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Seeing the Shadow—The Importance of Depth Psychology in Leadership: An Interview with David A.
Here Dave shares how depth psychology plays a role in leadership, a critical aspect inside and outside the corporate world today.
Hillman in this same polemic further notes that personal growth often involves “loss”; the loss of inflations, the loss of illusions. We’ve seen enough of the damage done by leaders who have no idea what inner demons they are projecting onto the social landscape. BB: First, I love that you are connecting leadership to the very significant (and growing) cultural and ecological issues going on our planet. Meanwhile, I agree with you and James Hillman that there is an aspect of leadership that cannot be dismissed or denied: active involvement with the world. Many of us would consider the types of places Jung refers to as places to avoid, not wanting to expose ourselves to the dirtier, darker, or volatile aspects of humanity. Take for instance, the values of an enterprise so often espoused by leaders, HR professionals, and consultants. To be clear, I am not necessarily speaking against these latter values, but rather to the “gap” between the espoused values and those that are in action on an everyday basis. A critical value that Depth Psychology can bring into the corporate world is to generate a broad and deep awareness among its leaders the true nature of the shadow.
BB: You’ve just offered a compelling description of the status quo, not only in organizations but for individuals as well. DAL: Yes, one example I observed first hand illustrates the real consequences associated with an ignorance of the shadow, and the exponential effects of this ignorance when it takes place in leaders vested with significant institutional power to determine the fate of companies that provide meaningful employment and direct significant natural and economics resources. The private equity buyer was expert in financial engineering and understood precisely what was needed in those terms. At the time of the acquisition, the sub-sector market was beginning to show early signs of a precipitous decline. This example is illustrative because it is not at all unusual in the annals of corporate leadership.
The official story of the demise was that the company was caught up (like so many others) in the dramatic deterioration of the their sub-sector. BB: Unfortunately, those three factors, greed, hubris, and denial, seem to be part of a recognizable pattern in many organizations that collapse. DAL: When it comes to archetypal realities in a business context, I would define it as those background patterns of perception and images on the level of the psyche and cultural values and reflexive behaviors on the level of the organization. A good example of this is the change forced upon the Utility industry in the face of deregulation; or the change forced upon military contractors in the face of significant government budget cuts. A well-known example of an archetypal reality is “the hero’s journey.” Mythologist Joseph Campbell in his landmark study, “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” identified the archetypal hero’s journey as circular process that moves one to go forth from a settled existence, journey into unexplored territory in order to win new powers that can be brought back for the benefit of the community (p.
Now the change agenda is public and the engagement with the significant forces of status quo are in earnest. Before the sustained benefits of a successful transformation can be realized the corporation must pass through the “supreme ordeal” (p. It is easy to point a finger at business leadership for being too wedded to their collective views of change based on standard organizational psychology, change management and overarching pressures to produce financial results while the hoped-for transformation is under way.
Dave’s career has been distinguished by significant pioneering in the areas of organizational and cultural transformation, breakthrough performance, leadership development and coaching, public-private partnering, and multi-company alliances. Previous to founding Laveman & Associates, Dave served as officer, senior executive, or partner at CSC Index, Accenture, and The Concours Group. Dave is an accomplished chess player whose competitive success has appeared in The New York Times. Bonnie Bright is the principle and and founder of Depth Insights™, Depth Psychology Alliance™, and Depth Psychology List™. Depth Insights™ provides media, content, and education for the greater depth psychology community, including written and audio interviews and the semi-annual peer reviewed publication, Depth Insights scholarly eZine. Depth Psychology List™ is a premier destination to find or list depth psychology oriented therapists and practitioners by location or type of services offered.
Bonnie Bright is the principle and founder of Depth Insights which offers a semi-annual scholarly eZine, radio podcasts, and educational webinars.
Few doubt that leaders play a role, either as founders or promoters of values in organizations.
JavaScript is currently disabled, this site works much better if you enable JavaScript in your browser. Jeff Weiner: Leaving the pitcher in the gameA is less about the pitcher missing the strike zone. APBy the time Pedro Martinez finally handed the ball back to manager Grady Little in the 2003 ALCS, it was too late.And so when you have to ask yourself whether or not someonea€™s doing the job the way you hope theya€™re going to do the job, you already know the answer. So the night before I started, I was interim president with all the responsibilities of a CEO.A The night before I started, I called him and asked, a€?How is this going to work in terms of decisions? HB: One of the issues in the economy right now is wages are at an all-time low, while CEOs, senior managers and shareholders are making out like bandits.
HB:A And the average CEO pay now at Fortune 500 Companies has gone from 30 times the average employee to 350 times.
Enough with your compassionate management crap, deliver more to me, on the bottom line, because I'm going to get fired if you don't.
When you went public, the stock soared and everything was great.A [It's come back up, but] earlier this year, the stock dropped significantly. We're going to play up to who we aspire to be and not play down to the lowest common denominator out of fear of what might happen. HB:A You are 100 percent right, and yet Wall Street pressure ruins great companies by forcing people like you to focus on six months and this quarter instead or three-, five-, seven-year horizons where you can actually create long-term value. If you repeat that across too many people, who are all bringing their own backgrounds and their own cultural legacies,A they're going to start to manifest the way they believe things should be.
HB: You've stressed the importance of identifying great people outside the company and persuading them to join your team.
And then there's time and it's like, "You gotta make a decision." And once you get into that time, and there's still the equivocation, it probably makes sense to move on, for both people. Laveman, who brings depth psychology insights into the business world to help executives and organizations to raise the bar on performance and deliver breakthrough business results.
It begins by looking squarely at the conditions we live in as part of a global economy and international community.
However, often those who are widely known as “leaders” are vested with vast institutional powers, which encourages all sorts of narcissistic display. Given the explosion of technological innovation and its inexpensive and uncontrolled dissemination, the stakes in the second decade of the 21st century couldn’t be higher. Unfortunately many of these practitioners know little about the dynamics of the unconscious, how to work with shadow projections on an individual and organizational level and how to recognize archetypal patterns.
How can anyone calling themselves a leader rely on learning without experience in order to make difficult decisions or offer solutions and strategies to solve critical issues?
First before we dive into examples, it’s worth keeping in mind that as we move into concrete, fact-based situations what remains implicit in the background are our assumptions and already-provided classifications. In common language, the “dark side” and “blindspots” to which we are all prone, is often thought of as being synonymous with the shadow in common language. A private equity firm had just paid billions of dollars to acquire a very profitable sub-division of a major Fortune 100 Global Company.
The CEO was an expert in cost-take-out and in communicating effectively with his executive team and the company at large. A senior long-term executive, highly knowledgeable about the sector and widely respected within the company (pre-acquisition), saw the trends developing a year before they became widely apparent.
The business situation was admittedly ambiguous at the time the executive in question was formulating his point of view.
It is indicative of the culture we live in in so many ways, one in which values capitalism, growth, monetary gain, and puts profit above people so often—and it has to in order to maintain the pattern of corporate growth that has been so established for decades, if not centuries.
In short, the reality of the tangible, empirically-observable outer world takes clear precedence over the cloud-like realities of the psyche. How do you define that, and how would you say deeply embedded archetypal patterns play a role in the process of developing more effective organizational design and interventions?
Because they exert influence from the background they are often unconscious, and operate independent of the ego. However I think it more productive to challenge those who are committed to the perspectives of Depth Psychology to take it out of the highly ritualized and controlled academic and psychotherapeutic environments, and test its merits to create meaningful change with the business institutions that for better or worse dictate the pace and direction of today’s world.
Laveman works with clients to raise the bar on performance and deliver breakthrough business results. He has presented innovative thinking on leadership, transformational change and breakthrough management at The Wharton School, The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, The Society of Information Management, The GMAC Annual Senior Management Meeting, and The Executive Concours. The Alliance is a hub for finding depth psych-related events, blogs, videos, articles and for discussion, learning and connecting with likeminded others.

So the more important question is not “Whose values?” but “What values?” Just because a leader has values doesn’t mean that they are good ones. According to one rating service, it's Jeff Weiner, CEO of social networking giant LinkedIn. One of the most popular was your lesson that the pitcher never wants to come out of the game. And ita€™s been my experience that at that moment you actually put them on the clock.A You do it in the most compassionate and most constructive way you know how.
IfA you were to see my calendar printed out you would see these gray blocks, and ita€™s not a mistake. And Reid is an extremely bright guy a€” very, very thoughtful.A I dona€™t think he likes to make the same mistake twice.
TheA more people you're responsible for, the more your words and the way you communicate those words and your body language and essentially everything you do is taken into consideration by the team. You got a very nice raise last year a€” first of all, if anybody deserves it, you deserve it. I think oftentimes when determining compensations for people, I think you have to draw upon your own experience, I think you have to draw upon your gut, your instincts, and what feels right and what feels wrong. For starters, before going public, I was asked by one of our board members what kind of public company we wanted to be. And I came back and the next meeting I said, "We're going to be the exact same company as a public company as we were as a private company." Same vision, same mission, same strategy, same long-term focus, same culture, same values a€” all of which had been codified. Amazon has done it a€” their stock went from 150 to 3 and then back up to 1,000 or whatever. And then once that's set and it's codified, you need to be consistent and be true to it, with everything that you do. One of those very special moments, those inflection points a€”A this was way back, and someone said: "Look at this candidate on paper, on their LinkedIn profile, they're a great candidate and they have all the skills. Because ultimately you're looking for fit, and oftentimes egos get involved and it becomes all about the transaction. So just because you come that one time and you have a great idea and you get shot down, and I say, "Trust me the next one will work out your way." That's not how it works. These conditions – broadly characterized by ecological fragility, interconnectivity, democratization of information and overall accelerated “change”—are inescapable. It is time for those who have spent decades investigating the nature of the psyche to be far more actively engaged with the “leaders” of all institutions, but especially those of business and government. As these increase as they are likely to do, we are going to have such a tremendous need for far greater leadership than ever before. It’s so important not to sweep the shadow side of our culture and our humanity under the rug for we are likely to sweep our own shadow right under their with it. In those examples, what could those individuals have done differently, or what are some ways leaders might begin to learn to recognize the unconscious shadow? For instance, most corporate senior leaders and consultants believe they know what is good and what is not. However as noble as these espoused values are, they are often at odds with the values in action—in other words, the values that the corporation lives every day.
The fundamental nature of the “shadow” that has direct relevance to corporate leaders is this: the shadow does not reveal itself as such, but rather, is often externalized on to a troubling aspect of the environment “out there” and thus it tends to be either denied all together or addressed with simply rational “problem solving” behavior. Executives, coaches and those working in organizations often get training on “problem solving”—and of course step one is to identify the problem. They hired a highly seasoned senior executive to be the CEO of the newly acquired sub-division. Neither of these key power players were expert in the sub-sector in which they were now invested. He tried to warn the CEO of an impending disaster and presented a business plan to mitigate the effects of the anticipated full-blown market meltdown.
One could martial arguments for the market to resume its frothy days and that was, by far, the preferred future that the owners, the CEO, and the majority of the leadership wanted to see happen. I can imagine it must be really hard for an individual who takes on a new leadership role with lots of good intentions and promises to actually adhere to his or her ideas and principles without caving to those three things. They tap into large stores of energy, which can be expressed positively (as in the collective effort to put a man on the moon) or negatively (as in the collapse of checks and balances that aggravated the 2008 financial meltdown). Thus a first step is to develop a ‘case for change’, supported by facts and a tight logic thread about why change is necessary. This engagement will force depth psychology to endure tensions previously avoided and engage businesses to reevaluate the role of the soul and psyche in the renewal of our world. He synthesizes practical understanding of business realities with in-depth insight into human and team behavior, and partners with companies and executives to build capabilities, enhance leadership skills, and generate transformational change. Dave’s thinking on culture, strategy, and paradigms have been cited by Forbes and Harvard Business Review.
Furthermore, the question is not so much about what a leader values, but what a leader actually does to demonstrate his or her values. In 5 years of running the company, Jeff has inspired his team, the industry, and Wall Street, and he has helped build LinkedIn into a $25 billion powerhouse.
Ita€™s exhausting, because you need to understand what the persona€™s about, their strengths and weaknesses, their hopes, dreams, and fears.
And again, youa€™re a smaller startup, ita€™s all about building, ita€™s all about getting it done. Way above all these other guys we read about all day long at all these other companies that have even more, sometimes, visibility than you do. And before I got to LinkedIn, Reid had been the founder and the CEO, and then hired the professional CEO. After I started, for the first 8-10 weeks that I was at LinkedIn, he was out of the office for 6-8 weeks; he had scheduled travel. There's internal leveling, internal comps, external comps, there's a lot of market data on this. Pension funds and everyone else come at you, the CEO of a company, saying, "You work for us, we want X more ROI, whatever it happens to be. If they're like, "Yes, you know I'm kind of interested, you know, maybe, throw a few more dollars at me, maybe another title" a€” when does it cross over to, "You know what, I just laid it out there for this person, and they're just not interested. It becomes all about the close, as opposed to having the truly honest discussion about whether or not there's a fit. How do you get the company culture to the point where employees are totally comfortable going to the mat for an idea. Because if that only happens once, and people have to make a snap judgment, it's going to be, "Well what's that all about?" But the second time, the third time, the fourth time, the fifth time, they're right a few times, someone else is right a few times, and as we go, we see what worked and didn't work and we're course correcting and we're doing post-mortems and we're figuring what went wrong. They will evaluate it based on the next discussion, and the next discussion, and the next discussion, and the next discussion. From Hillman’s view psychotherapy as it is currently practiced, tends to “internalize emotions.” He then aptly points out that the word emotion comes from the Latin ex movere which means “to move out” and that “emotions connect to the world” (p.
This engagement needs to happen “on the court” where the game of leadership whicis played out in everyday decisions, relationships and initiatives. These are all useful but not sufficiently effective in creating the “transformational” change that is both promoted by their practitioners and more importantly truly needed by the institutional power centers to become centers of a renewed global culture. He would be better advised to put away his scholar’s gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart through the world. In that case the values in action are those of “efficiency,” “doing more with less,” and above all, “growth.” These are what rule the day. Because the shadow exists in the nature of the psyche and is secondarily projected to the external world, its recognition requires leaders to tolerate the psychic tension and a searching introspection. But when the actual problem is incorrectly assigned or the issues underlying the problem are not identified, how can it truly be worked with authentically and solved?
This CEO excelled in communication skills, and came from an allied industry (but a different sub-sector) after a successful career as CEO of his former company. For that, they relied on existing senior managers in the acquired company who had spent their careers working with the mechanics of their particular market sub-sector. The CEO, whose generous incentives from his patrons and persuasive optimism was not at all open to this executive’s views and would not hear out his analysis of the early warning signs already present, nor listen to a mitigation plan. As a factor of the psyche, not the circumstance, it was never collectively inquired into, though privately some executives acknowledged the role it played. What do you think about that, and how does a leader actually go about implementing his or her ideas in a depth-centered way without giving over to the status quo? The consequences here are also multiple, but suffice it to say that organizations are constantly interested in “change management.” Over the past two decades as the pace of external change has accelerated, the need to transform rather than merely “change” has given rise to a large network of “transformation” consultants, and Human Resources specialists. Without an archetypal perspective, leaders resort to making decisions through an over-emphasis on rational analysis, data gathering, and trend analysis. Then there are the objectives which the change will accomplish and why it is good for the company and its employees and finally there are elaborate plans which include the commitments to new model made by senior management, the cascading communication plans, the phased releases of manageable bites, the training of “change agents”, the mitigation strategies (to handle fallout), and the periodic course corrections to address changing circumstances.

The tests that accompany them are often interpreted in terms of self-protection and blind resistance to change.
Common are major opposition by a key power center, acquisition by a new owner who has no stake in the transformation, the old culture ignoring the change without consequences. Dave’s background and his knowledge of cutting-edge research inform his down-to-earth approach to optimizing executive performance and driving bottom-line results. This paper is about how leaders translate values into action and actions into enduring organizational values. Here is where Ia€™ve observed the gap exists between your current performance and what we need from you.
And then you have to deliver messages in such a way thata€™s tailor-made for them so they can internalize it, and most importantly a€” this is where true scale begins to happen a€” they can start coaching people on their team to do it. Your competitorsA are going to be waiting for a misstep; theya€™re waiting for you to become defocused.
And they had a lot of mutual respect for one another, but it was challenging because Reid maintained the title of President of Product, reporting to the CEO, who then reported to Reid, who was the Chairman and the Founder and the largest shareholder. And I think the best leaders maintain awareness of their environment and in real time can course correct.A It doesn't matter if they're in a one-on-one, a staff meeting, an all-hands, or speaking to thousands of people at a keynote. And I think that's one place you can start the dialogue, but exactly to your point, regardless of what that data's telling you, at some point, you have to trust your instincts, you have to trust your values, and you have to say, "I believe this is right, equitable, and fair a€” or it's not." And if not, you step up and you do something about it.
I had never been the CEO of a public company, I had never taken a company public, and I thought naively that things would just continue going the way they were going. Either we weren't ready, or I wasn't the right person to lead this company." After the meeting, our CFO and general counsel, being excellent members of the team, pulled me aside and said, "Psst, come here for a sec. And then you repeat it, over and over and over again.A A friend of mine once paraphrased David Gergen, saying on the subject of repetition, "If you want to get your point across, especially to a broader audience, you need to repeat yourself so often, you get sick of hearing yourself say it. I think one of the ways hyper-growth companies go off the rails is that they're growing so quickly, there is so much demand for product, there are so many opportunities ahead of them, that they lower the hiring bar to put people in seats to get the work done. And we're not lamenting the mistakes, we're not lamenting the fact that we took the wrong path a€” we're learning from them. Of course, with a little thought, what is beneficial and destructive needs qualification: do we mean short or long term good? However externalization is typically the rule rather than the exception, with the result often being entrenched “us vs.
It is critical to look at the systemic nature and constantly inquire into what is invisible, hidden, unspoken, or marginalized.
His mandate by the new owners was simple: dramatically reduce costs and prepare the business to be resold in a 3-5 year timeframe for three times its original cost. The leadership team, headed by the new CEO with final decision making authority, made rational sense, but here is where the dynamics of the shadow—unrecognized as such—began to show itself. The eventual outcome was unfortunate, especially for the 2000+ employees who found employment there. However transformation programs rarely achieve a true organizational metamorphosis but rather often devolve into a sub-optimized, energy depleting exercise. There is nothing wrong with any of this—its just totally insufficient to address the escalating rate of change, the disruption caused by continual new technologies and the complexity of a global economy.
The archetypal pattern then requires the hero to cross over the threshold of the known world where one encounters “the shadow presence which guards the passage” (p. The missing realization that archetypal powers are at work as a company struggles to bring into being a new order of reality, leave those who are advocates of the transformation at a severe disadvantage.
The compromise made at this point often dooms the possibility of authentic transformative change and settles for half measures.
I first examine how we have come to think about the values of business leaders and success. Thinking proactively and thinking strategically and starting to revise or refine your vision, your mission, your strategic objectives, that takes a lot of time.
IfA we are successful in building what we want to build, the value and ultimately the price will take care of itself.
So it starts with hiring, and then it's onboarding a€” it's reinforcing that once they are hired, just because they signed on, it doesn't mean you're done. There's a time where you're bringing them along and you recognize that they're happy where they are, and you're bringing them up to speed on why the opportunity makes so much sense. In terms of Depth Psychology, I’m reminded of the rather provocative title of archetypal psychologist James Hillman’s (1992) dialogue with Michael Ventura, We’ve Had 100 Years Of Therapy And The World Has Gotten Worse. It is a polemic against the insular nature of psychotherapy and the fact that “personal growth” doesn’t necessarily lead one into active involvement with the world.
Following this thread of reasoning, my assertion is rather basic: by applying the insights gained from a hundred years of exploring the unconscious, to the world populated by institutional leaders, we are ensuring that those with the most power to affect the things that affect our lives—our environment, our economy, our safety—are alert to the powerful forces that exist in the psyche, especially the mostly unconscious complexes, and skillful in converting insight into engagement. Do we mean that which is strictly beneficial to the commercial interests of the business, or do we mean what is beneficial to the larger ecosystem upon which is our common ground? This is where the real issues lie, and leaders that have the capacity to recognize it truly have the opportunity to lead, and those who fail to look can quickly move (and move the organization) into dangerous territory, wouldn’t you say?
To make this CEO’s life easier, he was allowed to move the corporate office 3,000 miles away to be closer to his home, and of course was given major financial incentives if the owners met their financial goals.
The market deteriorated just as the executive who was completely rebuked and disregarded anticipated, and the company lost a critical 18 months to sell assets when there were still many buyers interested in their acquisition. The owners, the CEO and the leadership team were already wealthy by any measure of comparison. A possible reason for this is lack of understanding of archetypal realities and how this has a significant impact on the organizational world. As a differentiated discipline that has been around for at least two decades, it has developed a set of tools and approaches to help companies change – that is move from business model A to model B. The result is that much corporate energy, human toil and financial expense go to programs that do produce change, but often yield only a fraction of what’s needed. Without an archetypal perspective they are left with only their own efforts and superficially literal interpretations of challenge they face. In corporate terms, leadership points to real but fairly incremental changes to justify a premature declaration of victory and most importantly to move on to the next “urgent” issue of the day. They can course correct so they can ensure that what they're saying is resonating and that it's bringing people together.
You realize some things have to change." I said, "What do you mean?" They said, "Well, one of our values is being open, honest, and constructive a€” and at the all-hands, you're basically transparent with everything (we do an all-hands every other week). That's when all the work begins.A And every time you [reinforce your culture and values this way] you get stronger, and that's what you see with Amazon, and that's what you see with Netflix.
But we're doing my idea." And then they have to say, "Yes, sir!" How do you let people invest emotionally in their own ideas that much and then you do something else and they have to follow you? The company ultimately refused an offer from a major Fortune 50 company to double their acquisition price, and eventually had to seek bankruptcy protection. Second, hubris: the owners and the CEO’s previous success caused them to overestimate their powers to predict the future.
This leaves the organization exhausted where whatever is left over of discretionary effort is focused on short-term survival. In corporate terms this means creating the necessary resources in the form of executive sponsorship, budget, and a team of change agents that will guide the change process.
This undermines their confidence and leaves them ill prepared for the next predictable phase of the journey to authentic transformative change. The result after too numerous outcomes like this, is that employees have become highly skeptical of new change initiatives, take on a ‘wait and see’ attitude which inadvertently becomes ensures that there was never a real desire for transformation in the first place.
Then I argue that the language of having values is often inadequate for understanding individual and organizational ethics. If you could only build one $1 billion business, what would it be?"A Came back to the office, and I ended up on the whiteboard, and I drew a target. What I want to remain present as I cite examples are the relative, context bound nature of any given situation. Most employees lost their jobs, and more, senior managers who were given opportunities to be co-investors with the new owners lost all of their investment. Finally, denial: They failed to make the necessary distinctions between success through financial engineering and knowledge of the larger sector market vs. The archetypal underpinnings that are orchestrating the forms, their narratives, and accompanying interventions are neither acknowledged nor addressed. And above the target I drew our core value proposition, which was connecting talent and opportunity at massive scale. Roy Vagelos of Merck & Company to illustrate the how the values of founders and current leaders shape the values of their own organizations, and can shape the values of the industries in which they operate.

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