Posted by: Ornella Farrugia
on Fri 14 Dec

Welcome to the latest in a series of brief interviews with guest experts from KnowledgeBrief’s Innovation Programme, providing a window into the experts’ latest ideas and new advice for executives.

Following the Innovation Day in November, Dan Sly, Professional Learning Advisor at KnowledgeBrief (KB), interviewed Dr Gerardo Abreu Pederzini (GP) from Kent Business School to discuss the importance of reflecting upon our own emotional intelligence and how we can apply it to become better professionals.

KB: What’s the key business challenge that organisations need to address that your research tackles?

GP: Regarding my work on psychoanalytic leadership, the key challenge that my research addresses is the human dimension that makes leadership a complicated drama. Nowadays, as we have become obsessed with issues such as efficiency and productivity, we sometimes forget that organisations are made of and led by people, and people are complicated. Particularly, in terms of leadership, its process is not straightforward. Both, leaders and followers, bring their baggage from earlier experiences into the leadership process. We realise this is important when we see, for instance, the politics, the anxieties, the resistance, or the frustrations that can emerge as part of leading/following. Overall, psychoanalytic perspectives on leadership enable leaders and followers to understand their hidden motivations and anxieties, to allow them to develop healthier relationships.

KB: What advice would you give to executives, based on your findings?

GP: To take the time to (really) know themselves and to (really) know their subordinates. The issue with carrying baggage from previous experiences is that we transfer this into the leadership process. For instance, we might have grown up frustrated with an absent or unreliable parent and now as followers we relate to a boss through the same fears and anxieties. The same thing happens to leaders, for example, previous challenging experiences during childhood might had pushed some to develop a narcissistic personality, because that is sometimes a necessary defence mechanism. However, if we inadvertently bring this into our leadership, we could end up producing toxic environments. Thus, it is essential that leaders learn to take their time to think about who they are, where they come from, their hidden repressions, their forgotten frustrations, and their quintessential dreams and how they influence their leadership. The same reflection needs to be happening regarding followers.

KB: How does your latest research approach this? What do the results indicate?

GP: The challenge of getting to know ourselves and those around us is that we might have identities that represent the baggage that we carry with us; yet, many times we feel pushed to repress into our unconscious minds those unwanted identities, and to present to society an ideal of what others expect us to be. Hence, to (really) know ourselves and other people we need to learn to interpret. In a word, to stop taking people at face value, and by contrast, take our time to look for hidden meanings.

KB: What did you learn or take away from meeting with the executives in the KnowledgeBrief Innovation Programmes?

GP: It was a fantastic experience, which taught me a lot about how open executives actually are to embrace psychoanalytic thinking, and how willing they are to be critical and reflective about themselves and their organisations. It was also fascinating to see that most of them were already thinking and wondering about these topics and that, thus, psychoanalytic tools could indeed help them in their very important missions as leaders. 

With thanks to Dr Gerardo Abreu Pederzini, Lecturer in HRM/Organisational Behaviour at Kent Business School.

Part of a series of brief interviews with expert guests from our Innovation Programmes, we cover insights from the latest research and key advice for executives to stay ahead in management and innovation.

Other Recent Blogs

Discuss topics like this in detail with industry leaders.

Learn More

Techniques Referenced in this Blog

Corporate/Organisational Culture | Emotional Intelligence | Leadership

Build capability with the latest management and leadership techniques

Learn more

Read the KnowledgeBrief monthly Business SCAN publication

Stay ahead in business with the latest ideas, innovations and research, in brief – filtered from the finest sources globally.
Unpack your Leadership Style
Learn more