Psychodynamic Paradigm Approach


There is a prominent way to analyze leadership behavior using psychological models. The psychodynamic paradigm that recently became widely used in business seems to allow conducting a comprehensive and multifactorial analysis of a leader’s behaviors and deciding whether the leadership style fits the task. For the purposes of the application of the approach, the paper will use case number 12.2 from Northouse’s book Leadership: Theory and practice.

Questions to the Case

The case describes a story of an Ivy League graduate, Tim, who failed at a managerial position being unable to cope with his fear of success (Northhouse, 2016). It appears that the board had every right to fire Tim because he did not perform at the level required by the company. That implies that his inability to cope with his inner problems caused the company financial damage, which led to the decision to relieve him from his duties. The board instead of raising him to a managerial position straight from a subordinate one could have organized leadership courses for him. Not every employee is capable of managing the challenges implied by a new position that is associated with great responsibility.

Tim’s uneasy relationships with his father contributed much to the problems that led to the major downfall in the bright man’s career. This could, presumably, be the area for psychological exploration. It could possibly reveal solutions to Tim’s success problem. Firstly, Tim could try to comprehend that he is not responsible for his father’s unsuccessful business endeavors and his life successes and failures are not connected to anything but his own personality. Secondly, Tim needs to learn to praise himself for his own achievements, which could build up his confidence as a leader and a successful human being. I would firstly develop his sense of healthy proudness for himself and bring down the cult of his father, whose opinion seems to dominate Tim so much that it obstructs his career path. Next, I would also concentrate on his ability to visualize the greater goal behind smaller tasks to enable him to see the whole picture. The reason for this is that as a top executive, he failed to comprehend it and concentrated too much on the smaller problems.

The Relationships between Traditionalist Personality and Leadership

Tim exhibited traits that are adherent to the traditionalist personality type described by Cole. This type is somewhat consistent with the Obsessive type described by Freud. That type of personality often acts based on someone’s opinion that he or she holds as a fact (Cole 2013). That is a crucial factor that can contribute to biased leadership experience because a proper leader is often open to new ideas and uses them to suit current needs (Lanz, 2013). However, traditionalists could be able to build a trusting relationship within a team, which is also an essential skill for a leader. If a leader notices that his or her subordinate exhibits traditionalist traits, he or she should give them direct and straightforward instructions (Lanz, 2013).

As far as my personal experience is concerned, I seem to be a traditionalist myself. I need clear guidance to perform well, and I often cannot cope with too much pressure and responsibility. However, as a leader, I prefer to build a trusting and friendly working environment that has certain rules such as punctuality. In addition, I also prefer to gather opinions from colleagues and weigh them all before finalizing my decision.


Cole, G. (2013). Beware of these three personality pitfalls. Nonprofit World, 31(4), 8–9.

Lanz, K. (2013). Drop the ego. Director, 66(7), 76–77.

Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Thousand Oaks: CA: Sage Publications

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