A site for those with an interest in the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, past or present, and related subjects.
Charisma - Reflections
Posts : 1617
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 69
Location : New York, NY
|Subject: Charisma - Reflections Fri May 13, 2011 11:07 am|| |
So here is a new thread / topic on charisma. Below is an article to get the discussion going. Charisma is both seductive and widely misunderstood.
Published on Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals (http://www.jewishideas.org)
Charisma: A Note on the Dangerous Outer Boundary of Spirituality
By mdangel -Created 04/14/2011
For the past several years, I have contributed postings to a number of websites on the subject of the dangerously charismatic teacher in schools. The material was based on my book on Jewish school management that was published at the beginning of 2010. The section on the charismatic teacher was entitled “The Pied Piper.”’[i] 
Tragically, between the time that the section was originally written (in 2007) and the time the book was published, a former Jewish Studies teacher at our school was arrested on very serious charges of sexual molestation and assault. His alleged offences were committed in Israel. Following his arrest, an investigation in Toronto unearthed many issues of concern. He had exemplified many of the good and many of the bad characteristics of the charismatic teacher, especially one active in the religious life of the school. While in Toronto (as a shaliah) he had been immensely popular; had been idolized by students and by some staff; was a talented musician, much in demand locally as a singer at weddings and other community celebrations; and was also used by NCSY as a youth leader and resource. Many former students testified to the profound religious influence he had on their lives. Others—as it emerged—had far darker, tragic, and damaging memories.
The whole episode and its aftermath caused me many hours of reflection, and made me reconsider fundamentally many other encounters throughout my life with charismatic rabbis and teachers—in both personal and professional capacities. I concluded that although many good teachers and rabbis have elements of charisma in their personalities and style, the overtly charismatic personality almost always masks far more sinister agendas, and must be treated and managed with the utmost caution. The tipping point is wherethe personality of the teacher/rabbi is more important than the content of his message or teaching. Sadly, most readers of this article will be familiar with examples from within our own community, let alone examples from other educational and religious communities.
Where, though, are the boundaries? At what point does charisma become dangerous? In a community (and a wider world) where an elusive quality called “spirituality” is constantly sought as representing the “authentic” in the religious quest, how can the individual, or the community, or the responsible leader, distinguish the teacher with integrity from the predator?
It can be difficult; but there are some obvious danger signs. They may be present in different combinations, and seem to have some degree of overlap with recognized patterns of cult behavior, although they are rarely so blatant. They may include, but are not limited to:
The personality of the rabbi/teacher becomes the most important part of his presence, rather than the content of what he is teaching. When people go to a shiur, or a workshop, or a lesson, to see what “X” is doing or saying—rather than what “X” is teaching—a personality cult is in the making. The same applies when their conversation is about X’s latest action, or remark, or appearance—rather than X’s “Torah.” A truly spiritual personality, in a Jewish context, is concerned to bring people to God, not to himself (more rarely—herself).
Extreme emotional or pseudo-intellectual manipulations are being used to demonstrate that X, and only X, has “the answer.” A spiritually and intellectually honest teacher will rarely deal in absolutes.
The teachings and views of others—particularly rivals for the charismatic teacher’s popularity—are openly disparaged or undermined.
In an institutional or community setting, the followers of the charismatic rabbi/teacher become a group within a group. They do not mix with others, and see themselves as an elite.
Individuals or small groups regard themselves as favored protégés of the teacher. When they no longer uncritically accept the teacher’s philosophy or Torah, they are quickly dropped; disillusion—often accompanied by feelings of betrayal—sets in.
Counseling, advice and guidance are being given on deeply personal, perhaps intimate matters, far beyond the training and competence of the rabbi/teacher. The personalities we are describing will often invite such disclosures.
There is one clear sign that should immediately raise red flags:
The rabbi/teacher teaches, or shows by behavior, that he or she is exempt from the rules that apply to others. Mesmerized followers accept that “it”—whatever “it” is—is permissible or not problematic because the rabbi/teacher has special reasons, or a special argument, or special circumstances, or special authority, to justify the behavior. Often, there is an accompanying condition:
Don’t tell anyone about this, because no one else can understand.
This is most obvious in a sexual context, but any and every such instance is suspect. Are meetings and encounters taking place at times, places, and in circumstances that violate accepted norms and practices? Are improper communications passed between individuals? Are money, gifts, favors, special treatment being exchanged?
The sad list goes on. Unfortunately, in our community context, too many people who should know better willfully ignore such danger signs, arguing that the ends justify the means. The word “kiruv” frequently figures in such discussions. It takes a great deal of courage, and a great deal of conviction, to stand up against this type of activity.
We live in a time of extremes. Some of the religious leaders of our age have embarked on a battle against the world we live in. The argument that to be a loyal Jew (a “Torah Jew”) involves rejection of science and culture has to involve an emotional, not an intellectual position, and ipso facto it has to involve rejection—usually vehement rejection—of others. Parallel or analogous political positions and beliefs will generate similar behaviors. They all encourage extreme personalities. Tolerating, let alone encouraging, extreme personalities makes the group vulnerable to unhealthy influence and behavior.
We need charisma—it has an honorable history in leadership, certainly including models of Jewish leadership—but we need it to be combined with uncompromising, uncompromised, and comprehensive integrity. That integrity has to be religious, emotional, behavioral, and intellectual. But it is very difficult to be a charismatic moderate!
[i]The character of the Pied Piper remains a seductive and sinister figure in folklore. According to legend, in 1284 130 children mysteriously disappeared from the medieval German city of Hamelin (Hameln). A man dressed in colorful (“pied”) clothing, and playing a pipe mesmerized the city’s children with his music. Bewitched, and entirely under his control, they blindly followed him out of the city to an unknown destination, and were never seen again. (Also by playing his pipe, he had lured the rats that plagued the city to their deaths by drowning in the local river. The town council refused to pay him for his services. In an act of revenge, he worked his magic on the children.) The poet Robert Browning (1812–1889) immortalized the story in verse (“The Pied Piper of Hamelin”).
Paul Shaviv has been the Director of Education at TanenbaumCHAT, the
community high school of the Toronto Jewish community, since 1998. The
school is the largest Jewish high school in the Diaspora, with almost
1,500 students (G9-G12) on two campuses. He is originally from the UK,
and was educated at Cambridge and Oxford Universities. In 2010 he
published The Jewish High School: A Complete Management Guide. This
article appears in issue 9 of Conversations, the journal of the
Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
Posts : 554
Join date : 2010-06-27
Age : 65
Location : Vancouver
|Subject: Re: Charisma - Reflections Fri May 13, 2011 1:01 pm|| |
Ah.. the charisma play!
A very good topic for masters and students alike to study. Both sides should have some required reading often enough about this seductive friend to keep it front and center for personal examination.
Like all delusions I face, it exists because I have wanted it to exist.
Like most delusions I have to chew on, being mystified about my ego's girth requires forgetting that I am the one who keeps walking back to the buffet table.
Thanks for introducing it here.
Last edited by Howard on Fri May 13, 2011 3:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
Posts : 32
Join date : 2011-05-07
|Subject: Re: Charisma - Reflections Fri May 13, 2011 2:41 pm|| |
Hi Josh and Howard,
I was once part of a charismatic group led by a charismatic man of wide girth.
(I mention his size because it played a role in making him physically imposing and unforgettable since he wore a prominent wooden cross around his neck.)
I was a hippie wanna-be, on the young side, trailing behind my older new friends.
All of a sudden I had all these fascinating friends; I was part of a group.
Many of these young people were very likable; they were idealistic zealots and I tried to be like them.
I spent a couple seasons constantly visiting their commune in South Vancouver along the Fraser River and their coffee house in Gastown, in the downtown east side, a what you`d call these days, a ``sketchy`` neighbourhood. Gastown was in those days immerging as a hip shopping & hangout area of the city. I found it very stimulating to be around the area back in the days of our groups coffee house and commune. The groups`home was called, ``The House of Daniel``. We even had published a newspaper called, The Maranatha. We were supposed to sell the paper but our leader told us to go ahead and give it away; if people wanted to voluntarily pay for the paper then we could accept the money. One thing is our leader certainly was not greedy for money. He was deluded. One person in our group thought God had filled someones teeth, like a dentist! They believed in modern day miracles and so did I. ( I never believed that God filled anyones teeth though.) We sang songs over and over again, prayed for what seemed to me to be forever. The big house on South Marine Drive was so full, people had to sleep in shifts. God provided all the food for the house; it was all donations. Some churches began to visit on fact finding missions. Some churchs supported us and some thought we were on the road to hell! Every looked like a hippie and there were some bonafide hippies amongst us. Young people from overcrowded city hostils would descend upon The House of Daniel and made welcome.
It was a sad day when our leader was arrested and put in jail; he was charged with fraud and convicted. Without him the group quickly dissolved and people went in different directions. Many went to the churches which had supported The House of Daniel; I went along with that group.
Next thing I knew I was part of an Evangelical, Non-denominational Church.
I had even more friends now! I was literally intoxicated with religious zeal every time I attended this church or hung out with the former House and Daniel people.
I was prime cult material. An only child of alcholic parents raised by two sets of grandparents and farmed out to aunts & uncles on weekends. I was moody and quiet at the time and was looking to belong somewhere and to have friends.
This group suited my needs perfectly. I fell in love with a runaway boy a yr. older than me. This made it even more attractive to spend time at the coffee house where this boy was. The romance last a couple seasons, spring and summer but then ended with me having a broken heart since he told me he had decided to lead a celibate life and walk along a narrow road with no room for me by his side.
I was devasted! This coincided with the break up of the group and our leader going to prison. I slipped into a depression which lasted a yr.; I wore sunglasses all fall, winter, spring and summer, even in the house! My poor grandparents thought I was on drugs. I did not drink or take drugs at that time.
I continued on with the church for awhile after that but my bubble had burst and I began to see what was the reality of the situation. I began to question.
Along came the group known at that time as either The Jesus Peoples Army or The Children of God. I went to a few of their meetings. I saw some individuals from our former group become attracted to this new group in town. I tried to be open minded but this new group looked dangerous to me from the start. They were edgy, talked about sin a lot and about judgment day. They were militaristic with words instead of weapons. They ran a tight ship with a Boys House and a Girls House. There were lots of rules. I stepped back and ran the other way. Its a good thing I did this because I later learned some people I knew had joined this new group; they adopted a rather severe attitude of mind, rigid, unified, and ruled from the top, down. These former friends, mostly females with a couple married people, were completely absorbed by this cult. They were not allowed to see old friends or their families. I was lucky to get away from this one!
This is turning into more of an introduction than a discussion about charismatic teachers. It was not all grim; the leader of our hippie, Christian group ultimately grew up and quit leading people and began addressing his own issues, mainly his big ego which he openly admitted was a problem.
So this had a happy conclusion, not that there exists any constant conclusion; life moves fast & slow like a winding river, its always changing. Buddhism finally came along and made sense to me. Despite Shasta Abbeys own problems, (I never went there or felt part of the monk group) the basics of Buddhism were taught well by our local priest and I found peace in meditation and a manageable way to bring changes in myself in an ongoing way.
The charismatic leader from the Christian group I followed, gained insight into himself, got back with his wife and reunited with his 2 children. It turned out well for him and his family but his followers were not all so mentally or spiritually well after their group dissolved. Not everyone benefited from the group but, I think, overall, most people involved in this group came away with some truth, some good teaching about doing good for others and loving thy neighbour, compassion. Some people were damaged by the changes which took place and they took refuge in another cult, The Children of God.
I am grateful to have found good teaching in Buddhism by a Roshi, master teacher from Shasta Abbey. After many yrs. as a lay Buddist, I began to see the familiar signs of a group becoming a cult, I stepped back. Now I am not affiliated with any religious group. My feet did the walking; I have not said anything to our priest since leaving. He used to admit his faults and be very human, it was one of the things I most liked about him, he called them his clay feet. Later though it seemed to me things were heading in a direction I did not want to go or be part of. I can not really even verbalize this to myself, never mind to anyone else. The best I can do is to say I stepped back and became quiet. That is until I discovered this forum. Now I am beginning to understand what was going on in the background at Shasta Abbey and how RMTJ was also a charismatic leader with all kinds of problems which influenced the direction the monastary took. Like a gentler version of The Children of God, they became a group with people with various status; the monks, the lay ministers, the lay Buddhists, the elite at the top and so on. (I have learned from this site that not all here found their experience at Shasta Abbey so gentle.)
This was all familiar territory to me because I saw this in my Christian experience way back when. I will pause for breath now, with bows, Claire
luded into thinking God would provide for him and his group. He was a fantastic cook and a truly kind individual. Yet like all charismatic leaders, he had his demons, his dark side.
People would not have used the word, leader, when describing him. Every one referred to one another as brother and sisters. The leader ended up going broke, leaving his wife and two children, and being put in prison for fraud.
He was spending money he did not have and he eventually ran amuck with the law. He had a big ego and also a big heart. He taught many good practices such as being generous and non-judgmental. Jesus loved everyone and especially us!!
Posts : 1617
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 69
Location : New York, NY
|Subject: Re: Charisma - Reflections Fri May 13, 2011 2:55 pm|| |
Thanks for sharing your accounts, your journey. Your account addresses not only charismatic leaders, but also the enchantment of the group, and the enchantment of the grand story or mission.
One short note: the abbot saying he had "clay feet." When you aren't trying to be holier and grander than you are, you don't need to keep telling people you are "only human" or have "clay feet" or faults. I don't walk around saying that to anyone - and I am sure nearly everyone who posts here, it's the same thing. Obviously we are all human. What else could we possibly be?
By saying "I am only human" - you are actually emphasizing the opposite - that you are barely human or as close to perfection as imaginable. Saying these kinds of things are a kind of seduction.
Here is another piece I found on line, to add to the discussion.
The Ethics of Charismatic Leadership
Excerpted from The ethics of charismatic leadership by Jane M. Howell and Bruce J. Avolio, Academy of Management Executives,
1992, Vol. 6 No.2; and The Charismatic Leader as Narcissist by Daniel Sankowsky,
Organizational Dynamics, Spring 1995, Vol. 23, No. 4
(See also Conger and Kanungo's Charismatic Leadership: The Elusive Factor in Organizational Effectiveness)
According to prevailing theories, followers regard the charismatic leader as one or all of the following:
- Omnipotent (parent archetype); a leader who will nurture and guide them.
- Mystical (in touch with "higher truths"); a leader who knows the way and knows the answers.
- Heroic (perhaps derived from past achievements); a leader who can move mountains,
- Value-driven (concerned with the collective and able to empower it); a leader who's pure in spirit.
Today's environment emphasizes organizational learning and follower empowerment -- conditions that promote mutual respect and dialogue. However, even in this environment leaders can, sometimes unwittingly, enact subtle abuses. Generally included in the typical definition of power are the notions of dependency and control: a leader's ability to determine followers' behavior stems at least in part from the followers' dependency on the leader. This, in turn, is based on leaders' control over the various aspects of organizational life affecting followers or perceived as needed by followers, such as material resources and organizational advancement.
Symbolic status refers to a psychological phenomenon: the tendency for followers to tacitly regard leaders as parent figures, a tendency that becomes pronounced in the presence of charismatic leaders. Even unwitting abuse of this power can significantly undermine the followers' psychological well-being. Symbolic status has its origins in the concept of transference, which occurs when clients symbolize their therapists as parents.
Various management theorists suggest that transference inheres in the leader-follower relationship as well. This means there is a predisposition for followers to mentally construct their relationship with leaders on child-parent terms. Followers tend to be highly motivated to gain the leader's personal approval and are highly affected by the leader's actions and beliefs. The motivation and vulnerability described go beyond the present-based normal reactions to a leader. The power of symbolic status, rooted in unconscious drives, enhances a leader's potential to fundamentally alter followers' perceptions, emotions, and thoughts. Thus there are ways that leaders, even those who are otherwise well-intentioned, may abuse their power.
The management function associated with such control is communication. The attendant responsibility is the free exchange of clear and unbiased information and the granting of respect for the followers' views. The power of symbolic status is particularly susceptible to inadvertent abuse, because so much of what underlies it is tacit. For example, leaders may avoid their basic responsibility to promote professional development in followers, perhaps by denying a fair validation of followers' views, or denying them access to appropriate information, or failing to provide clear and unbiased information and feedback. Leaders must be responsible for taking the time and effort to assist followers' development. But more important, they should critically examine their own behaviors, especially in the light of negative signals from followers, investigating rather than blaming.
Charismatic leaders can achieve heroic feats (turn around ailing corporations, revitalize aging bureaucracies, or launch new enterprises) by:
- powerfully communicating a compelling vision of the future,
- passionately believing in their vision,
- relentlessly promoting their beliefs with boundless energy,
- propounding creative ideas,
- inspiring extraordinary performance in followers by:
(a) expressing confidence in followers' abilities to achieve high standards, and
(b) building followers' trust, faith, and belief in the leader.
The term charisma is value-neutral: it doesn't distinguish between good/moral and evil/immoral charismatic leadership. Charisma can lead to blind fanaticism in the service of megalomaniacs and dangerous values, or to heroic self-sacrifice in the service of a beneficial cause. Ethical charismatics develop creative, critical thinking in their followers, provide developmental opportunities, welcome positive and negative feedback, recognize the contributions of others, share information with followers, and have moral standards that emphasize collective interests of the group, organization, or society. The following key behaviors and moral standards further differentiate ethical from unethical charismatic leaders:
Unethical Charismatic Leader -- Uses power only for personal gain or impact; promotes own personal vision; censures critical or opposing views; demands that own decisions be accepted without question; one-way communication; insensitive to followers' needs; relies on convenient external moral standards to satisfy self-interests.
Ethical Charismatic Leader -- Uses power to serve others; aligns vision with followers' needs and aspirations; considers and learns from criticism; stimulates followers to think independently and to question the leader's view; uses open, two-way communication; coaches, develops, and supports followers; shares recognition with others; relies on internal moral standards to satisfy organizational and societal interests.
The double-edged sword of charismatic leadership is readily seen in the impact on followers. Ethical charismatic leaders convert followers into leaders. By expressing confidence in followers' abilities to accomplish collective goals and encouraging them to think on their own and question established ways of doing things, they create followers who are more capable of leading themselves. Followers feel independent, confident, powerful, and capable. They eventually take responsibility for their own actions, gain rewards through self-reinforcement and -- like their leader -- establish a set of internal standards to guide their actions and behavior.
Posts : 1617
Join date : 2010-11-13
Age : 69
Location : New York, NY
|Subject: Re: Charisma - Reflections Sun May 15, 2011 10:38 am|| |
These are some notes I found on the Harvard Business Review site. I realize that some of these will be, as they say, "much too much information" for some folks, but only read this if you find it useful in some way, if it helps you understand more about Kennett or any of the other "masters" in the OBC.
Narcissistic Leaders: The Incredible Pros, the Inevitable Cons
Today's business leaders maintain a markedly higher profile than did their predecessors of previous generations. A growing need for visionary and charismatic leadership has brought to the fore executives of a personality type psychologists call "narcissistic." That is both good and bad news, says psychoanalyst, anthropologist, and consultant Michael Maccoby. In this excerpt from his article in the Harvard Business Review, he tells how productive narcissistic leaders can avoid the pitfalls and make the most of their personalities.
by Michael Maccoby
There is very little business literature that tells narcissistic leaders how to avoid the pitfalls. There are two reasons for this. First, relatively few narcissistic leaders are interested in looking inward. And second, psychoanalysts don't usually get close enough to them, especially in the workplace, to write about them. (The noted psychoanalyst Harry Levinson is an exception.) As a result, advice on leadership focuses on obsessives, which explains why so much of it is about creating teamwork and being more receptive to subordinates. But as we've already seen, this literature is of little interest to narcissists, nor is it likely to help subordinates understand their narcissistic leaders. The absence of managerial literature on narcissistic leaders doesn't mean that it is impossible to devise strategies for dealing with narcissism. In the course of a long career counseling CEOs, I have identified three basic ways in which productive narcissists can avoid the traps of their own personality.
Find a trusted sidekick. Many narcissists can develop a close relationship with one person, a sidekick who acts as an anchor, keeping the narcissistic partner grounded. However, given that narcissistic leaders trust only their own insights and view of reality, the sidekick has to understand the narcissistic leader and what he is trying to achieve. The narcissist must feel that this person, or in some cases persons, is practically an extension of himself. The sidekick must also be sensitive enough to manage the relationship. Don Quixote is a classic example of a narcissist who was out of touch with reality but who was constantly saved from disaster by his squire Sancho Panza. Not surprisingly, many narcissistic leaders rely heavily on their spouses, the people they are closest to. But dependence on spouses can be risky, because they may further isolate the narcissistic leader from his company by supporting his grandiosity and feeding his paranoia. I once knew a CEO in this kind of relationship with his spouse. He took to accusing loyal subordinates of plotting against him just because they ventured a few criticisms of his ideas.
It is much better for a narcissistic leader to choose a colleague as his sidekick. Good sidekicks are able to point out the operational requirements of the narcissistic leader's vision and keep him rooted in reality. The best sidekicks are usually productive obsessives. Gyllenhammar, for instance, was most effective at Volvo when he had an obsessive COO, HÃ¥kan Frisinger, to focus on improving quality and cost, as well as an obsessive HR director, Berth JÃ¶nsson, to implement his vision. Similarly, Bill Gates can think about the future from the stratosphere because Steve Ballmer, a tough obsessive president, keeps the show on the road. At Oracle, CEO Larry Ellison can afford to miss key meetings and spend time on his boat contemplating a future without PCs because he has a productive obsessive COO in Ray Lane to run the company for him. But the job of sidekick entails more than just executing the leader's ideas. The sidekick also has to get his leader to accept new ideas. To do this, he must be able to show the leader how the new ideas fit with his views and serve his interests.
Indoctrinate the organization. The narcissistic CEO wants all his subordinates to think the way he does about the business. Productive narcissists—people who often have a dash of the obsessive personality—are good at converting people to their point of view. One of the most successful at this is GE's Jack Welch. Welch uses toughness to build a corporate culture and to implement a daring business strategy, including the buying and selling of scores of companies. Unlike other narcissistic leaders such as Gates, Grove, and Ellison, who have transformed industries with new products, Welch was able to transform his industry by focusing on execution and pushing companies to the limits of quality and efficiency, bumping up revenues and wringing out costs. In order to do so, Welch hammers out a huge corporate culture in his own image—a culture that provides impressive rewards for senior managers and shareholders.
Welch's approach to culture building is widely misunderstood. Many observers, notably Noel Tichy in The Leadership Engine, argue that Welch forms his company's leadership culture through teaching. But Welch's "teaching" involves a personal ideology that he indoctrinates into GE managers through speeches, memos, and confrontations. Rather than create a dialogue, Welch makes pronouncements (either be the number one or two company in your market or get out), and he institutes programs (such as Six Sigma quality) that become the GE party line. Welch's strategy has been extremely effective. GE managers must either internalize his vision, or they must leave. Clearly, this is incentive learning with a vengeance. I would even go so far as to call Welch's teaching brainwashing. But Welch does have the rare insight and know-how to achieve what all narcissistic business leaders are trying to do—namely, get the organization to identify with them, to think the way they do, and to become the living embodiment of their companies.
Get into analysis. Narcissists are often more interested in controlling others than in knowing and disciplining themselves. That's why, with very few exceptions, even productive narcissists do not want to explore their personalities with the help of insight therapies such as psychoanalysis. Yet since Heinz Kohut, there has been a radical shift in psychoanalytic thinking about what can be done to help narcissists work through their rage, alienation, and grandiosity. Indeed, if they can be persuaded to undergo therapy, narcissistic leaders can use tools such as psychoanalysis to overcome vital character flaws.
Consider the case of one exceptional narcissistic CEO who asked me to help him understand why he so often lost his temper with subordinates. He lived far from my home city, and so the therapy was sporadic and very unorthodox. Yet he kept a journal of his dreams, which we interpreted together either by phone or when we met. Our analysis uncovered painful feelings of being unappreciated that went back to his inability to impress a cold father. He came to realize that he demanded an unreasonable amount of praise and that when he felt unappreciated by his subordinates, he became furious. Once he understood that, he was able to recognize his narcissism and even laugh about it. In the middle of our work, he even announced to his top team that I was psychoanalyzing him and asked them what they thought of that. After a pregnant pause, one executive vice president piped up, "Whatever you're doing, you should keep doing it, because you don't get so angry anymore." Instead of being trapped by narcissistic rage, this CEO was learning how to express his concerns constructively.
Leaders who can work on themselves in that way tend to be the most productive narcissists. In addition to being self-reflective, they are also likely to be open, likable, and good-humored. Productive narcissists have perspective; they are able to detach themselves and laugh at their irrational needs. Although serious about achieving their goals, they are also playful. As leaders, they are aware of being performers. A sense of humor helps them maintain enough perspective and humility to keep on learning.
· · · ·
Excerpted from the article "Narcissistic Leaders: The Incredible Pros, the Inevitable Cons" in the Harvard Business Review, January-February 2000.
[ Order the full article ]
Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and a psychoanalyst. He is also the founder and president of the Maccoby Group, a management consultancy in Wahsington, DC. The former director of the Program on Technology, Public Policy, and Human Development in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Maccoby is the author of The Leader: A New Face for American Management (Simon and Schuster, 1981), The Gamesmen: The New Corporate Leaders(Simon & Schuster, 1977), and Why Work? Motivating the New Workforce (Second Edition, Miles River Press, 1995).
The Narcissistic Personality
Narcissists, one of three personality types identified by Sigmund Freud, have often emerged to lead and inspire people in the military, religious and political arenas, says Michael Maccoby. Business, too, has had its share of narcissistic leaders, especially at times, like the early 20th century, "when business became the engine of social change...[and] men like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford exploited new technologies and restructured American industry."
The period from the 1950s through the 1980s, by contrast, was characterized by business leaders who shunned the limelight. Only recently have narcissistic leaders—the likes of Microsoft's Bill Gates, Intel's Andy Grove, Apple's Steve Jobs, Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos and GE's Jack Welch—taken their place again as the leaders of large corporations and familiar faces on the nation's stage.
Narcissists bring plusses and minuses to their roles as leaders, says Maccoby. On the plus side, they bring great vision, an ability to see the big picture and, as a result, the opportunity to change the very rules of the game. They are also especially gifted in attracting followers, usually through skillful use of language, though charisma, adds Maccoby, is a double-edged sword. On the minus side, narcissistic leaders can be poor listeners, sensitive to criticism, lacking in empathy and "relentless and ruthless in their pursuit of victory."
To make the most of who they are—and to be productive leaders, says Maccoby,—narcissists must recognize their potential shortcomings and work to avoid the traps of their own personalities.
Posts : 32
Join date : 2011-05-07
|Subject: Re: Charisma - Reflections Mon May 16, 2011 4:55 am|| |
ps. thought I should apologize for the mistake of unintended addition at the end of my last post. I thought maybe it was unnecessary so I intended to edit it out. My computer had different ideas though; while I was writing, the pg. kept moving up and then down, jumbling things up. I thought I had de- jumbled it but apparently not!
Oh well, I'm not perfect. Let it be known far and wide! I'm not more perfect than my friend whom I've written about and referred to as, "our leader". (He has departed so it's not as if he will object to anything I've said.) I owe his family a debt of love & gratitude. I don't think he saw himself as, "our leader" but he was the one who rented the big house for many of the group to live in. He was the one who rented the space for the coffee house in Gastown as well. I think many thought of him as our mentor, leader of sorts. He was a fatherly figure. Bye from Claire
|Subject: Re: Charisma - Reflections || |
Charisma - Reflections