One Day the Years of Struggle Will Strike You as the Most Beautiful
- Pages: 12
- Word count: 2756
- Category: Optimism
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At the very core of leadership is the ability to use motivational patterns to inspire others; to encourage individuals and teams to voluntarily do things that they would not otherwise do. Sometimes, even the most well-laid plans and strategies fail miserably and at other times, leadership comes from the most unexpected places and situations. Professional and personal dynamics can be viewed beyond a defined rationale and an accepted structure. Human psyche, human personality, and human psychology offer an alternative lens to view leadership. Both leaders and followers are complex and contradicting beings who delicately balance high-flying optimism with grimaced pessimism. While short-sightedness can cloud their vision, a positive outlook enhances their courage. Some situations may translate into suspicion and some more breed open-handed trust. An informed approach provides a supportive framework to appreciate leader’s own behavior as well as the behavior of others in order to best influence and leverage the potential of their followers.
A Lead-in on Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud was born in Austria, qualified as a doctor from University of Vienna, and went on to become a neurologist. Freud devoted his life and energy to studying human nature and concluded that humans are egocentric beings. Freud’s theories of human nature are ironical when considered as discrete concepts and tend to leave the leader bemused and drifting. Yet, when his theories are viewed from a vantage point, they have a deep-rooted impact on leader-follower behavior, motivation, and communal interactions. Freud’s constructs of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through a dialogue between the patient and the psychoanalyst, earned him an epithet “father of psychoanalysis”. (Alexandra Forsythe, 2013)
Freudian’s psychoanalysis is the cornerstone of Psychodynamic Approach to Leadership. Freud proposed a theory of personality and professed that human psyche determines the basic structure of personality. The psychodynamic approach efforts to raise the cognizance of leaders and followers to their own personality types and the implications of those types on work and relationships (Abolrous, 2010). This approach stresses on the importance of being aware of and understanding the differences between various people who work together as a team. Such awareness helps a great deal in identifying first irritants and conflicts and develop a sense of tolerance for one another (Abolrous, 2010).
The psychodynamic approach to leadership emphasizes that leaders must gain an insight into their own personality and characteristics. They must gain an understanding of their subordinates’ responses, depending on their own dispositions. Furthermore, leaders must inspire their subordinates to obtain an insight into their own personalities to gain an understanding of their responses to their leaders’ personality and their relative personality and traits. This approach does not make any inferences about good traits or best styles and does not attempt to match a style to followers. However, some personality types are more suitable to certain conditions, situations, or positions. It simply analyzes human personality, relative to leadership levels and types (Gabriel, 2013).
Leadership Skills, Behaviour, and Traits
This paper presents Freud; a consummate leader who enjoyed a devout set of followers. His theories have far outlived him. The paper also critically inspects some of Freud’s leadership skills; convergent thinking, social judgment, and deep-rooted knowledge. Intelligence, self-confidence, and determination were his strong traits. In my opinion, Freud can be considered as a supportive servant leader with emotional intelligence.
Freud as a Successful Leader
As a creator of psychoanalysis, Freud challenged the status-quo and at the same time created a conducive climate for his followers to participate. He was a visionary leader who nurtured and chased his vision with fervor and passion. He created the change he wanted to see and motivated his followers to be a part of the change. He led by example. He collaborated and shared information with his peers without any fear of rejection. Sharing his expertise and knowledge enabled him and his peers to further advance his theories to create what we know today as psychotherapy (Blog, 2016). These traits illustrated Freud as a servant leader who not only supported his followers with knowledge they needed but also ensured that his theories of psychoanalysis were understood and disseminated in ways that would contribute to the advancement of his theories.
Freud was an emotionally intelligent leader. He could be viewed as a supportive front-runner. His problem-solving skills and his ability to experiment without fear and make mistakes, only to learn from them, prove him to be an exemplary leader in his time. Even as he practiced, he observed that physical treatments like hydrotherapy and electrotherapy were unsuccessful in treating physical ailments. While doing so, not only did he contest established modes of investigation, he also questioned the established therapeutic modalities. He never let opposition or failure impede his progress. Though his theory of psychoanalysis wasn’t well-accepted, he participated in establishing leadership within the International Psycho-Analytical Association to advance the cause (Blog, 2016); thus, reflecting Freud’s unwavering support for his followers.
After practicing psychoanalysis for several years, Freud discovered that his patients; both male and female were idolizing him, in other words, one can consider his patients to be his “followers”. Freud realized that his patients loved him and felt a relation to him as if he were someone important from their past – most always, a parent. In doing so, his patients were transferring emotions and experiences from their past into their present. Freud theorized the phenomenon to be a universal dynamic and called it “transference”. The transference phenomenon offers insight into everyday behaviors in the workplace. Freud believed that his patients expected great things of him and that belief nurtured his self-confidence and inspired him to accomplish his goals. On the same note, Freud relentlessly pursued to stimulate self-confidence in others by expecting great things of them. He supported them with the resources required to accomplish their goals, even though they did not concur with his own goals. Ultimately, Freud wanted to enable individuals to understand their own personality characteristics so that they could make informed choices (Blog, 2016), (Maccoby, 2004).
Freud had many more accolades; the most wide-ranging theory in psychology is his theory of personality. He was a passionate convergent thinker. As a practicing neurologist, Freud was captivated by the concept of unconscious. His theories about human mind were original and unique, yet, have found little acceptance in recent years. On the other hand, the core principles of Freudian’s theory of personality have been modified and interpreted in different ways by one of his followers; Carl Jung. Jungian psychology has found more acceptance today (Cherry, 2018).
Freud’s work echoes the principles of emotional intelligence. He proposed a theory of personality and professed that human psyche determines the basic structure of personality. Furthermore, the awareness of conscious, sub-conscious, and unconscious mind offers insights on handling personal and professional situations; at task, conflict, and self-exploration levels. The other end of the spectrum is the theory of personality. Freud proposed that the adult personality emerges from an amalgamation of early childhood nodal events, based on how these experiences are consciously and unconsciously processed within human developmental stages, and how these experiences shape the personality (Cherry, 2018).
The five stages of human development as hypothesized by Freud are Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latent, and Genital stages (Cherry, 2018). The successful completion of each stage leads to a healthy personality as an adult. However, if a conflict arises and remains unresolved at a certain stage, the individual might remain fixated at that corresponding point of development. Such fixation may be identified by an obsession with something related to that phase of development. For example, a person with an ‘oral fixation’ is believed to be fixated at the oral stage of development, example, negative or excessive reliance on oral habits such as smoking, biting fingernails, or eating (Cherry, 2018).
In addition, each of these stages of development and experiences are filtered through the three levels of human mind; Id, Ego, and Superego. On this three-tier system of human mind; the Id is the most primordial personality that is the source of basic urges and energy. It is related to the unconscious mind. The Ego is responsible for dealing with reality and ensures that the demands of the Id are satisfied in ways realistic, safe and social acceptable ways. Superego functions at conscious level. It holds together, the assumed morals and standards that are acquired from parents, family, and society at large. Although Freud’s theories are criticized, his work has made pioneering contributions to the complex world of human psyche. His theories have provided a deep insight into psychology and have transformed the closely held thoughts and approaches about mental health and psychological disorders (Cherry, 2018).
Some of Freud’s theories have also found a place in marketing and advertising. Motivation researchers have found refuge in Freud’s theory of psychology as they tried to understand consumers’ mind. Marketers embraced and exploited the concept of the unconscious mind, its hidden desires that shaped their behavior. Psychoanalysis provided a perfect surrogate womb for motivation research and subliminal advertising. Psychology offered a flawless means to facilitate decision-making by finding an emotional ground to match consumers with brands, thus creating brand-loyalty. This process also helped in adding a ‘personality’ to products. Procter and Gamble was a leader in adopting this strategy to their marketing repertoire; Camay became synonymous with a glamorous woman (Samuel, 2011).
Freud’s Theories and Psychodynamic Approach to Leadership
Leadership explains the way people behave in workplace. Effective leaders recognize the needs of their followers, pay careful attention to team dynamics, alleviate anxieties, stimulate optimism, direct energy, and motivate people act to achieve their goals. Psychodynamic approach to leadership lays emphasis on the dynamics of human behavior; an abstract concept difficult to comprehend; it concedes that people are unique, complex and contradictory beings. They interact and make decisions in varying patterns and have a myriad set of motivational drivers. Applying psychodynamic concepts to the diversities of workplace offers a thoughtful approach to understand the vicissitudes leadership. An admission and exploration of covert undertones affecting human behavior propels a perception of complexities inherent in professional pursuits (Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, 2014).
This approach draws an unambiguous attention to motivational forces that drive human actions by considering intrinsic emotions and relationships between individuals and in the stability, that is provided by group dynamics. Freud held a belief that neurotic symptoms or dysfunctional behavior were manifestations of a person’s inner drivers, implying that every behavior or action can be attributed to an intrinsic reason. He also believed that the repetition of certain dysfunctional patterns is due to an existence of specific motivational tinges that influence decision-making and behavior. Though Freud did not directly apply his ideas to real-world situations, his psychoanalytic paradigms were further refined by his followers and contemporaries and found a critical place in modern society (Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, 2014).
Freud’s theory of personality and psychoanalysis is the founding principle behind psychodynamic approach of leadership. The five stages of human development and the three-tier system of the human mind are central to three personality styles that Freud offered in his schema consisting of three personality types: Erotic, Obsessive, and Narcissistic. “Erich Fromm subsequently added a fourth personality type; Marketing”. Freud believed that “personality was a typical way in which human beings relate to the world. There is a core personality, inborn and instinctual, but values, attitudes, and beliefs are overlaid on that core personality” (Northouse, 2013).
People with Erotic Personality seek to love and be loved. They prefer to be liked and accepted as against being admired and respected. On a professional front, this personality type wants a team to become a close-knit family of nice people who get along. They tend to delve into personal details of their team members. However, people with erotic personality come across as needy and dependent. People with Obsessive Personality have contrasting preferences. Since they live up to standards, follow rules, and obey a strict conscience, they prefer order and stability to acceptance and liking. Their conscience guides them to do the right thing and maintain a status-quo. They search for ways to improve, acquire more knowledge, and become competent. On the flip side, they can be aggressive and domineering. They are dogmatic and do not want to be questions. A Marketing Personality is highly adaptable, conformant, and align themselves with right people and situations. They seek personal growth; both in terms of competence and emotion.
People with this personality are good facilitators with a networking ability. They appreciate collaboration to achieve team consensus. The Narcissistic Personality does not attempt to impress, but are proud of their accomplishments. Maccoby, in his further refinements, stressed that narcissistic people are not egotistical or egoistic. They indulge in self-directed humor and have a clear vision of what to do and do not consider what others say to pursue their vision (Northouse, 2013, pp. 325, 326).
Critical Arguments Explaining Freud’s Success as a Leader
Freud’s theories far outlived him and his times. He may not have applied his theories in real-world situations, yet his observations have laid a solid foundation in today’s world. In my view, Freud was a servant leader who supported his followers in more ways than one. His emotional intelligence molded him to be a visionary. Freud made great observations about the dynamics of human motivation and communal interactions. His beginnings were humble; as a neurologist he strove to alleviate mental ailments of his patients. His psychoanalytical observations have seen fruition in today’s workplace dynamics as leaders and followers understand their own-self to be better understanding others, thus avoiding conflict and achieving collective and individual goals (Gabriel, 2013).
Freud was an honest leader; he encouraged collaborative work and shared information and power. In his initial years of research, he did not find appreciation for his work. He worked towards creating a collaborative working environment by facilitating discussions with other theorists to advance to today’s modern psychotherapy. As an intelligent and supportive leader, Freud never shied away from experimenting. He was willing to make mistakes. He challenged established therapeutic modes like hydrotherapy and electrotherapy. His research on human psyche and attributing psychic disturbances to physical ailments was well-accepted. He practiced hypnosis as one of the treatment methods. However, he failed in inducing hypnosis in his own patients led him to adopt dream interpretation and free association techniques as therapeutic alternatives.
Freud possessed profound social judgment. As an emotionally intelligent leader, he created a climate that nurtured his followers. He engendered self-confidence in his followers by expecting exceptional things from them by providing resources and support system to accomplish their goals even they seemed in conflict with his own goals. As an admirable servant leader, Freud provided motivation and a nurturing environment for his followers. In his theory of transference, Freud professed that there must be a transition of power between the leader and his followers so that strategic plans can be executed in goal-oriented actions (Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, 2014).
Furthermore, Freud’s topographical model of the mind described the features of mind’s structure and function as analogous to an iceberg. I have tried to use the iceberg concept to apply the mind’s structure and function to professional situations and perspectives. In everyday work and personal situations; understanding and executing a task, dealing with a conflict, and exploring one’s own-self out of interest. Please refer to Exhibit 1, below:
Taking significant cues from Freud’s theories and concepts, the psychodynamic approach hypothesizes that personality characteristics of individuals are deep-seated and very difficult to transform in any substantial way. An acceptance of one’s own personality and quirks, being mindful of the effect they have on followers’, and acceptance of features and quirks of others hold the key to effective leadership. It also emphasizes that the relationship between a leader and his follower can be bolstered by gaining an understanding of individual undercurrents. Leaders and followers will internalize their acceptance and will learn to operate within a team environment keeping in mind, the psychological realms of human mind and psyche.
Since Freud’s theories clearly conjure an exploration of self and hidden rationale, they try to explain everyday choices like financial decisions, pursuit of happiness, fear, rational and irrational choices and delve deeper into meaning of life. Furthermore, the psychodynamic approach aids in better managing defense mechanisms, teach how to express emotions that are situation-appropriate, and cultivate a balanced perception of the self and others, in harmony with reality. As leaders and followers learn and grow in their individual capacities, they will contribute to a profound improvement in organizational associations and enhanced team performance.
“The only person with whom you have to compare ourselves, is that you in the past. And the only person better you should be, this is who you are now” – Sigmund Freud.