September is similar to January as a new beginning. Summer is almost over, it’s back to school month for kids and schools, and universities launch a new semester. It’s a good time to look at the big picture – the deeper meaning of what we do at work. Balanced Leadership, and in particular archetypal intelligence, can be a great help in doing this.
We spend a major portion of lives working, yet for many people, work is much less satisfying than it could be. Salary levels may be part of the problem, along with skewed work-life balance, unfriendly organizational cultures and lack of advancement opportunities. All of these factors play a role, but the deeper problem is often the failure to honour the need people have to find meaning in the workplace.
This need is most commonly expressed by women, but the desire to have our work lives touched by more than a paycheque transcends gender. It’s our archetypal imperative. Yes, we want a decent salary working for a fair organization, but we also want to feel that our talents have a place of belonging, our relationships are supportive and that we are doing work that is in line with our passions in life.
Changes like employment standards, collective agreement revisions and increased organizational flexibility have helped make some workplaces better. There is slow but steady recognition of the challenges people face – especially women – in combining careers with family, balancing work demands with the rest of life. But the fact that so many professionals still feel alienated from the standard corporate culture or large bureaucracies they work in, after decades of legislative changes and company policy revisions, reveals a deeper challenge.
Many organizations still only acknowledge the fear-based world, the masculine domain of goals, duty, sacrifice and hierarchy. These important elements help make organizations survive and expand, yet ironically, these same assets become liabilities when the love-based world values of authenticity, meaning, relationships and self-expression are neglected. Successful organizations make space for all these necessary ingredients.
The first pillar of Balanced Leadership is recognition that we live in and indeed need to honour two related but distinctly different worlds. Recognizing the qualities of both worlds is an important step towards making that change. There are two drivers in the human condition: fear and love. Companies and leaders need to pay attention to the balance of these forces. We need the attributes of both worlds to develop healthy, thriving organizations that balance the needs for security (profit, growth, predictability, objectives) with the needs for engagement (fulfillment, belonging, creativity and meaning).
When a major portion of the work force feels their voices are lost or suppressed then it’s not employees that need to change, but the organizations that hope to use their talents. In archetypal terms, we need Crones to hold a strong vision for the importance of passion in the workplace and the potential of individuals. We also need Mentors who have the skills to steer the company to fulfill this vision, making space for standards as well as individual creativity and input.
Work plays a vital role in most people’s lives. Yes, it pays our bills, but for work to be all that it can be – and for us to contribute fully – work needs to be a source of meaning, validation and belonging.
As things return to full speed again in September, best wishes for a balanced workplace!