My initial exposure to Rosenburg’s (n.d.) model of Jackal and Giraffe modes of communication was my first step in developing the archetypal model for dialogic process. I have detailed Rosenburg’s model previously in this paper, but here is a reminder of how the separate, fragmented relationship between the Giraffe and Jackal appears as a diagram:

Figure 13. Rosenberg's model

Figure 13. Rosenberg's model

A major influence on my work toward the archetypal model of dialogic process was the elemental model from the western magical tradition. Starhawk is a well-known resource for an archetypal model that offers correspondences between elements, directions and qualities (1999) and for a model of group process and leadership (1990).

While there are models of elemental correspondence in many cultures, it is important to recognize that this particular model is from the Western cultural tradition. Practitioners of other cultural traditions will recognize significant differences; in particular this is not a model of the five-element theory from Chinese medicine (Hsu, 2005), nor is it a model of the Native American medicine wheel (Storm, 1972). While there may be use in comparing these various cultural models, the important caveat is that the Starhawk’s model is culturally bound. [3. Reed (2004), an Antioch colleague, developed a process model with elemental, seasonal, direction and quality correspondences that is based on the Native American medicine wheel in her student symposium presentation, for example. ]

I will begin with two diagrams which represent the correspondence between Starhawk’s elemental model and the cardinal directions:

Figure 14. Starhawk’s direction correspondences

Figure 14. Starhawk’s direction correspondences

Figure 15. Starhawk’s element correspondences

Figure 15. Starhawk’s element correspondences

In Truth or Dare, Starhawk (1990) links the elemental qualities to group roles and group process. Starhawk corresponds the seasonal attributions of the directional and elemental model to a model of group growth and process:

“One model of group development is based on the four directions and the four elements of the Wiccan magic circle. No group follows these stages in perfect order; they are merely a framework for thinking about group changes over time, as well as for identifying some of the dynamic polarities that exist in groups” (1990, pp. 264-265).

Placing Starhawk’s group stages and the seasons in the same structure as I used for the directions and elements results in these two diagrams:

Figure 16. Starhawk's stages of group growth

Figure 16. Starhawk's stages of group growth

Figure 17. Starhawk's seasonal correspondences

Figure 17. Starhawk's seasonal correspondences

Starhawk (1990) connects these stages of group process to leadership roles that are filled by individuals. This archetypal model of individual roles linked to group process echoes the way roles can be filled noted previously in Propp (1971):

“The four directions and four elements of the magic circle are a useful framework for thinking about the roles and tasks of leadership. None of these roles are exclusive, and although they can be formalized when appropriate, they are not necessarily assigned to different people. Rather, they are aspects of power we each might assume at different times. The names I provide here are aids in helping us identify the powers that are needed if a group is to survive and grow” (Starhawk, 1990, p. 277).

Starhawk (1990) explains the leadership roles (Crows, Graces, Snakes, Dragons, and Spider):

“For the East, the direction of air, of the mind and vision, we have the Crows, who keep an overview of the group’s tasks and progress. For the South, the direction of fire, of energy, we have the Graces, who help the group expand. For the West, the direction of water, of emotions, we have the Snakes, who keep an underview of the group’s feelings and emotions. For the North, the direction of earth, of body and finitude, we have the Dragons, who establish and guard the group’s boundaries, who keep the group grounded. In the center, the place of spirit, we have the Spider, who weaves the group’s connections” (p. 277).

Applying the same diagram structure to Starhawk’s model of roles individuals take within groups results in the following:

Figure 18. Starhawk's leadership roles

Figure 18. Starhawk's leadership roles

Issacs (1999b) speaks of a dialogical leader being one that balances four possible “moves” which he takes from Kantor. Issacs introduces Kantor’s model of four moves:

“In any conversation, some people move – they initiate ideas. Other people follow – they complete what is said and support what is happening. Still others oppose – they challenge what is being said. And others bystand – they provide perspective on what is happening” (1999b, p. 1). [emphasis in original]

Issacs points out that there is a missing move in Kantor’s model:

“Balanced action, in the sense named here, is an essential and necessary pre-condition for dialogue” (1999b, p. 4).

By taking each move as necessary within the dynamics of a group, Isaacs’ balance is a fifth move of dynamic equilibrium introduced to Kantor:

“A dialogic leader will often look for ways to restore balance in people's interactions” (1999b, p. 3).

Issacs also speaks to the way in which these moves are related to the ideas of inquiry and advocacy and that this relationship between advocacy and inquiry is balance:

"'Dialogic leadership' is the term I have given to a way of leading that consistently uncovers, through conversation, the hidden creative potential in any situation. Four distinct qualities support this process: the abilities (1) to evoke people's genuine voices, (2) to listen deeply, (3) to hold space for and respect as legitimate other people's views, and (4) to broaden awareness and perspective. Put differently, a dialogic leader is balanced, and evokes balance, because he can embody all four of these qualities and can activate them in others” (1999b, p. 2).

Balance also means that all group roles are important, because without one the work of the group is hindered:

“To advocate well, you must move and oppose well; to inquire, you must bystand and follow. Yet, again, the absence of any of the elements hinders interaction” (1999b, p. 3).

Connecting Starhawk's (1990) model to Kantor's (Kantor cited in Isaacs, 1999b) four moves and Issacs' (1999b) fifth, balancing strategy, I suggest corresponding bystand to north, move to east, opposer to south, follow to west:

Figure 19. Kantor's four player system

Figure 19. Kantor's four player system

Issacs' fifth move of balance or dialogic leadership, I place in the center of this diagram:

Figure 20. Kantor's moves, plus Isaacs' fifth move

Figure 20. Kantor's moves, plus Isaacs' fifth move

This arrangement of moves is adapted from that presented by Isaacs. Inquiry (move and oppose) and advocacy (bystand and follow) grouping are no longer across from each other, but arranged next to one another. Isaacs’ central balancing move participates in both inquiry and advocacy:

Figure 21. New relationship of Inquiry / Advocacy

Figure 21. New relationship of Inquiry / Advocacy

Isaacs uses these moves to build a model of the practices of dialogic leadership: “Dialogic leaders cultivate listening, suspending, respecting, and voicing” (1999b, p. 5). I have placed “cultivate” as the fifth practice of dialogic leadership, in the location of center and balance, although Isaacs does not himself make this practice of cultivation part of his model.

Figure 22. Isaacs' dialogic leadership, plus fifth practice

Figure 22. Isaacs' dialogic leadership, plus fifth practice

Isaacs introduces the principles that are behind each of the four practices of dialogic leadership:

“So beneath the practice of listening is the principle of participation; behind respecting is the principle of coherence, behind suspending, the principle of awareness, and behind voicing, the principle of unfoldment” (1999a, p. 81).

Building on what I’ve already shown, I would like to suggest adding a fifth principle to match the fifth practice of cultivation. Because the practice of dialogue is one of transformation, I suggest that beneath the practice of cultivation is a fifth principle of change, or transformation. [4. To compliment the key phrases that Isaacs introduces for each principle a possible key phrase for this fifth principle could be: "everything that changes touches; everything that touches changes.” I suggest this with apologies to Lauren Liebling and Starhawk who authored the traditional Goddess chant of which the relevant part is “She changes everything she touches, everything she touches changes.” ]

Figure 23. Isaacs' four principles, plus fifth principle

Figure 23. Isaacs' four principles, plus fifth principle

Isaacs' dialogical leader embodies the archetypal roles that are necessary to dynamically balance group process. However, the center position is not limited to taking on the other roles as necessary, but holds on to a strategy that the roles must be in dynamic balance as a whole. This central role cultivates the other practices, and its own, through transformation and change. This may be a subtle distinction. In one, the role of the dialogical leader is to take on other roles that include a center role of balance, which creates a necessary imbalance, which is a distinctly different strategy than maintaining a balance between the other strategies. When imbalance is necessary, extreme strategies might be taken to un-stick the existing state of the group and this is different than a strictly balancing strategy. The central position balances others, cultivates Issacs’ practices of dialogic leadership in others and is itself informed by all five principles of dialogue, which includes change and transformation.

So, there can be stable and unstable relationships between these strategies. Reflecting the circles of engagement, the actors that embody these strategies within a group or organization may also be willing, unwilling, able or unable. They may be willing to work toward dynamic balance. They may be able to work toward dynamic balance. The actors in the group may also be unwilling, unable or both. Those that are unable may be able to learn, become able. The unable may be inadvertently damaging to the group, but not usually with malice. Those that are unwilling, however, are likely to be overtly or covertly hostile. I suggest that these roles can exist in interpenetrating layers, that individuals can express these within themselves as part of their own process and that individuals can reflect roles within groups where other individuals reflect other roles.

While balance is a static strategy dynamic equilibrium is not the same strategy as balance. Isaacs’ concept of dialogic leadership is a strategy that takes on the roles of the others in a pragmatic fashion (1999b). This strategic dynamism is also reflected in the Thomas-Killman conflict model as the collaborative style (DRC, 2003). Starhawk represented this with the center position of spider that “is most effective, however, not by monopolizing communication but by asking questions that can create and strengthen a true and complex web of interaction” (1987). However, in each there's a conflation of the center position, a strategy of static balance, with a dynamic strategy of appropriate, useful tension between balance and imbalance. The strategy of taking on various roles as necessary is different than a strategy that sees each role as important and useful to take on at particular times.

Keirsey examined the history of temperaments in relation to the MBTI model and points out that there are historical connections between the two (1998). Keirsey includes the elemental entities of Paracelsus, which therefore creates a direct correspondence to the elemental model that is developed by Starhawk (1997) into her group leadership model. Keirsey offers four core temperaments: Artisan, Guardian, Idealist, and Rationalist.

Figure 24. Keirsey's four temperaments

Figure 24. Keirsey's four temperaments

Keirsey’s work is phenomenal in many ways, but I find there is a significant missing element. Within the MBTI results, it is possible to have values that result in an X type in any of the four indicators. I would suggest, as a temperament that there be considered a type with all X values, a dynamic personality type. This X-type is what I call the Alchemist temperament. This temperament is dedicated to the project of creating the whole self through the constant dynamic processes of disintegration and integration. This temperament is engaged in the alchemy of the self, the search for dynamic wholeness, described by Jung in Mysterium Conjunctionis (1970). This search for wholeness and connection in dialogue is echoed by both Bohm (2000) and Isaacs (1999a), and is clearly key in the notion of the Spider as articulated by Starhawk (1990). Whether on the level of individual or group, entities with the temperament of the Alchemist are engaged in becoming dynamic and powerful whole selves. I would place this fifth temperament, this archetype, in the center position of the previous diagram:

Figure 25. Keirsey's temperaments, plus fifth X-type

Figure 25. Keirsey's temperaments, plus fifth X-type

Posted by John Bell on December 10, 2006
Tags: The Fifth Principle of Dialogue