On episode 292 of The Nurse Keith Show career and healthcare podcast, Keith discusses how organizations can have an often unrecognized shadow aspect that runs counter to organizational values and undermines a sense of collective mission and vision. Can the shadow be overcome? Let’s find out.
In Jungian psychology, the shadow may be characterized as an unconscious aspect of the personality that the conscious ego doesn’t recognize. Thus, shadow is the unknown side of our personalities that remains unacknowledged.
Jung wrote, “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”
He also said, “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
On the website Culture-Builder.com, author Matt Auron writes:/
“…..Something generally happens as companies grow. For start-ups, the change usually comes after the business model has been proven or their B round has funded. At this stage the executive team meets and discusses how to implement processes for sustained growth. This involves rapid hiring and expansion with individuals who mainly come from larger organizations. It’s a common experience in the growth stage of a company that most of us have seen. Less conscious decision-making results in unintended consequences. Leaders make decisions that are sometimes in direct opposition to the espoused values of the culture. People stop walking their talk. This, it seems, is the emergence of a collective and unconscious process called shadow.”
Torben Rick, a German organizational consultant, states that organizations are in truth shadows of their leaders. He theorizes that when a company’s leaders don’t walk the talk they demand of their employees, a lack of integrity at the organizational level is exposed. He provides some examples:
- Increased teamwork and cross-organizational collaboration is preached, yet the senior team does not collaborate across divisional lines
- The organization is seen cutting back on expenses, yet the senior team doesn’t change any of its special perks
- People are asked to be accountable for results, while the senior team members continue to subtly blame one another for lack of results.
Tune into the episode for some ideas for exposing the organizational shadow and potentially turning things around.
And does your organization have a shadow aspect that you’ve recognized? Do you want to talk with Nurse Keith about it? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to tell your story.
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