Shadows are those untamed emotions and behaviours that lie, largely unconscious, beneath the surface of our lives - and inform everything we do.

The challenge for us as leaders is the self-awareness to discern how our shadow impacts the way we lead– e.g. decision-making, strategic planning, team building, ways we deal with conflict, and transitions.

Whenever we face a challenge, the tendency is to try to address the result of the problem rather than the cause, and of course leaders are always looking for immediate practical help to improve their leadership. The problem is that all our leadership tasks are informed by who we are, i.e. our inner life. For this reason, we have to start by unpacking those core issues.

And the first inner life issue every leader must confront is his or her shadow.

Why? Everyone has a shadow.

Our weaknesses that lie concealed just beneath the surface of our more proper selves.

Consider the table here that contrasts how we face our shadows in standard practice vs. how to face them in an emotionally healthy way.