It’s Halloween… Beware that which lurks in the Shadows
It is yet another dark and rainy day in Portland - perfect weather for ghouls, ghosts, goblins, and other creatures of the night.
It’s also a time to play dress-up, wear your alter ego or be someone or something you’re not. Years ago, a mild mannered, mouse of a woman came to a party dressed as an “ass” (not the kind with four legs and long ears). Throughout the evening, she acted like a total “ass”, much to the surprise and bewilderment of her friends.
While Halloween is a time for us to play out our fantasies, the rest of the year these other parts of ourselves are relegated to the unconscious, or what Carl Jung referred to as the shadow. Jung saw the shadow as a metaphorical means of explaining the important role the unconscious plays in psychopathology, and in a larger sense, “evil.”
The Organizational Shadow
Jung believed that our actions are often controlled by our unconscious minds. Imagine all those times you did the exact opposite of what you knew was right or best, said things you regretted, or didn’t say things you wish you had. If Jung were alive today, he might also refer to the shadow as “the elephant in the room.”
To find and name the elephant in the room and solve your biggest issues, you’ll need to look in the shadows – the unconscious thoughts, emotions, resentments, beliefs, and feelings. The elephant is almost always found in the unspoken, through innuendo, through arguments, through disagreement, through apathy, and even procrastination.
It’s those creepy things nobody wants to talk about, but absolutely exist. And, more importantly, these unconscious, unspoken gremlins are behind resentment, employee dissatisfaction, in-fighting, and many disruptive or destructive behaviors.
Shining light on the shadow: Solving Issues
It’s one of those “easy” things that is exceptionally difficult. While I’m not proposing that you hire a shrink for your organization, I do suggest that you take the plunge into the unconscious behaviors of your executive team to get a bead on how these behaviors are impacting your organization. [Please don’t practice on your employees]
It's simply a matter of asking questions and doing a bit of probing during the Issue Solving Track of your weekly leadership (Level 10™) meeting.
- Why have you put that off for so long? What’s really going on?
- I get that you don’t agree. Can you explain what’s behind your disagreement?
- OK. We’re clearly arguing about this. Rather than agree to disagree, can we get to the bottom of why everyone feels so strongly about his or her opinion?
Don’t settle for what’s on the surface of your issues and problems. Turn your light on the shadows. Get those demons out of the closet because they’d much rather get treats than keep playing tricks on you.