Notes on leadership, management and the role of mentalization

Torben Heinskou*, Ulla Charlotte Beck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


This article argues for the relevance and meaning of mentalizing in leadership and management roles. The relations in organizations are multiple and vulnerable to failure and misunderstandings. A leader has to be both self-aware and aware of others and take into consideration that behind actions there are mental states, emotions and thoughts, wishes and needs. The concept of authority is central in organizational work and in leadership roles. The leader must be able to take relevant action and will be held responsible for it in the organization. In order to act and to understand the consequences it is crucial to have an open mind to oneself and to others. The theory and practice of mentalization can be helpful in understanding the construction of shared meaning in the organization. Reduced capacity to mentalize may be undermining change and the function of the work-group, and thus be inducing irrationality and deadlocks in the organization. Instead of that, mentalizing leadership can stimulate a potential space in the organization for new and non-rigid modes of experiencing.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychoanalytic Psychotherapy
VolumeLatest Articles
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • authority
  • group mentality
  • leadership
  • management
  • Mentalizing
  • organization
  • potential space

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