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From shadow to golden behaviours: building healthy leadership and a healthy organisation

Healthy leaders are not just ethical, kind and respectful, they also work on the negative side of themselves and their organisations, says clinical psychologist and author Anna Eliatamby. In this video she talks to The People Space’s editorial director Siân Harrington about golden and shadow behaviours and how people leaders can move themselves and their organisations out of the shadow and into the golden zone

As leaders we often do our very best to be positive and use golden behaviours such as compassion, inclusion and honesty to fulfil our functions. Similarly, most organisations will try to be ethical and value-based in how they function, what they expect from employees and the cultures they create and maintain.

However, says clinical psychologist and author Anna Eliatamby, alongside the golden lies the shadow side of ourselves and organisations. All of us, regardless of how ethical and value-based we are, have shadow behaviours we use, hopefully, rarely. Similarly, organisational roles, cultures and structures can possess shadow elements.

The problem is that we don’t tend to name or address these shadow elements. “We may notice them but we generally tend not to recognise or acknowledge them,” says Eliatamby.

For leaders and organisations to operate healthily we need to look at both the golden and shadow sides, she argues. And then we can think about how we can enhance the positive and golden while addressing the shadow side and incorporating it so that  it does not overwhelm the leader in their role or the organisation in its function.

In this video interview Eliatamby explains more about golden and shadow behaviours, the role HR can play in helping to address such behaviours and what steps leaders can take to start healthily addressing the negative aspects of themselves – and their organisation.

About Anna Eliatamby

Anna Eliatamby is a clinical psychologist and workplace wellbeing expert. Anna has helped both the UN and other organisations develop organisational wellbeing strategies. Her new book Healthy Leadership & Organisations: Beyond the Shadow Side provides clear definitions of healthy leadership and organisations (matched with the principles for corporate governance of the Financial Reporting Council).

To download a transcript of this interview – and watch other interviews with leading thinkers on the future of work and leadership as well as accessing other resources – join our Free Future of Work Community here. A longer version of this interview is available in the Pro Community. You can find out more here.

Published 15 June 2022
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