The global financial crisis and its consequences forthe global economy continue to prove that it’s harder and harder for financial analysts to predict the situation even for the next year. ‘The times when you were able to be sure that with certain amount of will and persistence you would move from point A to point B are gone. Today’s businesspeople have much less levers of control over the situation’, Andrey Rossokhin, HSE Professor and Head of the master’s programme on ‘Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Business Consulting’, said in his presentation entitled ‘Integration of psychoanalytic approach technologies in solving the key tasks of economy and business’.
‘Who is a the modern businessperson? We have run out of rational concepts related to this. And traditional methods and technologies of corporate and HR governance started to malfunction by the end of the 20th century’, the speaker said.
And the problem is not only the rapid changes in the fields of finance and economics. It’s difficult to argue against the fact that the world as a whole is living in a transitional period, which influences all aspects of social, economic, and private life.
The results of some international studies show that representatives of Generation Y (people born from 1981 to 2000) and Generation Z (born in the 21st century) are better prepared for ambiguity. ‘Generation Y is adapted to ambiguity, and Z were born in this state of ambiguity’, Andrey Rossokhin notes.
According to the same international studies, ten years from now, the vast majority of business leaders will be from Generation Y. And no one knows yet what Generation Y is and what leaders will grow from its representatives. This is one of the problems that scare the leaders of Generation X, who were born in the 1960s and 1970s.
‘X is the generation of people who have everything under control. They know how to manage themselves, people, and business, and how to achieve their goals in a mood of certainty’, Andrey Rossokhin suggests.
Speaking about representatives of Generation Y, their way of thinking is formed by, among other things, the internet and virtual reality with their rapidly growing social networks. Which means that since their childhood, representatives of both Generation Y and Generation Z have lived not only in the real world, but also in a parallel one, which combines fantasy with reality. ‘This switches on their unconscious, they are more ‘familiar’ with it, than the older generation’, the author believes.
But, according to X, Gen Y are lazy. They hang about in social networks and put everything off until later. International studies also confirm that this younger generation is inclined to postpone important and essential tasks for tomorrow; in psychology this phenomenon is called ‘procrastination’.
At the same time, the results of other studies reveal that it is the procrastinators who are the most creative managers of Generation Y. ‘This doesn’t mean that the laziest people choose the easiest ways, they just turn on other mechanisms, which may be unavailable for a rationally thinking person’, Rossokhin explains.
Nevertheless, creativity alone, as well as the ability for control and predictability alone, are not enough for a today’s leaders or, even more so, for future leaders.
An effective leader in the context of ambiguity should have both the qualities of Generation X, including ability to control and self-control, and the quality which researchers have noticed in the newer generation, the ability to use the resources of one’s unconscious.
In the context of this newly developed theory of leadership, Andrey Rossokhin suggests two extreme types of leaders – manager-leaderand hero-leader.
A manager-leaderis a cowboy who is in good control of himself, he sticks to an ‘armour-protected style’ of leadership. ‘He uses his armour not only to protect himself from external attacks and changes, but also from internal enemies, such as instant emotions, fantasies, stress, passions and fears’, Rossokhin says. Such armour, according to the researcher, is important in most Russian state monopolist companies. A successful example in the West of this type of steady, successful movement along a narrow path is Sam Walton’s Walmart empire.
A hero-leader, however resembles a character who receives their special power from a witch or wizard. He can’t always control this power, but he can work with it and use it. In this context, it is the potential of the unconscious which helps him to win in the end. ‘The internal power of such a leader is the ability to accept and survive ambiguity and uncertainty, to let something unknown and maybe even frightening appear inside yourself…’, Rossokhin explains. Hero-leaders find it difficult to work in strictly structured companies with a minimum of freedom. ‘On the contrary, in companies with a “Silicon Valley” type of atmosphere, they can realize their talents’, the author says.
At the same time, a hero-leader may be unable to implement his ideas, in the same way as a manager-leader might fail to let them develop. And if the two types of leaders work in one company, they can get into a conflict, if there is no third party above them, like a wise boss or investor.
The highest level of leadership skill is to combine the two extremes in the clash of the conscious and the unconscious. As an example, the author spoke about Steve Jobs, who was at the same time a hero-leader and a manager-leader.
In a rapidly changing environment, a psychoanalytical approach to business studies and business consulting, according to the researcher, is becoming more and more relevant, since it teaches people to analyze the situation and make decisions on the basis of this.
Without understanding the situation, you can calculate a strategy for several steps ahead, but these steps may be wrong or lead you down an incorrect path, and the leader and the company will lose out.
‘If there is an understanding of the situation on deeper levels, and this is what psychoanalysis gives us, some new solutions appear from out of the blue, and new opportunities are revealed, which were previously hidden in the invisible part of the iceberg’, Andrey Rossokhin concludes.