Jung would suggest that this overuse of specific strengths is usually aligned with the reliance of a leader on their public persona. These leaders begin to believe that their persona is actually their true self and that other aspects of their psyche aren’t really valuable or even present. They begin down the path of impostership. At this point, Jung would suggest, the Shadow often comes to the fore. Leaders not only make excessive or inappropriate use of their strengths—they also mess up in the use of their strengths. Both Joshua and Kristen become obsessed with their administrative duties. For Kristen, this obsession might relate to the constellation of her psychic tensions and to the resulting anxiety, confusion and distraction. Joshua might become obsessed with administrative details because he is angry and is taking out this anger on his own paperwork or the men and women with whom he works (rather than his adolescent clients, their parents, the school system or society in general).
As a coach to either Kristen or Joshua, I would help them identify the moments when their strengths are being used in a skillful and appropriate manner—and then identify when their strengths are not being used in a skillful manner (often because they are anxious or angry) or are being used in an inappropriate manner or in an inappropriate setting. The tendency of leaders is often to abandon their strengths when these strengths get them in trouble: “I was too vocal at this meeting. Next time I’m not going to speak at all!” “I’ve had it with this accreditation process. Next time I’m going to hand it off to one of my assistants!” “I’m sick and tired of always being the nice guy. From now on, I’m going to be tough-as-nails!” This discarding of one’s strengths is never the answer.
An organizational coach can help her client ease off from the polar (polarity) shift and help her client achieve a more balanced perspective. Furthermore, given the ironic nature of the leader’s psyche, it also might be of great benefit for the coach to help her client identify how the shift to an opposite perspective or behavioral pattern can be beneficial—if it is done not in despair or disgust regarding the dominant strength. It is done because strength can also be found on the opposite side of the psyche. “I can become quieter during future meetings and can do a bit more listening. I can engage this more reflective side.” “I don’t have to run the whole show when I get anxious about the accreditation process. I do know how to bring in other people to assist me.” “I can establish firmer boundaries regarding my interpersonal relationships and do not have to always give in to other people.”Download Article 1K Club