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 keith@nursekeith.com to tell your story.

This episode is brought to you by EHR Go. Go is a simulated Electronic Health Record with a catalog of realistic and diverse patient care scenarios included.

Go helps educators teach a human-centered approach to technology in healthcare. Find out more at HealthPodcastNetwork.com/gokeith.


The Nurse Keith Show is a proud member of The Health Podcast Network, one of the largest and fastest-growing collections of authoritative, high-quality podcasts taking on the tough topics in health and care with empathy, expertise, and a commitment to excellence.

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Nurse KeithIn case you didn’t already know, Nurse Keith is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, keynote and motivational speaker, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. From 2012 until its sunset in 2017, Keith co-hosted RNFMRadio, a groundbreaking nursing podcast. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—as well as at NurseKeith.com.
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