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.

"Advice for dealing with narcissists"

How to manage a narcissist

Managing a narcissistic leader is not easy. Why would they ask for help, when they think that they are better than anybody else? How can they learn from mistakes if they can’t admit that they’ve ever made one? This article provides some advise for managers who have to deal with such leaders.

HBR, May 2017

Blogs

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"Donald Trump’s new American brand is a cautionary tale for all leaders."

Lessons Learned from the Return of the Ugly American

A leader’s image can become almost inseparable from the organisation he or she leads. Consumers’ perception of companies is often influenced by corporate leaders’ actions and what they communicate. Donald Trump is epitomising the “Ugly American”.

INSEAD Knowledge, Apr 2017

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"Malignant narcissist as ticking time bombs"

Malignant Manipulators: Ticking Time Bombs

Malignant narcissists not only believe they are always right, they vindictively go out on a limb to prove it.

INSEAD Knowledge, Mar 2017

Blogs

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Telling Fairy Tales in the Boardroom: How to Make Sure Your Organization Lives Happily Ever After (리더는어떻게평면표지 translated into Korean)

Telling Fairy Tales in the Boardroom: How to Make Sure Your Organization Lives Happily Ever After (리더는어떻게평면표지 translated into Korean)

We know where we are with a fairy story. There is a cast of predictable characters, the hero or heroine is submitted to terrible trials, cruelty, and injustice but in the end the baddies get their comeuppance, good triumphs, and everyone lives happily ever after. In this book Manfred Kets de Vries, one of the world's leading authorities on the psychology of leadership, and a pioneering practitioner in the field of psychodynamic executive coaching, draws on the format of traditional fairy tales and tells us five stories that dramatize five key themes of dysfunctional leadership. Now available in Korean 리더는어떻게평면표지, Doublebook, Seoul, Republic of Korea, March 2017.

Doublebook, Seoul, Republic of Korea, Mar 2017

Books

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"Leadership lessons from a tumultuous time"

What Leaders Can Learn From the Rise of the Outsider

Times of change and distrust create challenges and some valuable lessons for leaders.
 

INSEAD Knowledge, Dec 2016

Blogs

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"Ways to Manage Difficult Bosses"

What to Do When You Hate Your Boss?

This article explores the options available to anyone who has to manage a bad boss. Much of it will feel like common sense. But people often forget that it’s in their power to improve bad situations, so having the options systematically laid out can be very helpful.

HBR, Dec 2016

Blogs

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"The tragedy of the commons"

The EU Cannot Be at the Mercy of the Few

A small group of farmers blocking an important trade agreement highlights the EU’s vulnerability to the “tragedy of the commons”.

INSEAD Knowledge, Oct 2016

Blogs

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"A large chair doesn’t make a king"

Lessons in Destructive Leadership from Africa

Africa is a cautionary example of the need for checks and balances against the abuse of power.

INSEAD Knowledge, Oct 2016

Blogs

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"Harems and fawning power plays"

Leadership “Harem” Style

When there’s no specific goal or role for its members, and constructive discussion makes way for fawning power plays, executive teams become little more than harems for dysfunctional leaders.

INSEAD Knowledge, May 2016

Blogs

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"When drive and commitment are too much"

Are You an Alpha Male Leader?

This blog looks at the place for alpha-like behaviour in organisations. It argues that the need the drive, competitiveness and commitment of such leaders should be balanced with models of leadership that connect, build and nurture.

INSEAD Knowledge, Mar 2016

Blogs

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"Denialism, office politics, productivity"

Blinded by Belief

This blog entry with the Harvard Business Review explores how denialists can have a devastating effect on office politics and productivity.

INSEAD Knowledge, Aug 2015

Blogs

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"The uses of humour in the workplace"

The Dark Side of a Funny Situation

This blog looks at the sources of humor and to distunguish between humour that is congenial and empathetic and humour that is dysfunctional and divisive.

INSEAD Knowledge, Jun 2015

Blogs

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"Fairy tales for today’s executives"

Leadership Lessons from the Brothers Grimm

This blog looks at the leadership journey as a fairy tale and cautions against the five deadly dangers of leadership.

INSEAD Knowledge, May 2015

Blogs

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"The pathology of CEO psychopaths"

Zeitbomben mit Schlips

The percentage of psychopaths amongst CEOs is as high as the risk they represent for the company they are working for. INSEAD Distinguished Professor of Leadership Development and Organisational Change Manfred Kets de Vries’ research talks to Heiner Thorborg of Der Spiegel on the topic. – In German

Der Speigel, Apr 2015

Interviews

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"Learning to manage in the gray zone"

The Importance of Seeing the World in Shades of Grey

This blog argues that executives who see the world in stark contrasts miss the nuances of situations and are less able to compromise to meet common interests.

INSEAD Knowledge, Apr 2015

Blogs

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"Managing those who won't see the middle ground"

How to Manage Someone Who Can't Handle Ambiguity

This blog entry for the Harvard Business Review explores how one can manage leaders who see things in black and white, unable to accept a middle ground.

Harvard Business Review, Mar 2015

Blogs

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"Fairy tales for today’s executives"

Fairy Tales for Executives: Story Telling as a Catalyst for Change

This working paper looks at how fairy tales—when applied to the realm of executive leadership—act as a shortcut to moral lessons, illustrating the dangers of leadership and various ways in which executives can derail.

INSEAD Working Paper, Mar 2015

Working Papers

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"Turning high potentials to star performers"

Who are the Stars?

This blog discusses the qualities that turn high potentials into top performers.

INSEAD Knowledge, Dec 2014

Blogs

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"SOB effect on org life"

The Psycho-path to Disaster: Coping with SOB Executives

This article describes the SOB—Seductive Operational Bully—or psychopath “lite”, in organisational settings, who can wreak havoc on organisational life.

Organizational Dynamics, Oct 2014

Articles

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"Unhealthy dependencies prevent leaders from reaching their full potential"

Mentor or Martyr? Beware the Rescuer Trap

In this article for Human Capital Review, Kets de Vries explores the Rescuer Syndrome—where the need to help becomes a self-serving addiction and—which creates an unhealthy state of dependency and prevents leaders from reaching their full potential.

Human Capital Review, Jun 2014

Articles

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"The inner compass of leaders"

When the inner compass of the leader falters

This blog entry addresses what can be done when the inner compass of a leader stops pointing to the pure North.

Simon Sijbrands, Apr 2014

Blogs

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"Four pathologies that can cripple leaders"

Coaching the Toxic Leader

This blog entry with the Harvard Business Review explores four pathologies that can cripple an executive and bring misery to the workplace, and what to do about them.

Harvard Business Review, Apr 2014

Blogs

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Helping a Bipolar Leader

Helping a Bipolar Leader

This blog entry with the Harvard Business Review explore the manic-depressive leaders, who are great in a crisis, but overestimating their capabilities can try to do more than they can handle.

Harvard Business Review, Mar 2014

Blogs

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"Complexity of the mental models of the leaders"

Why teams and individuals get stuck in their development

This blog entry discusses the underlying cause of the gap between the complexity of the mental model of the leader and the complexity of the world surrounding him/her.

Simon Sijbrands, Mar 2014

Blogs

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"High-flyers and the fear of success"

Are You Too Afraid to Succeed?

This blog entry with the Harvard Business Review address the fear of success and its consequences.

Harvard Business Review, Mar 2014

Blogs

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