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The Leader on the Couch: A Clinical Approach to Changing People and Organizations

ISBN: 978-0-470-03079-0
436 pages
September 2006, Jossey-Bass
The Leader on the Couch: A Clinical Approach to Changing People and Organizations (0470030798) cover image


Despite the proven benefits of emotional intelligence, organizational life has typically been hostile to the inner world of feeling. Rationality is deemed superior to feeling, which can contaminate judgment. But without feeling there is no passion, and no action. This book sets out to change people and organizations for the better, by revealing the 'dark side' of leadership behaviour and its impact on performance. Tapping into the startling parallels between the journey to emotional intelligence, the process of psychoanalysis, the practice of leadership coaching and the Zen journey to enlightenment, renowned thinker Manfred Kets de Vries helps executives, consultants, and coaches to peel back the layers of self-deception and reveal how inner personality – largely hard-wired since early childhood – affects the way they lead and manage others.
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Table of Contents



About the Author.

1. Introduction: The Clinical Paradigm.


2. The Narcissistic Leader: Myth and Reality.

3. A Parade of Personalities.

4. Leaders and Followers: Moving Away from People.

5. Leaders and Followers: Moving Against People.

6. Elation and Its Vicissitudes.

7. The Impostor Syndrome: The Shadow Side of Success.


8. Can Leaders Change? Yes, But Only If They Want To.

9. Taking the Road Less Traveled.

10. Coach or Couch, Anybody?

11. Group Leadership Coaching.


12. The Unconscious Life of Groups and Organizations.

13. Unraveling the Mystery of Organizations.

14. Conclusion: Creating “Authentizotic” Organizations.


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Author Information

Recently awarded the Leadership Scholar of the Year prize by the International Leadership Association, Manfred Kets de Vries brings a different view to the much-studied subjects of leadership and the dynamics of individual and organizational change.
The Financial Times, Le Capital, Wirtschaftswoche and The Economist have judged Manfred one of the world’s leading thinkers on leadership.
A clinical professor of leadership, he is Chair of Leadership Development and director of INSEAD's Global Leadership Center. He is responsible for the top management seminar, The Challenge of Leadership: Creating Reflective Leaders and the program Consulting and Coaching for Change.
Manfred has received INSEAD's distinguished teacher award 5 times and has also held professorships at McGill University, Montreal, Harvard Business School and Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales.
Author, co-author or editor of over 22 books and over 200 articles, his work has featured regularly in The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Fortune and many other professional press publications.
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"One new book that does deserve praise" (Financial Times Career Point, September 2006)

"As Manfred Kets de Vries, a professor at Insead business school, shows in a new book, the psychological condition of leaders can have a profound impact on all those who work under them." (Financial Times, October 2006)

"Fascinating Freudian look at chief executives and their occasionally rather damaged psychologies. Read this ..." (FTmagazine, December 2006)

"...Manfred Kets de Vries, sets out to change people ... for the better by revealing the 'dark side' of leadership behaviour..." (Professional Consultancy, January 2007)

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