As in the case of archetypes operating in all organizations, the staff members at Fairhills project their own archetypal images (in this case the image of Great Warrior) onto their leader (Joshua) – in part because this is a very powerful, unacknowledged and often frightening energy source in their own personal psyche. This source must be isolated and assigned to some source outside themselves. The projection benefits the staff members because they can more readily absolve themselves of responsibility for the success or failure of their own work and the overall welfare of the organization—looking instead for their leader(s) to take on full responsibility as the Great Warrior (or All Nurturing Mother or Ultra-Brave Leader or Profound Visionary, etc.).
Carl Jung suggests that deeply held archetypes come with considerable baggage. As I noted with regard to the image of Great Mother in Kristen’s personal psyche and in the collective psyche operating in her organization, there is considerable irony inherent in the image of Great Warrior that seems to be driving at least some of Joshua’s behavior and the reactions (and over-reactions of other people) to his behavior. The Great Warrior can be very brave–but can also be unrealistic: charging out of the foxhole with neither enough ammunition nor a sense of where the enemy is located or the magnitude of the enemy’s strength.
Those who work at Fairhills may project great wisdom onto Joshua, but in doing so they may be distorting their own sense of reality or assigning responsibility for defining reality onto Joshua. He makes a mistake, but this mistake is acknowledged neither by himself nor those working around him. Joshua can become the great imposture (Ket de Vries, 2003). A bubble of omniscience is created around Joshua, leading to a failure of staff and board member (and Joshua himself) to create an organizational learning environment at Fairhills. The same mistakes are repeated because no one is willing to admit that Joshua is human and that wisdom is a shared commodity in organizations like Fairhills that face complex, unpredictable, turbulent—and contradictory—conditions in serving a damaged adolescent population.Download Article 1K Club