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Reflections on Character and Leadership: On the Couch with Manfred Kets de Vries

ISBN: 978-0-470-74242-6
366 pages
April 2009, Jossey-Bass
Reflections on Character and Leadership: On the Couch with Manfred Kets de Vries (0470742429) cover image
Reflections on Character and Leadership is the first of the three books in the Manfred kets de Vries on the Couch series.

Here, Kets de Vries looks at entrepreneurship, the pathology of leadership, and the personality of the leader. The reader will visit the disturbed inner worlds of leaders like Alexander the Great, Shaka Zulu and Robert Maxwell, discover how to distinguish between a cold fish and a live volcano, and identify impostors, despots, organizational fools and global leaders.

The book highlights the basic principles of the clinical paradigm—the process of putting organizations and the individuals who lead them on the psychoanalyst’s couch. It includes studies of personality archetypes and the effects they have on organizational life and culture—and the effects that organizations have on them. Referring frequently to key management concepts, Kets de Vries looks not only at what happens when things go wrong, but also at how to create the psychological and organizational space to make sure that things go right.

About the series:

The series offers an overview of Kets de Vries’s work spanning four decades, a period in which he has established himself as the leading figure in the clinical study of organizational leadership.

The books in this series contain a representative selection of Kets de Vries’ writings about leadership from a wide variety of published sources and cover character and leadership in a global context, career development and leadership in organizations. The original essays were all written or published between 1976 and 2008. Updated where appropriate and revised by the author, they present a digest of the work of one of the most influential management thinkers of the present day.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xiii

PREFACE xv

Psychoanalysis and organizational life xv

First case: an entrepreneur xix

The clinical paradigm xxi

About this book xxii

PART I: LEADERS, FOOLS, AND IMPOSTORS 1

INTRODUCTION 2

Playing the organizational fool 4

1 THE ENTREPRENEURIAL PERSONALITY 6

Introduction 6

Entrepreneurship: views from other disciplines 8

Common psychological themes in the entrepreneurial personality 10

The effects of family dynamics 17

Case study: The entrepreneur's story 18

Falling into extremes 22

The Medusa women 24

The meaning of work 26

Competition and self-defeating behavior 28

The symbolic nature of the enterprise 29

The process of change 31

The entrepreneurial life cycle 33

Working effectively with entrepreneurs 39

Endnotes 42

2 THE HYPOMANIC PERSONALITY 43

Introduction 43

The Dionysian quality of charismatic leadership 44

Case study: Hypomania in action 46

Elation and its vicissitudes 50

Managing a hypomanic 53

Hypomania in the workplace 55

Possible interventions 56

Self-help measures 58

The plus side for organizations 60

Endnotes 61

3 THE ALEXITHYMIC PERSONALITY 62

Introduction 62

The 'dead fish' syndrome 62

Identifying alexithymia 63

Alexithymia as a communication disorder 64

Where do the origins of alexithymia lie? 66

Degrees of alexithymia 68

Alexithymics in the workplace 69

The Alexithymic CEO 70

Working with an alexithymic manager 72

Managing an alexithymic 73

Searching for solutions 75

Endnote 78

4 THE IMPOSTOR SYNDROME 79

Introduction 79

What makes an impostor? 82

The creative artist as impostor 85

The impostor as national leader 86

The impostor: a character sketch 89

Case study: The impostor as entrepreneur 92

Endnote 97

5 NEUROTIC IMPOSTORS: FEELING LIKE A FAKE 98

Introduction 98

What creates imposturous feelings? 99

The neurotic impostor in the workplace 103

How the fear can become a reality 105

How neurotic impostors can impact on businesses 108

Finding solutions 109

Endnotes 111

6 THE ORGANIZATIONAL FOOL: BALANCING A LEADER’S HUBRIS 112

Introduction 112

The role of the fool 112

The fool as cultural hero 114

The benefi ts of humor 115

What makes a fool? 117

The organizational fool 117

The value of the fool 123

Endnote 123

PART II: THE PATHOLOGY OF LEADERSHIP 125

INTRODUCTION 126

7 PRISONERS OF LEADERSHIP 130

Introduction 130

Case study: The case of Robert Clark 131

Case study: The case of Frederick the Great 132

Externalizing inner confl icts 135

The search for authority 136

Regressive group processes 139

Case study: The case of Ted Howell 141

Distance and aggression in leaders 142

Managing leaders' behavior in organizations 143

Endnotes 145

8 THE SPIRIT OF DESPOTISM: UNDERSTANDING THE TYRANT WITHIN 146

Introduction 146

Setting the scene for tyranny 149

What motivates tyrants? 150

How tyrannies operate 150

How despotic regimes are maintained 152

The despot's toolbox 153

The economic costs of tyranny 158

The need for democracy 159

The dangers of power 160

Why despotism must be fought 161

Unjust deserts 163

Judicial remedy 163

The International Criminal Court 165

Endnote 166

9 LEADERSHIP BY TERROR: FINDING SHAKA ZULU IN THE ATTIC 167

Introduction 167

The life and death of an absolute despot 168

Deconstructing the despot's inner theater 171

The colluding mind 179

A tyranny of self-deception 183

Leaders and followers 186

Shaka's legacy 190

Endnote 191

PART III: TRANSFORMING LEADERSHIP 193

INTRODUCTION 194

10 'DOING AN ALEXANDER': LESSONS ON LEADERSHIP BY A MASTER CONQUEROR 198

Introduction 198

The life of Alexander 199

Alexander's legacy 205

Lessons in leadership à la Alexander 206

Conclusions 210

Endnote 210

11 LEADERS WHO MAKE A DIFFERENCE 211

Introduction 211

The effects of leaders on their organizations 212

Different leaders, same results 213

The architectural aspect of leadership 214

The charismatic role of leaders 223

Conclusions 226

Endnote 226

12 REAPING THE WHIRLWIND: MANAGING CREATIVE PEOPLE 227

Introduction 227

Characteristics of creative people 228

Stimulating creativity 230

Playing in a transitional world 231

Two roads to creativity 233

Creative management 236

Watching for the danger signs 240

Endnote 241

PART IV: LEADERSHIP IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT 243

INTRODUCTION 244

13 THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE LEADER WITHIN THE GLOBAL CORPORATION 247

Introduction 247

A case study in internationalization 248

Forms of global organizations 249

Qualities needed in global leaders 253

Training, transfer, teamwork, and travel 260

A framework for analyzing the development of the

global leader 262

Conclusions 263

Endnote 264

14 IN SEARCH OF THE NEW EUROPEAN BUSINESS LEADER 265

Introduction 265

The challenge of diversity 267

Internal and external competition 270

Is a single model possible? 271

A middle path 272

Dealing with change 273

The making of the European leader 275

Leadership in Europe and beyond 277

Endnote 278

15 LESSONS FROM THE 'WILD EAST': RUSSIAN CHARACTER AND LEADERSHIP 279

The Russian character 279

Contextual factors in the formation of the Russian character 282

Russia's transition: from cooperatives to capitalism 295

New leaders and new followers 296

Eight leadership lessons 300

Challenges for global Russian business leaders 302

The end of the beginning 305

Endnotes 305

CONCLUSION: CREATING HIGH-COMMITMENT ORGANIZATIONS 307

The future of organizations 307

Meta-values for great companies 308

Motivational need systems 309

Leaders and meta-value creation 313

Concluding comments 314

Endnote 315

REFERENCES 317

INDEX 333

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Manfred Kets de Vries brings a much-needed fresh perspective to the subjects of leadership and change, drawing on his knowledge of economics, management, psychology and psychoanalysis.
He is Clinical Professor of Leadership at INSEAD where he holds the Raoul de Vitry d'Avaucourt Chair of Leadership Development. He has also held professorships at McGill University, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales in Montreal and Harvard Business School, and has lectured at management institutions all over the world. He is the author, co-author, or editor of m ore than 30 books including The Leader on the Couch and Family Business on the Couch, and over 300 articles and papers.
In  November 2008, Manfred Kets de Vries was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Leadership Association in Los Angeles. He and six others were inducted into the leadership legacy project as "founding professionals of the development of leadership as a field and as a discipline." Previously, in 2005, he was the first non-American recipient of the ILA Leadership Award for his 'Contributions to the Classroom and to the boardroom." The Financial Times, Le Capital, Wirtschaftwoche and The Economist have also judged him one of the world's leading thinkers on leadership.
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