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5 MINUTES WITH ANNA ELIATAMBY: ‘I knew I wanted to study psychology when I was a teenager.’

February 01 2022

We’re excited to be working with clinical psychologist and workplace well-being expert Anna Eliatamby on the campaign for her new book, Healthy Leadership and Organisations: Beyond The Shadow Side. We asked Anna our 5 questions to find out more about her, her book, and her vision:


1. Pitch in 10 - sell us your book in less than 10 words

For real change, leaders must address the positive and negative.

2. Audience of One - If you could choose ONE person to read your book who would it be and why?

Audience of one: President Barack Obama

The aim is to help leaders and organisations, in any sector, acknowledge the need to look at the positive and golden and the shadow and negative which is often known about but rarely surfaced, acknowledged and tackled. It is a very massive audience base, but these problems are widespread.

There are descriptions of the psychology of golden behaviours, e.g. honesty and shadow, e.g. lying, bullying. The reader (individual or organisation) learns how to review their use of golden and shadow, preparedness for change and how to grow and develop. Expert voices from many sectors also provide useful perspectives.

3. Behind the Book - Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I have worked in many sectors from the private (co-facilitator for responsible leadership programmes for PwC), human services (NHS England), humanitarian services (Red Cross and Red Crescent and the UN). In each, regardless of my seniority and responsibility, I saw, and experienced, positive and negative behaviours demonstrated by junior and senior personnel. It was the negative that always had a greater impact and made it difficult to achieve the purpose of the organisation. It was necessary to anticipate that such behaviours would exist and that they would need to be tackled (sometimes subtly) to get the work done. Doing this was often very tiring, draining and those energies could have been better used elsewhere.

On retiring from the UN, I decided to do some work on this topic and write something. My early thinking steered me towards considering both the positive and negative aspects of behaviours as I felt this was necessary and rarely done, either in real life or in the literature. Looking at both is more likely to lead to a better balance between them and more chance for healthier leadership and organisations.

4. Guess what? Tell us one thing that readers might be surprised to hear about you.

Writing and collaborating on the book taught me a lot about my own approach to life and the golden and shadow sides. I was reminded of what is important to me, how I want to live my life and the value of history. Major influences were my great grandparents and my father.

My career has not been systematically planned except that I knew I wanted to study psychology when I was a teenager, and eventually become a clinical psychologist. I moved into leadership and the humanitarian sector by chance. For example, I was going to Sri Lanka to set up a sabbatical in December 2004 and the Asian Tsunamis happened. I still went, volunteered and that eventually led me to working with the UN.

5. The next chapter - what’s next for you?

I want to continue developing ideas from the book, to help people learn more how to build on their golden side and address the shadow parts in a comfortable yet challenging way.

I am very much enjoying writing and producing material and want to do more. I don’t want a full week.

Enjoying my freedom as a retired person is important, living without the need to use an alarm clock most days. I am re-connecting with good friends and family who I have missed. Another ambition is to increase my cooking skills and do some courses.


To get a review copy or to book in an interview, contact Teresa Richardson at Teresa.richardson@thebookpublicist.co.uk

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