1st Edition

The Saboteur at Work How the Unconscious Mind Can Sabotage Ourselves, Our Organisations and Society

By Michael Drayton Copyright 2023
    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    192 Pages
    by Routledge

    The Saboteur at Work describes how unconscious psychological processes can sabotage individual lives, the functioning of groups, teams and organisations, and even global politics.

    Drawing on research in the fields of psychology and organisations, this comprehensive yet straightforward and accessible book enables you to understand how the unconscious can impact progress and performance and describes practical techniques you can use to overcome the saboteur, individually and at work. The book discusses the modern understanding of our adaptive unconscious, and you will learn about repression, imposter syndrome and other defence mechanisms. Ideas are brought to life using real-world examples and personal, organisational and national stories. The book explores the mind’s capacity for self-deception by telling the story of Tony Blair and the invasion of Iraq and looks at unconscious processes in organisations, asking what role the saboteur played in huge corporate failures such as the collapse of Barings Bank and the Boeing 737 Max scandal. The saboteur also operates on a larger scale – governments and societies can be sabotaged by this unconscious force. In Nazi Germany, how did normal, decent people behave like monsters, colluding with or actively participating in the murder of innocent people? Why did big US corporates like IBM, Ford and Chrysler work with the Nazis to make the Holocaust possible?

    If you manage a team or lead an organisation, you need to understand the role played by the saboteur in your workplace and in your own career and life. This book enables leaders and managers to develop their leadership skills by understanding how the unconscious impacts individual, group and social processes. It will also be of use to coaches and organisational consultants working in the areas of teams and performance.

    Introduction   1. Our Own Worst Enemy: What Is Self-sabotage?  2. The Dark Cellar: The Unconscious from Freud to the Adaptive Unconscious  3. Why You Think You’re Right, Even When You’re Wrong: Denial and Other Ways the Saboteur Distorts Reality  4. The Over-sensitive Burglar Alarm: Stress and the Saboteur  5. The Stories We Tell Ourselves  6. The Saboteur in the System  7. The Saboteur in the Team  8. Global Saboteurs: Self-destructive Societies  9. Learning to Manage Your Saboteur  10. Managing the Saboteur at Work   Conclusion: Knowledge Is Power


    Michael Drayton is an executive coach, organisational consultant and clinical psychologist. He is an expert in leadership, resilience and mental health at work. He is an Executive Coach on the Executive MBA programme at Said Business School (University of Oxford) and a Fellow of the Cabinet Office Emergency Planning College.

    "Do you want to know why zebras don't get ulcers? Or, more seriously, how we tackle (self-) sabotage in organisations? Then this book has the essential answers to these questions. The Saboteur at Work couldn't be more timely as we live in a society with increasing challenges and stresses. Dr Drayton provides insights into themes we all need to address to keep ourselves and society safer from (self) saboteurs. He has the most captivating, vivid writing style, combining practical experience and science, historical and recent examples, including stories of success and catastrophe. A key piece of work for individuals and organisations alike."

    Elsine Van Os, Founder and CEO, Signpost Six

    "The Saboteur at Work is a significant contribution to our understanding of how unconscious psychological processes can sabotage leadership, organisational behaviour and global politics. It’s well written and researched, with stories that bring the research to life. The book is an interesting, absorbing and profound exploration of the unconscious in organisational and leadership behaviour."

    Professor Sue Dopson, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Said Business School, University of Oxford

    "A must read for anyone managing a team or striving to improve individual performance in the workplace. The Saboteur at Work brings to light the unconscious psychological processes that can obstruct our individual lives and impact our careers. Most importantly, Dr Drayton provides practical solutions to overcome these. Highly recommended!"

    Ryan Wynch, Global Head of Occupational Health, Novartis

    "This book could not have come at a better time, when individuals, groups and organisations seem to be imploding psychologically all around us. I love the way Mike moves from story or small detail to analysis. It reminds me of Erich Auerbach’s classic work Mimesis. Drawing on dozens of psychologists, novelists and poets, the arguments build up magisterially, each chapter concluding with incredibly useful takeaways. It is also a deeply personal story, and brilliant on the stories we tell ourselves. Having a great interest in Alan Turing, I was delighted to see Bletchley Park as a positive organisational example at the conclusion. How could one resist turning the next page after an early line such as ‘I will also explain why zebras don’t get ulcers’?"

    Michael Gates, Managing Director CrossCulture, and Associate Fellow, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford