Communication Failure: Psychodynamic Approaches

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x In this article, developments and research into Psychodynamic approaches will be used to explain and understand how communication failure between leaders and followers occur. Yet how much credibility can be given towards Psychodynamics as an approach to explain this breakdown in communication? An investigation into examples of communication breakdown will be carried out. Primarily an analysis between traditional theories such a situational, trait and style approaches will be contrasted with Psychodynamic approaches, to outline the differences between the two approaches, thus giving an exploration into why psychodynamic approaches are used at all within different aspects of daily life. Psychodynamics stems firstly from people having an understanding of their own behaviours/personality and being self-analytical, which allows them to alter such behaviours to suite others involved within communications. In addition to this, after the identification of the contrasting approaches have been made, a deeper understanding of psychodynamics will be carried out through analysing works from key theorists such as Freud the founder of the psychodynamic approaches, but further works of Eric Berne and Carl Jung to extend knowledge of the basic principle of psychodynamics which can be recognised as: “Psychodynamic theory is concerned with understanding the inner world of human beings and its relationship with how we behave in the outer world and relate to other people, organizations and society”. (Sandler, Catherine. 2011). However further exploration into why these psychodynamic approaches have emerged needs to be done through using a range of examples. The nature of examples used will predominantly be within the business environment, through the use of differing entrepreneurs, business sectors such as business coaching etc. and followers. The idea of using the business environment will not only allow for an understanding into why individuals in this case business leaders and follows may not interact effectively, but may also give an insight to why certain businesses succeed so well and why others have gone pear-shaped and not been as successful, as communication within a business is hugely beneficial to the success of a company. Further to this point: “If you seek success in the wrong places, you are likely to waste a lot of effort, focus on the wrong things, and in the end, overlook some of the real sources of competitive leverage—the culture and capabilities of your organization that derive from how you manage your people”. (Wetzel David W. 2009). Therefore the overall objective for this article is to prove that psychodynamics is a huge factor to take into account when identifying communication breakdown, as this approach may affect and alter the communication in this case between leaders and followers in an organisation. Psychodynamics as a framework that differs from traditional approaches such as situational approach, trait approach and style approach. To begin with, looking primarily at the traditional approaches of leadership behaviours there is vast research to support that psychodynamics differs hugely from these approaches. Situational theory firstly developed by theorist Hersey and Blanchard proposes “that the optimal style of supervision (defined in terms of a combination of relationship-orientated behaviour and task-orientated behaviour) changes as the level of follower maturity increases.” (Norris et al. Sept 1992) this theory therefore only accounts for the differentiation of supervision given from a leader amongst differing follower groups (lower maturity level of followers/employees require higher supervision). However this theory has been scrutinised by many different theorists; “Research revealed that no particular leadership style was universally effective and behavioural theories relied on abstract leadership types that were difficult to identify.” (Jim Allen McCleskey. 2014). This means that there is no individual relationship between leader and follower demonstrated within this approach, however leaders tend to mould their style of management to the behaviours of the employees. (Usually low-skilled employees need high attention rates and supervision). This negligence towards having individual relationship with followers, therefore could affect communication negatively, as there could not be an understanding for example to low production rates. Additionally looking at a different traditional theory known as trait theory will allow supplementary evidence to support the idea, that psychodynamics is the preferred theory to analyse communication breakdown. “The trait perspective suggests that certain individuals have special innate or inborn characteristics or qualities that make them leaders.” (Northouse, Peter Guy Feb 2012). However can traits alone guarantee leadership success? “A complete theory of leadership involves more than [specifying] leader traits. Traits only endow people with the potential for leadership. To actualize this potential, additional factors are necessary.” (Kirkpatrick and Locke. 1991). This evidence portrays that effective leadership does not just lie within the characteristics of an individual, yes a leader does need to hold certain traits that differ to a follower, however it is necessary that other factors need to be taken into account, therefore indicating that psychodynamics may possibly be a stronger tool to analyse effective leadership (which involves effective communication). As this idea takes into account the importance of followers as well as the leaders, and the relationship that they have within an organisation. Now that traditional theories have been analysed and discussed an understanding into psychodynamics and this theories contribution towards communication breakdown can be investigated. The basic principle of psychodynamics in the context of a business environment is all about relationship between both the leader and the follower working together and how a good leader may sense behavioural patterns in an employee and themselves for example reading body language and adapting to suit the needs of others or outcome. Therefore psychodynamics is about being self-aware and self-analytical in situations, to parties whom may be disinclined to being lead. “Psychodynamic perspectives illuminate approaches that differentiate between behaviors and activities geared toward rational task performance and those geared to emotional needs and anxieties. The application of this approach emphasizes the importance of understanding human relationships through the idea of connectedness and relatedness.” (Trehan, Kiran. Feb 2007). Nowadays leadership “literature seems to focus more on leadership than on followership and the nature of the relationship between the two. This uncertainty may explain some of the anxiety in the leadership space.” (Greyvenstein et al. 2012) thus supporting that psychodynamics hugely differs to the traditional theories as this concept takes into account the importance of the follower, rather focusing on the importance of the leaders style or behaviours. An understanding in the basic principle of psychodynamics has been made, an exploration into the types of methods created by differing theorists can be identified. The first method that will be discussed will be from Freud whom is said to be the founder of psychodynamics. His idea Wetzel, David W. (2009). The measurement of personality in the adult worker: A basis for the psychodynamic approach to leadership. Available: Last accessed 25/11/2014. Sandler, Catherine. (2011). Executive Coaching: A Psychodynamic Approach, McGraw-Hill Education, Maidenhead, GBR. Available from: ProQuest ebrary. [25 November 2014]. Norris et al. (Sept 1992). Situational Leadership Theory: A Replication. Available: Last accessed 25/11/2014. Jim Allen McCleskey. (2014). Situational, Transformational, and Transactional Leadership and Leadership Development. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly. 5 (4), pp118. Northouse, Peter Guy (Feb 2012). Leadership Theory and Practice . 6th ed. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. pp6. Shelley A. Kirkpatrick and Edwin A. Locke. (1991). Leadership: do traits matter?. Academy of Management Executive. 5 (2), pp56. Greyvenstein, Henk; Cilliers, Frans. (2012). Followership’s experiences of organisational leadership: A systems psychodynamic perspective. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology. 38 (2), p1-p10. Trehan, Kiran. (Feb 2007). Psychodynamic and Critical Perspectives on Leadership Development. Advances in Developing Human Resources. 9 (1), 72-82.

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