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The Map of the Soul

articles on the nature of the human mind

By S.M. Zakir Hussain (Bangladesh)

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Leading by Managing Knowledge and the Subconscious
The Psychology of leadership



WHAT does a leader really do? He influences the behavior of people towards the achievement of goal/goals. So leadership is the process of influencing others’ behavior so as to achieve a common goal by dint of the unified, motivated pattern of the group behavior. But what does behavior mean? Why do people behave at all? And what psychological mechanism acts as the background of a behaviour? Our definition is that behaviour is activated freewill.

And what is freewill? Freewill is an aspect of the everlasting will identified through the process of quantitatively limited but qualitatively random reference, or freedom. The circle of freedom, or identity, emerging as the “I”, the most complete and most basic psychological entity, is, therefore, a reference or energized mental pointer, to itself. Thus the ever-present Will, or equilibrium Consciousness, produces an “I” by creating an abstract geometric point, so to say, which may temporarily oppose the rules of equilibrium and thus make any reference, or choice.

So every individual makes a choice before doing anything. That choice may be subconscious or conscious. In this sense, leading means managing others’ choices.

But what does a choice involve? Delved deep, this topic leads one to the conclusion that making a choice involves all the simple as well as complex psychological and logical processes of the mind. A choice is the outcome of the interaction between the individual and the environment vis-a-vis the necessity of survival or emulation. But the choice that is made at a particular time in a particular situation is a function of (i.e., is dependent on) the range of active psychological freedom (assuming that freedom of desire or thought may not equal the freedom of choice, due to relevant unavoidable restrictions, and thus all types of freedom may not be active), quality of stored or tacit knowledge and the validity of inference. Obviously, the immediate outcome of the recurrent process of making choices is what is called learning. Thus learning is a psychological process containing logical outcomes motivated by completely psychological or survival-related goals. As a result, the outcome of the process of learning, that is knowledge, unifies both logic and psychology and exists by their harmonious cooperation.

Now, because choice is a function of knowledge, leadership involves the management of knowledge which is done by various types of training and initiations.

But, again, knowledge has different dimensions. For example, pure knowledge (a pattern of information, of epistemic input, that has not been used to make any behavioural choice) generative knowledge (knowledge that has been essentially subconsciously or unconsciously coalesced with one’s values, experiences, expectations and strategies and so produces behavioral choices) etc. can be identified on different dimensions. Knowledge produces actions or behavior only to the extent that it produces certain beliefs, or values. In other worlds, knowledge can produce a set of choices only by creating an external focus or reference of the freewill by way of organizing the emotions, which are nothing but streams of energy different in directions or motivations but identical with the energy of the freewill. Knowledge, in this process, creates a unity among various emotions by directing them toward the point of belief or purpose.

But one’s knowledge includes not only the related content and consciousness but also the method(s) used in acquiring it. As a result, for the sake of logical completeess, at any specific stage of psychological development, a person’s knowledge tends to from a logical field, which is a dynamic abstract entity tending to build up its own methods, storage mechanisms, and purposes, an evolutionary process reinforced by the purpose and outcome of the process. To be more specific, because knowledge creation is a product of learning, and because learning involves, among other things, conditioning a process of mental correlation between perception and (logical) information (i.e content of the knowledge), the method used to earn a knowledge tends to be colored by the success or failure of that knowledge.

Now the formulation and selection of a method is a consequence of the adaptive ability of the individual to his environment. It may not always be the case that an individual with sufficient knowledge of an aspect of the environment will necessarily be successful in using his knowledge to adapt to that environment. This is because how useful a knowledge will be for a particular individual depends on how efficient (which involves speed. i.e, the time dimension and the minimum waste of effort), effective (which involves the identification of the right knowledge for the right situation) and flexible (which involves the availability, of effective alternatives) he is in relating it to the external environment to achieve a particular goal. This ability, which is nothing but what is referred to by the generic term intelligence, determines the usefulness and success of a particular knowledge as far as a particular individual is concerned.

Therefore one cannot but conclude that managing people’s knowledge without managing the development of their intelligence may not bring results in all situations and times. Thus we must state that leading involves managing people’s intelligences.

Again, intelligence is of various types, each one relating the stored knowledge to the environment from a different angle and exposing a different dimension of the mind to external stimuli. There are situations where a particular type of intelligence may not have enough adaptive value, but where another type of intelligence may open the door to a new possibility, thus creating ample scope for knowledge creation and survival. Moreover, relating knowledge to the external stimuli only through a particular type of intelligence may cause a cognitive stagnation or vicious circle of knowledge trap. Such a semi-circular phenomenon thrives on a set of assumptions that may not hold true at a developed stage of the reality. Consequently, a paradigm shift may not be possible. This phenomenon, together with its other unavoidable consequences, necessitates the leader to make timely choices in managing different types of intelligences at different times of situations. Again, since people respond to external stimuli on the basis of the simultaneous interaction of their intelligences (assuming the concept of Multiple Intelligences is true) and values, which together form their personalities, leading, considered from an interpersonal relationship perspective, involves managing people’s personalities.

Knowledge, we may repeat, gets transformed into action only to the extent that it helps decision-making. There is often a huge gap between a logical conclusion and a decision. While the former is purely mathematical, the latter is essentially emotional, purpose-led, and values-directed. Through the acquisition of pure knowledge what one stores in his memory are some methods and logical conclusions stated as laws, rules, theories, and some concepts and constructs. These we refer to as epistemic inputs.

Epistemic inputs may not always produce decisions. This means that there may be a gap between the logical conclusions that someone draws and the decision that he makes in relation to a particular situation. This gap, which we call the assimilation gap, can be reduced by mobilizing knowledge through different psychological dimensions from the conscious down to the subconscious. Understandably, the less the assimilation gap of a certain type of knowledge, the more its potential for producing behavior, and vice versa. When choices are limited so as to eliminate alternatives, what results is called a decision. Hence we can further modify our conclusion that leading involves the mobilization of knowledge through different psychological dimensions in order to reduce the assimilation gap related to it.

Now why does an assimilation gap develop? An assimilation gap may be observed when a person wants to apply the knowledge acquired through his or her information-processing ability (that is, a pure knowledge as epistemic input as opposed to conditioned knowledge or other forms of generative knowledge).

Thought produces action only when it produces valued understanding, not only logical understanding. While only a logical or symbolic meaning is related to the latter, the former involves a decision to accept a meaning, which follows a belief that the acceptance of the meaning will serve the individual’s goal or benefit him or will simply be worth the effort. But here, again, acceptance is not a logical phenomenon but a psychological activity which at its primary level involves simply ignoring the assimilation gap and concentrating on the belief (of getting the expected reward, which may be extrinsic or intrinsic) through activated emotions. Therefore, for a thought to be translated into behaviour, it must be assimilated or absorbed or internalized by releasing the required amount of energy as knowledge from the conscious to the subconscious through motivated behaviour. This should be done because humans’ active mode of emotions with regard to a particular stimulus ¾ external or internal ¾ is, at any specific moment, conditioned in a certain way. This inertia, or emotional assumption, so to say, can be broken only by disrupting the energy pattern that holds the related knowledge and emotions, that is, by the active substitution, of it by another energy pattern programmed in the required form of generative knowledge. Thus it becomes instructive for the leader that he help his people assimilate the necessary ideas and thoughts by various action programmes which will result in active substitution of old beliefs by new ones. Thus we see that leading means managing people’s concentration at the subconscious level.




Author of:

Secret Knowledge of the Qur'an