Unstable at the Top (1987)

Manfred Kets de Vries, Danny Miller

Unstable at the Top

To those managers and employees who must deal daily with an upper-echelon executive’s impulsiveness, lethargy, paranoia, depression, or Napoleonic need for conquest, this eye-opening book could be a godsend. Here, two internationally renowned management consultants reveal how neurosis in the executive suite can weaken every link in the corporate chain of command – and drive a once thriving business to the brink of collapse. With fascinating real-life company and executive case studies – from J. Elgar Hoover and Henry Ford to United Airlines and the Disney Corporation – this bold business guide offers mid-to-upper level executives a positive prescription for stopping self-destructive tendencies before they can shake the corporate structure. Provocative and insightful, challenging and readable, this ground-breaking business guide may be the key to protecting your job, securing your company’s future, and saving your sanity.

Successful organizations frequently attribute their triumphs to the foresight, intelligence, and calculation of their executives. Problems, on the other hand, are blamed on carelessness, error, or plain stupidity. In truth, both these explanations – based as they are on the assumption that managers are perfectly rational beings – often miss the mark. They miss the mark because corporate executives, like the rest of us, are not always entirely rational beings. Executives may, like anyone else, be driven by powerful, entrenched emotions, by aspirations, or by fantasies that can dramatically, and seemingly irrationally, influence the way they run their companies day by day. How often have we seen the imprint of the top manager’s personality reflected in the strategies, structures, and cultures of his or her organization? And when the personality is unsettled, chances are the organization will be as well.

The aim of Unstable at the Top is to show just how certain aspects of a CEO’s personality can affect his managerial style and contribute to the decline – sometimes temporary, sometimes not – of his organization.

Note: This book is out of print.

New American Library, 1987

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