Working papers

The Art of Forgiveness: Differentiating Transformational Leaders (2013)

Manfred Kets de Vries

"Forgiveness as a business tool"

This working paper explores the subject of forgiveness and its importance in the context of leadership. Forgiveness is one of the factors that differentiates exceptional from mediocre or ineffective leadership. When leaders forgive, they dissipate built-up anger, bitterness and the animosity that can color individual, team, and organizational functioning. The journey toward forgiveness and its various stages is explored, and pseudo-forgiveness described, with a warning that forgiving doesn’t imply merely forgetting. The mental and physical costs of a non-forgiving Weltanschauung are discussed, and suggestions are made for how to become more forgiving, a process wherein self-reflection, self-understanding, and self-expression take a central position.

INSEAD Working Paper, 2013

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