BRINGING FREUD BACK INTO THE WORKPLACE
The pendulum, according to Freudian psychologist Shelley Reciniello, has swung too far. So much emphasis is based on behavioral psychology – solving problems by changing behavior – that we have forgotten the impact that our subconscious can have on the world of work. In The Conscious Leader, Reciniello describes in detail that impact – and how leaders can overcome the damage that the subconscious can sometimes wreak when we least expect it.
Sabotage from the Subconscious
Why do the best-laid plans sometimes go unexpectedly wrong? Reciniello describes an investment bank that convinced a competitors’ leading trader to join its ranks. Unfortunately, the former ace was not just a failure at bringing in new business, but also proved to be a divisive influence.
What happened? For the head of the sales and trading division in the first example, she writes, “his unacknowledged fantasy was to relive his own younger, glory days through the ace.” Not satisfied with the caution and judgment of his team, he brings in a narcissistic and reckless individual who creates havoc instead of success.
To combat the insidious destruction of hidden feelings and motivations, Reciniello identifies in The Conscious Leader nine psychological phenomena, presented as psychological principles, that, like termites in the foundation of a home, can quietly undermine the best intentioned people, projects and actions and send everything suddenly crashing to the ground.
The first principle is that, Reciniello writes, “human beings are not rational, and every day their illogical unconscious minds are walking into offices with hidden agendas.” People have hidden agendas and secret motivations. This is the first and overarching phenomenon in the workplace: the subconscious exists and will create problems. The antidote to the negative impact of the “unconscious life of your company,” in Reciniello’s terms, is to “make the unconscious conscious, and build a culture of conscious awareness” by looking behind the curtain (what you see is not what you get); listening deeply; becoming comfortable with not knowing; asking “why” even if it makes you feel vulnerable; and letting other people ask “why” without retribution.
After looking at the organization as a whole, Reciniello then focuses on the leader. Her second psychological principle is, “Self-delusion is the single biggest trap for a leader.” While leaders may be willing to believe that others in the organization are probably dealing with psychological issues that are impeding their success, Reciniello has found that these same leaders are blind to their own Achilles heels.
Another important principle is summarized as, “Everyone has preconceived notions of others, and these are largely unconscious.” Be aware of prejudices – and not only your own but also, as Reciniello demonstrates through stunning stories of prejudice and sabotage, the people in your organization charged with promoting diversity. A woman tasked with increasing the presence of women in a company’s executive ranks had actually, she writes, “made a career of being ‘the only woman’ and wanted to keep it that way.” While the other women in her company soon realized that she would do everything to stop their careers, the executives, all men, had no inkling of what was going on.
Among the other nine principles explored in this book are principles related to group thinking and gang rule; the family baggage that is brought to the workplace; the importance of dealing with conflict, anger and power; the recognition of defense mechanisms, the psychological impact of change; and the hard work and unrelenting focus needed to prevent bad habits from taking over again.
Don’t Forget Freud
Reciniello does not discount the contributions of behavioral psychology. Nor does she expect leaders to become psychoanalysts. “I am not asking you to psychoanalyze your employees,” she writes in a chapter on defense mechanisms. “You shouldn’t. But hopefully, you will begin to recognize defense mechanisms and target issues in yourself and in others, and how they may interact.” The greatest contribution of The Conscious Leader is this call to awareness, to become emotionally intelligent but on two the subconscious.
Jeff Shore thinks we’re addicted to comfort. When it comes to selling, we avoid the uncomfortableness of the situation and this leads to less sales. Jeff’s answer – be bold!
“My goal is to help you develop a skill of boldness, knowing that boldness takes us to places that an addiction to comfort forbids us to travel. The challenge is yours if you are up to it, but in won’t be easy. Get it right, and it will change your world and the world of those around you. Be bold . . . and we’ll journey together to the height of your potential.” Jeff Shore
So how what does Jeff provide that can take you from comfort to boldness? Here is what he promises in his book Be Bold and Win the Sale:
•How to figure out exactly what inhibits you
•Why you make certain decisions in moments of discomfort
•How to train your brain to prepare for uncomfortable moments
•How your customer’s own discomforts affect his or her purchase decisions
If you would like to learn how to be bold in sales and in other areas of your life, join us on September 16th for our webinar by the same name, Be Bold and Win the Sale. Jeff will take you through the steps from comfort to boldness, including self-assessment tools, hands-on exercises, and case studies showing his methods in action.
OWN YOUR FUTURE
Don’t Have a Career Plan!
In the past, long-standing, respected, industry-leading companies might disappear due to competition from nimble upstarts; today, as author Paul Brown describes in the early pages of Own Your Future, it is entire industries that keep unexpectedly and jarringly disappearing: “Been to a music store lately? Drop off any photos to be processed? Used a pay phone? … Used a travel agent to book a routine vacation? Probably not.”
What does this mean for building careers? It means, according to Brown, that career plans are often useless. If you were an associate marketing manager for TomTom and had a plan to work up to regional manager and, some day, director of marketing, those plans ended when the unthinkable happened to the stand-alone GPS market: car manufacturers started including them in their cars. The same holds true for the ambitious low-level manager at Blockbuster.
The bottom line, according to Brown, is simple: don’t have a career plan! Brown has a better idea for dealing with the uncertainty of today’s world: a methodology known as ALBR.
What Serial Entrepreneurs Do
Nobody knows more about uncertainty, writes Brown, than serial entrepreneurs. Launching a company is always an exercise in terrifying uncertainty: Will my products or services attract customers? Will they be willing to pay the price that I need them to pay? Serial entrepreneurs – those who are always looking for the next business to start -thrive on such uncertainty. And for that reason, he writes, thinking like a serial entrepreneur is the best way to succeed in an uncertain economy.
Writing with Charles Kiefer and Leonard Schlesinger, his collaborators on his previous book Just Start, Brown describes in Own Your Future the path that serial entrepreneurs take as they launch their latest business.
- Serial entrepreneurs set out to do what they want to do. Passion is a word that is sometimes overused. Indeed, not every company launched by a serial entrepreneur was based on a passion. But at the very least, there was desire: serial entrepreneurs start companies doing something they want to do.
- Serial entrepreneurs act. Serial entrepreneurs don’t spend decades pondering an idea. No company was thought into being. But when they do act, they take a small step toward their goal. They don’t overcommit. They don’t risk everything. And they don’t become paralyzed by thoughts of “what if ” or “what might happen.”
- Serial entrepreneurs learn. After taking the small step, they stop and see what they have learned from that small step. Is the market response suggesting a different course? Do they still have the desire to move forward, or do they think they would like to do something else?
- Serial entrepreneurs build on what they’ve learned. After taking a small step and pausing and reflecting on that small step, they use the lessons of the first step to develop the next step.
- With the next step, they start the process all over again. Brown summarizes the process as Act, Learn, Build, Repeat – or ALBR. According to Brown, ALBR is the methodology that serial entrepreneurs use to deal with the endless uncertainty of launching new companies, the methodology that in Just Start helped organizations deal with uncertainty and, in Own Your Future, the methodology that will help individuals build successful careers no matter what their job.
The power of ALBR is that it turns career planning on its head. Instead of imagining the perfect job of the future and then figuring out how to get there, through ALBR you slowly create your dream job. This is a vital difference for the simple fact that the perfect job of the future on which you have set your sights may suddenly disappear from the horizon.
Own Your Future is a career and success book that, unlike many others in its category, is adapted to today’s realities. Brown and his coauthors are not afraid to dispute some of the most basic advice often seen in other books. (e.g., the oft-repeated maxim that if you do what you love, the money will follow is false; the money may not follow). From overcoming obstacles and choosing between love and money to how to act entrepreneurially without starting a company, Own Your Future is packed with advice and keen insight for those looking for their next job… which should be everybody.
“Flexing” is the art of switching leadership styles to more effectively work with people who are different from you. Creating flex in a company’s management style will impact all aspects of developing the talent you have, attracting future talent and building relationships with customers in this competitive marketplace.
Jane Hyun and Audrey Lee are renowned executive coaches and global leadership strategists, and they have the experience and expertise to help you create a flexible management team. We have invited them to join us for our webinar The New Playbook for Managing Across Differences where they will explain how to:
- Understand the Power Gap, the social distance between you and those in the workplace of different cultures, ages, and gender.
- Flex your management style by stretching how you work and communicate with others.
- Bridge the gap with more effective communication and practical feedback tools.
- Multiply the effect, by teaching these skills to others and closing the power gap with clients, customers, and partners to create innovative solutions.
Join us on September 11th to hear more about “flexing” and to post your questions on this important issue.