On the management board with Sigmund Freud

Managers are only human, just like everybody else. They are therefore on one hand controlled by their conscious minds, but on the other hand by unconscious behavioral and emotional patterns, stemming from early childhood experiences. We call this the conflict between the conscious and the unconscious mind. As a business leader you need to be aware of this conflict, otherwise strength and energy might be wasted, and are consequently lacking in your business procedures. An advisor who brings both business acumen as well as psychological insights could coach you to new peak performances.

Sigmund Freud, member of the board

Imagine, Sigmund Freud (or Alfred Adler, or C.G. Jung) would be your colleague on the managing board and responsible for human resources – hence your staff. And your much appreciated colleague, who has a way of psychodynamic thinking, would consider it his task to make the managing board work together in an optimal way – as a panel and as a team. In all interactions with his co-workers, Manager Freud would not focus on analyzing their actions and statements, but would try to perceive all the people around him as a combination of their conscious and unconscious mind. He would not see their education or their careers as the origin of their behavior, but would look further in their past – well aware of the fact, that their conscious and unconscious experiences during the first years of their lives shaped and influenced their individual thoughts, feelings and actions. We all experience, learn and create our inner reality through the external normality, which our parents showed us – to a lesser extent from single situations or from interactions, but from the day-to-day atmosphere we remember. How we behave and react in our daily business lives, for example during negotiations, presentations or managerial situations, is crucially defined during early childhood.

Breaking free from the past

This inner reality influences and decides in an essential way how people act in conflicts or when they experience stress. Already at a very young age, we developed and internalized our own strategies in order to successfully cope with different social situations. We knew what to do to get our parents’ attention, how to succeed in fights with our siblings, how to process pressure or how to react to success and failure. But, and here is the catch that manager Freud would point out to us in a friendly – but firm – way, these strategies which were efficient when we were children, are mostly an ineffective way to succeed in the modern professional world. We are therefore often caught in the middle of a conflict raging between our inner child-reality and our demanding outer reality. Managing these conflicts requires attention and strength – energy we are missing to be successful in the real world. This phenomenon can regularly be observed in a business environment – only executives who constantly question and develop their personal behavioral strategies, who do not stay trapped in the thinking patterns of their past – have the strength, the focus and the energy to reach peak performance as true leaders.

Exceptional accomplishments through inner dialogue

Perhaps, you would ask your colleague Freud, how you personally can avoid these conflicts (which, in most cases, are probably not obvious to you). The answer would presumably be that you should do a review, an inventory if you will, of your inner realities. This way of personal development and maturing is based on making the inner reality, which was shaped during your childhood, visible to you. As a consequence, you can re- organize and re-arrange said reality. The most important skill that you need for this demanding task is an honest dialogue with your inner reality and the factors which have shaped you in the past. As a manager, you will immediately profit from this critical inner dialogue, because your decisions and actions will become more transparent and more honest. In a very powerful way, you will consciously set the pace and direction of your thinking, your behavior and your emotions – and therefore the pace and direction of your company.

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