In this blog we speak about leadership – both of ourselves and of others. As we move past January 31st, the start of the Chinese New Year we move in to the ‘Year of the Green Horse’. For the Chinese the Green Horse represents Leadership. The horse is green to speak of Plant energy, which in Chinese Medicine represents growth, strength, movement and power, along with cooperation, flexibility and humour. The Horse too represents power, freedom and passion and is linked closely with Leadership.
We relate leadership to the Sovereign part of us – our own inner King or Queen who rules our internal kingdom, lovingly guiding us through life. The Sovereign part of us holds the vision for our lives and believes in this vision, supporting and nurturing us as we work towards our goals. We also call on this Sovereign part of us when we are required to lead others – whether it be our family, a group or organisation or a country or movement.
In our experience of working with the shadow we find that support is the side of leadership that is most commonly missing in people’s lives. Whether we are talking about leadership of ourselves or leadership of others. In our society we tend to value people who have inspiring ideas and a desire to move forward in life and create, but we can often shame people who look for a lot of support and reassurance whilst working towards their goals. Yet these are two sides of the same coin. We cannot bring our visions to fruition in a healthy way without an enormous amount of support and guidance from others.
There is often a sense that we should ‘go it alone’ and do it all by ourselves. Yet if we understand the concept of the shadow we can see that leadership and support are inextricably linked and both are represented by the Sovereign archetype. Support is essential to leadership, and good leaders will seek this out openly and without reservation, in many different forms. Here we understand that we need to take in as much as we give out. As leaders we are still human and need human support, love and encouragement in order to succeed.
Leadership without support is never sustainable and can lead to:
- a forceful, confrontational form of leadership – the ‘Tyrant King’,
- exhaustion and burn out – ‘sacrificing ourselves’,
- a simple giving up and a lack of joy or inspiration – ‘Why bother?’
- a repeating cycle of manic work followed by overwhelm and hopelessness.
- Looking for support in inappropriate ways or from the wrong people.
Needless to say, none of these styles is a healthy model for moving forward with our lives. Finding the appropriate support for ourselves, in whatever form that may take, and building this in to the way that we work, can be the first step to resolving many leadership related struggles.
For more information about Shadow Work, see :