The psychological structure and leadership – success needs more than professional competence
Everyday work demands a lot from managers. In addition to technical and analytical skills, methodical competencies are also in great demand. Good leadership also includes the ability to motivate and influence employees so that their behavior serves the achievement of previously set company goals. This is where some managers reach their limits with their professional competencies. Rather, it is about the ability to relate. The psychological structure plays an essential role here. What exactly is meant by “mental structure” and where a good mental structure can be particularly helpful, you can find out here.
The psychic structure – what is it and where does it help me?
Perhaps you are also familiar with the phenomenon that you encounter professionally competent managers who are nevertheless unable to achieve the company’s goals? Although they are well trained in their field, they lack the ability to regulate themselves and their relationships at work in a way that serves the working atmosphere, satisfaction and success of the company. From a psychoanalytical point of view, good structural skills are also required to be able to successfully manage interpersonal relationships.
The structural abilities comprise the following 4 dimensions in total – perception, regulation, communication and bonding. All four abilities are relevant both for your contact with yourself and for your contact with others.
1. perception: being able to perceive yourself and others
First of all, the psychic structure includes the ability to perceive yourself and others in their individuality – that is, with all their feelings, motives and affects. For the manager, this means being able to turn attention away from everyday e-mails, meetings, telephone calls and appointments to his or her own inner life, and not only to recognize but also to distinguish between one’s own feelings, affects, motives and values.
But also with regard to your own employees* and colleagues, a good perception can help you to create a realistic picture of others and to experience them as persons with individual characteristics. Because only those who know themselves and the other person well can assess and regulate their relationship with the other person and thus make interpersonal relationships at work satisfactory.
2. regulation: being able to influence oneself and others
Another important structural ability is self- and object regulation. The former refers to the ability to control one’s attention, emotions, impulses and actions. Those who are able to control themselves and thus feel self-effective will also be able to perceive themselves as more self-confident in meetings, lectures or conversations with superiors, employees* or customers and be able to act accordingly. If you can control your inner world and thus your behavior, you will also be better able to protect the working relationship from your own – often negative – impulses. For example, a manager with good self-regulatory skills is able to avoid being driven by his or her emotions, but can recognize the triggers for their emotions and make a more conscious choice regarding their reaction. Finally, if the manager is also able to anticipate the reactions of others, he or she can react according to the desired goal and have a correspondingly positive influence on work-related interaction.
3. emotional communication internally and externally – How am I doing? How is the other person doing?
Communication – both internally and externally – plays a significant role in all interpersonal interactions in every company. While internal communication includes the ability to experience or create and use one’s own feelings, emotions and fantasies, external communication includes the emotional contact between the manager and his colleagues. This means that the manager is not only able to allow and express feelings towards his employees and colleagues, but also to reach out to them emotionally. Of course, the ability to empathize is also part of this, and who does not appreciate it at work when the manager empathizes with his or her counterpart and thus creates a “we-feeling”?
4. ability to connect – I know how to use inner images and create a feeling of belonging
In the course of our development we have had various experiences with significant people and have internalized them. If a manager succeeds in falling back on these – hopefully positive and strengthening – inner images, he can use them for himself. Especially in challenging or even stressful situations, these images can help the manager to encourage himself, to provide for himself or to stand up for his own wishes and needs.
In the relationship with colleagues and employees, the ability to bind oneself emotionally to them and to feel and create a feeling of belonging. On the other hand, it also makes it possible, e.g. in the case of dismissals or retirement, to dissolve working relationships again and to mourn the departure of colleagues and employees.
The psychological structure and the problem with under- and over-steering
All these structural skills are particularly valuable for managers. If the inner structure is well developed, the executive is able to perceive, communicate, control and make their own feelings, emotions, thoughts, fantasies and memories perceptible to others. At the same time, they can empathize with others with interest and empathy and participate in their experiences. This enables her to create a feeling of liveliness and togetherness in the company and thus a working atmosphere in which people enjoy working and are motivated.
In practice, however, you often meet managers – perhaps you have already caught yourself in the act – who are less able to perceive their own emotions. Sometimes these are not very much available to them in interpersonal relationships. This often includes a tendency to “overdrive” – i.e. that one’s own affects are difficult to tolerate and therefore have to be strongly controlled. The emotional experience is inhibited by the fear of being punished for one’s own feelings, affects and impulses by the social environment at work. This can lead to a limited empathic communication with colleagues and employees, which makes it difficult to establish the “we-feeling” and must be fought for.
Finally, “under-control” is also a problem in interpersonal interaction in the work context, when it comes to influencing relationships at the workplace in accordance with the organizational goals. Here the affects and impulses are not controlled, but usually break through uncontrolled. The disapproval by the social environment cannot be guessed here and thus does not serve as a regulation possibility of the own impulsiveness. Due to the lack of empathy of the leader with his counterpart and the resulting reduced emotional contact, misunderstandings inevitably arise. One talks quasi constantly past each other, does not understand itself. The consequences are anger, disappointment and conflicts at the workplace, which have a negative impact on the working atmosphere.
We would be pleased to help you to influence your relationships in the work context in a way that is satisfactory for you and thus to achieve your set company goals. A psychoanalytical business coaching can help you to assess and improve your structural abilities.
If you are interested, please contact us and we will be happy to advise you on your options.
M.Sc. Julia Perlinger, Coach at dynaMIND