In 1889, Vincent Van Gogh wrote, “Let’s not forget that little emotions are the great captains of our lives, and we obey them without realizing it.” Emotions command our attention, refusing to be cast aside, influencing both our ‘rational’ decisions and, at times, our ‘irrational’ behaviours. It is in the swampy mud of emotions that we are threatened, moved, and revealed. Emotions are primal to our (human) nature (Immordino-Yang, 2007; LeDoux, 2015; Panksepp, 2004) and, from cradle to grave, influence who we are and who we become, as individuals and leaders. Yet, leadership programs are often prescriptive (Shields, 2012), with a primary focus on behavioural actions to achieve predefined organizational goals.
Successful leaders of the future will need to have an understanding of their own emotional, irrational sides, and those of others. They will also need exceptional interpersonal skills based on a true appreciation of their own and others’ unconscious processes. And finally, leaders will have to live their values without becoming trapped in their prejudices, projections, defences—unconscious belief patterns (Crossan & Mazutis, 2007; Crossan et al., 2013; Jaworski, 1998; Kalsched, 1996; Kets deVries, 2001, 2006; Ketola, 2012; Rozuel 2011; Rozuel & Ketola, 2012; Mazutis, 2007; Pearson, 1986). For leaders, this may include the complicated task of building staff and organizational capacity to support gender and culturally diverse staffing groups.
Emotions cut to the core of people; they lie at the heart of internal processes, contributing to our sense of self and influencing our thoughts, beliefs, patterns of interactions, and relationships (Lupton 1998; Rozuel 2011). Neuroscience research is now confirming that self/Self is predicated on unconscious ‘affective’ processes, which bridge the collective mind to the individual mind (Alcaro et al., 2017). Becoming aware of the inevitable emotional influences helps us to understand, anticipate and interpret behaviours and attitudes in ourselves and others.
If you wish to explore how your own emtional (internal) processes influence your leadership, please contact me to discuss scheduling an appointment.
Linda McFalls, Ph.D.(c), LCSW, RSW
#222- 6030 88 St.
Rycor Business Centre
780 996 7655