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Leadership Shadow: Fading the dark into light

Leadership is not about individuals, it’s about the relationship between a leader and his followers and that’s why Warren Bennis has said: “A leader doesn’t just get the message across; he is the message”. A Shadow is defined as a dark area where light is blocked by an opaque object. Shadow, in this case, is a metaphor and relates to the leader’s character, relationship, integrity and work ethic. Leadership is a concept that posits that leaders affect those who they lead. Leadership shadow is not a new concept, yet it has to secure its position in the world. A leader’s action, messages, words, behavior, and attitude flow into its followers directly and indirectly. A leader sometime has the most subtle indirect shadow that has the biggest impact even though it’s less visible. This shadow is one such property required by an individual to be a front runner in the corporate world. It is difficult to see, but its shape and clarity will reach everyone who follows them. A wise leader makes prudent decisions and travels the road less taken thus leaving behind the legacy that is unmatchable. Shadows, in-terms of psychology can be defined as “those untamed emotions and behavior that lie, largely unconsciously beneath the surface of our lives”. These shadows have positive and negative attributes that individuals possess but they are not aware of. Negative attributes are those hostile wounds which can sabotage someone’s success and relationship with others. Positive attributes are the survival strategies that help in coping up with negative attributes.
Blown-out overall image
A 2014 study found that 40% of workers would rate their bosses a ‘B’ grade for overall management skills. In a 2012 survey, workers said that their bosses misbehaved even saying that they displayed inappropriate behavior, bad language, and bullying. Few other surveys suggest that their managers are doing inadequate work. In the fast-paced, interconnected and immensely competitive world, this growing problem is increasing rapidly and causes rifts between leader and followers. The tensions that these rifts trigger are the negative shadows.  Followers also ignore program and services that their manager thinks invaluable. This diminishes the possibilities of learning and development.
Understanding the other side of the story
Individuals work hard; and push themselves every day trying to reach the top tier of an organization. Sometimes, in ascending the ladder of success, personal and business catastrophes emerges among the co-workers. Executives have such power influences overs the others, without their own awareness. The demand and responsibilities of a job often makes bosses hard to understand the impact of their shadows. The higher they go, the responsibilities get bigger and so does the shadows. They have to get the work done which creates psychological demands. They get stuck into antisocial, workaholic and sometimes depressing states. These states complicate and make difficulties in understanding the dynamics and repercussions of the impact that their shadow generates. Sometimes these shadows go so much deep that it turns into a blind big black spot. These powerful heads have to understand that the employees not only mirror their boss but take cues after them. Mirroring boss is a safe strategy to stay healthy in the corporate world. A move, smart or dumb is accessed by everyone around the whole company. Leaders should be aware of what they say, what they prioritize and how they get the work done. By doing deficient leadership, they fail to find the inspiration and in inspiring others because of they’re even bigger getting a negative shadow. A leader also reaches the slippery point in career and starts to get comfortable into the role. At this point, a leader ignores his duties and depends upon their juniors to complete the work.
Attitude towards the role
Every leader should embrace his/her shadows. These contain the positive and negative experiences of life. These are the experiences that have empowered them to be someone’s boss. Embracing these shadows will give them huge relief, and more importantly, leaders should acknowledge the dark side without being afraid. They should be aware of their actions and messages both internally and externally. Accessing these sides will help them in creating their organization more humane, friendly, approachable and connected. Acknowledging weakness will surge more respect among the workers and the strengths in inspiring. Relying on others in weakness will generate the highest marks. The famous formula”E+R=O” i.e. “Events+Response=outcome” is the perfect solution of maintaining the engagements. Any leader must remember that the culture of any organization is shaped by any type of behavior if only a leader is willing to tolerate. It’s up to individuals how they want to cast their shadow on their followers and themselves on black-to-white colour spectrum.