Here are some recent, anonymized examples of clients and how I have helped them. For some, the issue was business, for others personal, and for still others, the two domains overlapped.
At a crossroads
An experienced, highly specialized financial/legal services professional cannot decide for himself whether to continue to work independently or to partner with a large, established, international firm. Headhunters regularly poll him for the latter option, but he has a mechanical aversion to it. As it turns out, this aversion does not apply so much to headhunters but actually to any environment with a great emphasis on commerce rather than content. As a partner within a large, established partnership, one naturally has to deal with the business side to a high extent. In other words: you always give up a certain individuality in order to gain money and prestige. Prestige, after all, is a collective compromise product, to quote Jung. Pursuing it isn’t good or bad, but it should suit you. Not so in the case of my client. In our dialogue, we find out that, as a specialist in the field, he prefers to continue to follow his own, independent course, in order to live his Jungian archetype of The Wise Man, although he may earn less money. It is still possible for him to work for large firms, but preferably hired as a self-employed person and on an ad hoc basis (in the so-called flexible layer). Should he ever consider a partnership himself, a suitable opportunity for him is most likely to present itself through the reputation he builds on the basis of his expertise, within a network of industry peers.
Generational change; death and (re)birth
A woman in her mid-forties has recently given birth to her first child and is considering her future career, also in light of this new motherhood. She has an organizational function in secondary education but feels that she is working below her level and is not getting the opportunities she deserves. Her father recently passed away, which saddens her a lot. If we look more closely at her relationship with her father, it becomes apparent that this relationship was very close, but he also criticized her continuously. Like her, he felt she should be able to get a better job, but blamed her, not circumstances, for not doing so.
Further analysis shows that she has subconsciously always worked against herself in realizing her career plans. And also why: namely to maintain the dependency relationship with her father. It curbed her but also gave her a sense of security. For her career, this meant that she was never able to properly distinguish which ambitions were her own and which she had taken over from her father. His death, however sad, eventually initiates a process for the woman in which she takes matters into her own hands for the rest of her life and career. And starts acting on her own ideas, instead of on her father’s. In Jung’s terms, she no longer projects her animus onto him, but now develops it herself. She now has the courage to accept a more serious position with more responsibility and also radiates this. It’s now only a matter of time before she gets one.
Business and private: from 1 + 1 = 1.5 back to 1+1 = 3
A senior manager at a large, internationally operating company with several divisions experiences a lot of stress at work. But his colleagues hardly notice. His young family all the more: at home, he is increasingly out of his mind and the atmosphere is often tense. A classic case of ‘displacement’, in which dissatisfaction is taken out in a different environment and on different people than where the root cause lies. A situation where not only the actual problem is avoided but where a second one emerges.
We get to work to analyze the stress issue. It turns out that this has everything to do with a recent reorganization, in which the department has thinned out but the tasks have actually increased. The manager considers it a sign of personal failure to bring this up. That is a twisted sense of honor: in Jungian terms, he takes the Hero archetype too far, so that his strength turns into a weakness. We develop an argumentation in which understaffing is not formulated as a personal problem but as a broader issue, with risks for the company’s interests. He shares this argument with his directors, including a proposal for change. Successfully.
Leadership beyond clichés
A staff director at a large, international company receives feedback via an assessment report that his leadership qualities are not yet sufficiently developed to be classified higher in terms of job category. We get to work together, first putting that report aside. Instead, we focus uninhibitedly on the person and the ambitions of the staff director himself. His Big Five scores very high on the criteria of dedication and, unsurprisingly, intellect. It takes a rethink on his part to realize that not everyone automatically recognizes such qualities. In fact, those qualities require extra use of social skills to make them effective. Otherwise, you will scare others off without realizing it.
The solution lies in redefining exactly what leadership should mean in the case of this staff director, as free as possible from clichés (or in Jungian terms: from collective images) that do not suit him. Given his personality and his situation, this mainly means: convincing and getting people involved when it comes to matters in which they are not experts themselves. This requires two concrete skills: being able to translate complex matters in a simple manner – and daring to descend from the ivory tower. The theories of Dale Carnegie (How to win friends and influence people) in all their simplicity prove to withstand the test of time effortlessly. Using these and other principles as a guideline, I second the client in the preparation and evaluation of a number of key presentations and other events within the company, where he successfully takes on a new, coordinating, more empathetic, and more connecting role – while retaining ( yes, even growing) his own individuality.