Wednesday, April 13, 2011

KETS DE VRIES Manfred F. R., BALAZS Katharina
The Shadow Side of Leadership in The SAGE Handbook of Leadership Bryman, A., Collinson, Grint, K., D., Jackson, B and Uhl-Bien, M (Eds.), Sage (2011) 380-392

There is a persistent view that a perfect business model exists. In this model, the business is managed by a “logical, rational leader”. However, while there is a rational element to the actions of senior executives, “even the best leaders may be driven by motives that are less sensible and obvious than they seem”. For instance, ideally a leader’s vision should be congruent with the reality of the business environment, “but in many cases that is not the case”. Instead, clinical investigation shows that there are usually deeply rooted causes for a specific outlook. Such causes are driven and influenced by “a very strong, vivid inner theatre” and it is this which drives them to “externalize private motives and present them on a public stage”. The clinical approach taken by Kets de Vries is based on the understanding that all behaviour is somehow determined; that there is such a thing as the unconscious; and that patterns of behaviour from the past strongly influence current and future behaviours.
Narcissism and Leadership: An Object Relations Perspective in The Sage Handbook of Leadership Bryman, A., Collinson, Grint, K., D., Jackson, B and Uhl-Bien, M (Eds.), Sage (2011)
That the organizational man or woman is not just a conscious, highly focused maximizing machine of pleasures and pains, but also a person subject to many (often contradictory) wishes, fantasies, conflicts, defensive behaviors, and anxieties – some conscious, others beyond consciousness – is not a popular perspective. Unfortunately, too many executives believe that behavior in organizations concerns only conscious, mechanistic, predictable, obvious, easy-to-understand phenomena. The more elusive processes that take place in organizations are conveniently ignored. However, like it or not, abnormal behavior – both inside and outside the organization – is more ‘normal’ than most people are prepared to admit. All of us have a neurotic side, which we do not leave at the door once we enter our workplace. Even the most successful organizational leaders are prone to highly irrational behavior, a reality that we ignore at own peril. Far too many well-intentioned and well thought- out plans derail daily in workplaces around the world because of out-of-awareness forces that influence behavior. And, given the plethora of highly destructive actions taken by business and political leaders (bankers in particularly), it should be clear that many of these incomprehensible activities (‘incomprehensible’ from a conventional rational point of view, that is) signal that what really goes on in organizations takes place in the intra-psychic and interpersonal world of the key players, below the surface of day-to-day behaviors. If we want to understand what leadership really is about, we need to look into that underlying mental activity and behavior, and explore its underlying causes: the conflicts, defensive behaviors, tensions, and anxieties that influence human behavior.