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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Managing the Dark Side of Competition: Creating Reflective Leaders

Organizations are like automobiles. They don't run themselves, except downhill. They need people to make them work. And not just any people, but the right people. The effectiveness of an organization's employees' particularly individuals in leadership positions' determines how the organizational 'machine' will perform. Some people are so effective at their job that a leader can do very little to make them better; others are so hopeless that almost nothing can be done to improve their effectiveness. The majority of the population, however, falls somewhere in between those two extremes. These people do their job adequately and go with the flow, looking to their leader to set the course, speed, and duration of that flow. They want some guidance, some suggestions about where to go and how to get there. A company, however, can have all the advantages in the world 'strong financial resources, enviable market position, and state-of-the-art technology' but if leadership fails, all these advantages melt away and the organization 'like the driverless car' runs downhill. But if we're to understand the dark side of competition, we also have to be willing to go beyond the directly observable. We have to pay attention to the presenting internal and social dynamics; to the intricate playing field between leaders and followers; and to unconscious and invisible psychodynamic processes and structures that influence the behavior of individuals, dyads, and groups in organizations. People who dismiss the complex clinical dimension in organizational analysis can't hope to move beyond an impoverished understanding of what life in organizations is all about.