How can Psychoanalysis and systems theory contribute to the leadership of thinking in the further education and skills sector?

Perceptions of leaders and their leadership can be harsh and unforgiving. Their role is frequently a lonely one, beset by false conceptions, projections and grand delusions. This is true particularly at the very top of an organisation, where budgetary, curricular and accountability pressures are most acute and leaders frequently bear the brunt of the resentment of their staff and partners. This is sometimes fair and well-founded. Often, though, it is not that simple.

There can be a tendency within organisations and systems to personalise analysis, reducing it to the level of individual fault-finding, and to overlook the systemic factors which drive behaviour and shape ways of working. Equally, there can be a tendency among leaders to neglect their own internal drivers and how their role within an organisation or broader system can mobilise them.

We forget too that leaders, when all is said and done, are just people, subject to the same desires, drives, hopes, habits and emotional glitches as the rest of us. The premise of this publication is that healthy organisations need healthy leaders, mindful of their role and relationships within a changing and highly complex system and capable of attending to and carefully cultivating their own inner worlds, while remembering those of others.


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