During times of severe crisis and turmoil, as experienced globally in the last few years, leadership is a critical resource in staying connected with social and organizational reality. This presentation will first describe how the 33 Chilean miners, trapped almost two-thousand feet below ground for 69 days, shared forms of leadership that activated group resilience. Qualitative data reveals how the miners as a group engaged in shared agency. A sophisticated work capacity and a constructive relational dynamic evolved, helping them absorb severe strain and anxiety. Their distribution of leadership was essential for promoting collective sense-making and emotional containment. There will also be an opportunity to think together about how some of what has been learned from this paradigmatic case might be applied to contemporary organizations within their complex and shifting reality.
Locating Winnicott within a broad landscape of critical scholarship that dissects work’s perils, Nathan Gerard's new book positions Winnicott as both a radical critic and creative advocate for building a different kind of work life—one that might make room for the presence of self.
By shuffling the discourse on neoliberal subjectivity to reclaim what Winnicott calls “unit status” of the separate self, Gerard differentiates Winnicott from the relational tradition by advocating for Winnicott’s non-relational aspects. Through such analysis, the book reveals how work and home have become two sides of the same impoverished coin, each contributing to a legitimately “bad environment” that perpetuates self-absence and annihilates one’s unique sense of “feeling real” and alive.
The recent article by Seth Allcorn and Carrie M Duncan published in Psychohistory, “A Journey into the Heart of Darkness: Psychosocial Insights into Predatory Behavior”, explores the heart of darkness in leaders and organizations using Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella, which was later remade in the movie Apocalypse Now. It does so by examining how ideologies, cultural norms, and social values can shape the personalities of emerging leaders, sometimes in dark ways, and amplify their effects on societies and organizations. In particular, leaders’ predatory personality features can result in destructive organizational dynamics, and increase costs related to workers’ emotional distress and organizational dysfunction. A psychosocial perspective contributes to understanding how harmful styles of leading emerge. The psychosocial view presented in this article “bears witness to sociopolitical and economic traumas generated by national and organizational cultures that allow, and may even value, the predatory behavior that disrupts work and traumatizes…organization members” (p. 255). The authors identify assessments of leader-follower relational dynamics as important for “understanding the unconscious emotional and psychological dynamics that become barriers to organizational effectiveness and change” (p. 254). In short, “by making the experience of ‘what it’s like to work (live) here’ available for reflection it becomes possible for organizational members to transcend the harm being done and rebuild a sense of community both inside and outside of the organization” (p. 255).Read more…
In this post Howard Stein explains the creative process through which he and Seth Allcorn developed the collaborative poetry in their forthcoming book – Whiteboardings: Creating Collaborative Poetry in a Third Space.He begins by describing “proto-poems”, which are largely unconsciously-driven, mental associations evoked by memories of events that have emotional significance. They consist of narrative sentences, phrases, fragments of ideas, line breaks, stanza breaks, that at first sight appear to take the form of a poem. Proto-poems are not first drafts. They exist somewhere in the aesthetic space between fantasy, imagination, free association, narrative, and poem.
The collaborative poems in Whiteboardings: Creating Collaborative Poetry in a Third Space, began with proto-poems generated by Seth Allcorn – emerging from his “lived experience” - and transformed into poems by Howard Stein.
According to Stein, "Some of Seth’s proto-poems immediately resonated with me, my life experiences, my emotions, even my bodily sensations. I could practically walk into the scene the proto-poem conjured."
This post will introduce you to the process of collaborative poetry with three examples from the forthcoming book. You will be able to hear Howard Stein read these poems as you read along with the included text.
Allcorn describes these poems as coming from his "lived experience, “sticky” memories that he has "revisited throughout his life". According to Allcorn, "The poems hold meaning for me, some I am aware of and undoubtedly some that I am not although the poems suggest that there is yet another path, a third way to awareness."Read more…
In “Accessing uncolonized terrains of organizations: Uncanny force of sleep and dreaming,” Tarja Salmela, Anu Valtonen, and Susan Meriläinen (2020) explore the uncanny as a powerful perspective for revealing blind spots in organizational subjectivity and organizing. Drawing from autoethnographic material, the authors show “how the uncanniness of dreams and sleeping is experienced in organizations” (p.33). At the root of their exploration of uncolonized organizational terrains is an unsettling of the neat physical borders that bound organizations, a problematization of binary thinking, and a questioning of static categorizations - all of which are pervasive in rationalist thinking.
The authors introduce us to a novel way of using dreams and dreaming, the “unconcept” of uncanniness, and stories in interpreting the experience of researching and working in organizations. Yet, the article does not provide solid answers about how to link dreams to interpreting organizational culture, how to “use” the uncanny, and the role of stories and photographs in seeing and telling uncolonized terrains.Read more…