Bernard Bass (2008), in his Handbook of Leadership, suggests that leadership values depend on occupational and societal influences and that the differences in values “range from education to nationality” (p. 197). There is little suggestion in the text, though, that personal and family history is important in the formulation or the transformation of leadership values. This writing will focus on how leadership can be a set-up for superficial values formation, and identifies some possible psychodynamic interventions toward authentic leadership.
As leaders in the world of organizational and leadership development, it may be time to stop avoiding the bleeding elephant in the corporate living room. Unconscious behavior, immaturity, and hyper-intellectualization must be confronted in organizational settings in order to bring change. Though the literature on Emotional Intelligence is limited on why intellectual focus has become such a highly prized value, the need for emotional skills is clearly evident. Bradberry and Greaves (2003) write that Emotional Intelligence is made up of skills, “…that cover how one recognizes and understands emotions, manages his or her behavior, and manages relationships. [These] skills are important because together they capture everything an individual does that is not a function of how smart he or she is” (as quoted in Blattner, 2007, p. 210). The extraordinary resistance to feelings awareness and expression in upper level leadership and management is a significant problem and must be addressed with intention, compassion, and skill.
If educated and highly trained psychologists, facilitators, and organizational development professionals don’t address this problem, who will?
There is a bumper sticker that reads, “Hate is not a family value.” Well, hate is in fact a family value just as hate was a leadership value for Adolf Hitler; manipulation was a leadership value for Bernie Madoff, and intellectualization and avoidance of emotional truth is a leadership value for a majority of leaders at all levels. It is an epidemic and an intervention is called for. Of course, when problems become obvious, such as the banking and corporate debacle, a flurry of retribution and punitive actions are taken. But, just as spanking children (at the family level) and the death penalty (at the societal level) have proven ineffective reactive deterrents, leaders are in need of options for transformation rather than being written off as evildoers.