”

Kyle’s words were beautifully lyrical in our Email exchanges – I sense the essence of a truly balanced and mature man in his sacred masculine.

”I am sitting in my office today in a snowstorm. Incredibly beautiful. It is all in shades of black, grey and white. Clouds are hovering low and the wind is creating a dance in the trees with snow blowing off them in huge gusts. My wife, Patt, and I started a cleansing fast a couple of days ago, so there is an inner match to the quiet around us in the woods.”

David Kyle, Author of The Four Powers of Leadership and Human Robots & Holy Mechanics: Reclaiming our souls in a machine world. Lind & Kyle Consultants, Nevada City, California USA, www.lindandkyle.com or 530.265.9761 or E-Mail Plus, The Hermitage in Spring.

© 2006, Reid Baer

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The fame you earn has a different taste from the fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria Vanderbilt

Reid Baer, an award-winning playwright for “A Lyon’s Tale” is also a newspaper journalist, a poet with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide, and a novelist with his first book released this month entitled Kill The Story. Baer has been a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and currently edits The New Warrior Journal for The ManKind Project www.mkp.org . He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.



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