Dysfunctional Leadership

In addition to looking at the qualities of effective leadership, we also address the darker or shadow sides of leadership. Our research explores why leaders derail, interpersonal issues and unhealthy dynamics between leaders and followers as well as key traps leaders fall into.

"Peverse narcissists in the workplace"

Pervers narcissiques: quand votre chef cache un tyran

Manfred Kets de Vries comments on perverse narcissists in organisations.

L'Express, Feb 2014

Interviews

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"Managing the passive- aggressive leader"

Helping the Passive-Aggressive Executive

This blog entry with the Harvard Business Review discusses challenge of managing passive-aggressives.

Harvard Business Review, Feb 2014

Blogs

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"Death anxiety and succession issues"

Death and the Executive: Encounters with the “Stealth” Motivator

This article takes a clinical lens to explore death anxiety as a motivational force, how it affects behaviour in organisations, and how we metabolise the feelings death evokes.

INSEAD Working Paper, Feb 2014

Working Papers

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"Corporate genius and psychopaths"

Is Your Boss a Psychopath?

This blog entry with the Harvard Business Review. discusses the thin line between corporate genius and psychopaths.

Harvard Business Review, Jan 2014

Blogs

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"When mentoring becomes an unhealthy dependency"

Need for Reflection When a Helping Hand in the Workplace Goes Too Far

This article addresses how the desire to assist others can slide into a 'rescuer syndrome', in which the mentoring relationship becomes fraught with unhealthy dependency.

The National, Abu Dhabi, Nov 2013

Articles

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"Are you a mentor or a martyr?"

Mentor or Martyr? Beware The Rescuer Trap!

In this blog entry for Forbes, Manfred Kets de Vries discusses the differences between mentoring and martydom.

Forbes, Oct 2013

Blogs

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"Narcissistic leaders and organisational sustainability"

Ethics in Business—Where is the education for narcissistic leaders?

This article explores the narcissistic inclinations of leaders and how this could affect the soundness and sustainability of organisations.

InvestVine, Jul 2013

Articles

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"The victim syndrome in org contexts"

Are You a Victim of the Victim Syndrome?

This working paper explores the victim syndrome within an organisational context, and provides a checklist to identify people who are victims of it.

INSEAD Working Paper, Jul 2012

Working Papers

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"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.

INSEAD Working Paper, Jul 2012

Working Papers

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"Rescuer syndrome and excessive helping behavior"

Leadership Coaching and the Rescuer Syndrome: How to Manage both Sides of the Couch

In this article the author explores the problem of excessive helping behavior—The Rescuer Syndrome—with particular reference to executive coaching.

INSEAD Working Paper, Dec 2010

Working Papers

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"Abnormal is the norm in organisations"

The Shadow Side of Leadership

This article describes a number of dysfunctional leadership prototypes found in organisations. Offered as a useful form of shorthand for identification purposes, it helps us understand how we can deal with this dysfunction in ourselves or our leaders.

Human Capital Review, Sep 2009

Articles

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"Executive complexes regularly encountered in orgs"

Executive Complexes

This article explores the nature and origin of executive complexes and presents five complexes regularly encountered in organisational coaching and consulting work.

Organizational Dynamics, Dec 2007

Articles

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"Despotic regimes and dynamics of leadership by terror"

The Spirit of Despotism: Understanding the Tyrant Within

The objective of this article is to better understand the developmental history of despotic regimes and the existence of leadership by terror.

Human Relations, Nov 2006

Articles

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"Executive complexes in organisations"

Complex Executives I have Met in Coaching and Consulting

This working paper explores the nature and origin of complexes and then explores five complexes regularly encountered in organizational coaching and consulting work.

INSEAD Working Paper, May 2006

Working Papers

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Lessons on Leadership by Terror: Finding a Shaka Zulu in the Attic

Lessons on Leadership by Terror: Finding a Shaka Zulu in the Attic

This book takes us inside the despotic mind to understand what their actions are all about; to comprehend the source of their actions and to recognise the danger signs.

Edward Elgar, Aug 2005

Books

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Leaders, Fools, and Impostors

Leaders, Fools, and Impostors

In this book of insightful essays, Kets de Vries explodes the myth that rationality is what governs the behaviour of leaders and followers and provides a more realistic perspective on organisational functioning and the leader-follower relationship.

IUniverse, Aug 2003

Books

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"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.

INSEAD Working Paper, Apr 2003

Working Papers

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Struggling with the Demon: Perspectives on Individual and Organizational Irrationality

Struggling with the Demon: Perspectives on Individual and Organizational Irrationality

Struggling with the Demon examines the search for meaning in human activity and highlights the values that foster commitment and involvement and, ultimately, success.

Psychosocial Press, Jan 2001

Books

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"Two extreme styles of managerial personality"

Managing Puzzling Personalities: Navigating Between Live Volcanoes and Dead Fish

This article reviews the two extreme styles of managerial personality, which can be found in business life:  hypomanic and alexithymic, and describes their effects on organisational performance.

European Management Journal, Feb 1999

Articles

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De Menselijke Kant Van Reorganiseren

De Menselijke Kant Van Reorganiseren

In this book, individual reaction patterns to downsizing operations are explored in the victims, the survivors (those staying with an organization after layoffs) and the “executioners” (those responsible for the implementation of downsizing) involved in the process.

Management Briefing, Dec 1997

Books

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Unstable at the Top

Unstable at the Top

Unstable at the Top shows 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.

New American Library, Dec 1987

Books

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The Irrational Executive: Psychoanalytic Explorations in Management

The Irrational Executive: Psychoanalytic Explorations in Management

The Irrational Executive is a compilation to counter this bias in management theory. Focusing on unconscious as well as conscious internal processes, and strongly influenced by contemporary psychoanalytic theory, the contributors argue persuasively against the rationalist model.

International Universities Press, Nov 1984

Books

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The Neurotic Organization: Diagnosing and Changing Counterproductive Styles of Management

The Neurotic Organization: Diagnosing and Changing Counterproductive Styles of Management

This book offers an authoritative discussion of the irrational forces at work in organizations. It integrates psychiatric and psychology findings and insights with management and organizational behavior theory to reveal the underlying causes of many organizational problems.

Jossey-Bass, Aug 1984

Books

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"Eccentric organisational behaviour and folie à deux"

Managers Can Drive Their Subordinates Mad

This article describes the phenomenon called folie à deux—and how what we often term eccentric behaviour patterns of people in organisations might be better understood in that context.

Harvard Business Review, Jul 1979

Articles

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