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

Read more

Add Comment

Go back


Related content

"Profile of Vladimir Putin"

Vladimir Putin, CEO of Russia Inc.

This paper compares Russian President Vladimir Putin to effective business executives, studying his performance through the same lenses used to assess CEOs of large corporations, and reviewing the degree to which his various constituencies are satisfied with his performance.

Published on 6 May, 2005

"How to groom organisa- tional stars"

Reaching Stardom: How to Identify and Develop Top Performers

This working paper addresses nascent stars: What makes those that turn into butterflies so special? What makes them so successful? What are the qualities that turn them into top performers?

Published on 5 Jul, 2010

"Profile of a group leadership coaching approach"

Leadership Coaching and Organizational Transformation: Effectiveness in a World of Paradoxes

This paper describes the unique leadership coaching approach which focuses not only on what is directly observable, but also on out-of-awareness behaviour.

Published on 1 Jul, 2008

"What do executives want out of life?"

The Many Colors of Success: What do Executives want out of Life?

This article is based on the responses of 160 senior executives to questions of what success means to them.

Published on 9 Jan, 2009

"Can forgiveness make us a better leader?"

The Art of Forgiveness

Published on 7 Jul, 2013

Coach and Couch: The Psychology of Making Better Leaders

Coach and Couch: The Psychology of Making Better Leaders

An edited volume of essays written by IGLC-INSEAD professors and leadership coaches, on diverse topics relevant to leadership development.

Published on 1 May, 2007

"Identifying and dealing with SOBs"

The Psychopath in the C-suite

This working paper explores ways of identifying and dealing with SOBs—Seductive Operational Bully—from an organisational and individual perspective, and recommends a clinical orientation to organisational diagnosis and intervention.

Published on 1 Jul, 2012

"Forgiveness and the art of reconciliation"

Forgiveness as a Business Tools


This blog entry explores the ability to forgive and the art of reconciliation.


Published on 8 Jul, 2013

Are Leaders Born or Are They Made: The Case of Alexander the Great

Are Leaders Born or Are They Made: The Case of Alexander the Great

This book is an easy-to-read overview of all the key events and people in Alexander the Great's extraordinary life, and provides lessons on effective leadership.

Published on 13 Oct, 2004

"Leadership by terror: Saddam Hussein"

Entering the Inner Theatre of a Despot: The Rise and Fall of Saddam Hussein

This working paper investigates leadership by terror, a form of leadership that is both an ageless phenomenon and a contemporary problem.

Published on 1 Apr, 2003