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 Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields

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PostSubject: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/16/2013, 9:12 am

Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters (Leadership for the Common Good) - by Barbara Kelleman

Publication Date: September 1, 2004 | ISBN-10: 1591391660 | ISBN-13: 978-1591391661

How is Saddam Hussein like Tony Blair? Or Kenneth Lay like Lou Gerstner? Answer: They are, or were, leaders. Many would argue that tyrants, corrupt CEOs, and other abusers of power and authority are not leaders at all--at least not as the word is currently used. But, according to Barbara Kellerman, this assumption is dangerously naive. A provocative departure from conventional thinking, Bad Leadership compels us to see leadership in its entirety. Kellerman argues that the dark side of leadership--from rigidity and callousness to corruption and cruelty--is not an aberration. Rather, bad leadership is as ubiquitous as it is insidious--and so must be more carefully examined and better understood. Drawing on high-profile, contemporary examples--from Mary Meeker to David Koresh, Bill Clinton to Radovan Karadzic, Al Dunlap to Leona Helmsley--Kellerman explores seven primary types of bad leadership and dissects why and how leaders cross the line from good to bad. The book also illuminates the critical role of followers, revealing how they collaborate with, and sometimes even cause, bad leadership. Daring and counterintuitive, Bad Leadership makes clear that we need to face the dark side to become better leaders and followers ourselves. Barbara Kellerman is research director of the Center for Public Leadership and a lecturer in public policy at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

From Publishers Weekly
"How," asks Kellerman, "will we ever stop what we refuse to see and study?" Research director of the Center for Public Leadership and lecturer in public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, Kellerman focuses in opening chapters on the nature of leadership, the rise of a "leadership industry," the complicit role of followers, the definition of bad leadership and reasons for its occurrence. Kellerman's style combines the direct prose of the boardroom with the erudition of the classroom; relevant citations abound, from Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes to Newsweek and Washington Monthly. Kellerman posits seven "types" of bad leadership and devotes a chapter containing a few brief examples and one detailed analysis to each. Drawing from the corporate, nonprofit, government and public opinion sectors, she examines instances of incompetence, rigidity, intemperance, callousness, corruption, insularity and even evil. Her focus isn't limited to individual behavior; context and the actions of followers are also considered. For example, the International Olympic Committee is faulted as much as its former president for scandals and commercialism that have sometimes undermined the games. High-level cabinet members, prominent legislators and the nation as a whole share the blame for the Clinton administration's failure to intervene in Rwanda's genocide. The stories, and Kellerman's final section of correctives, are complex and nuanced; there are no easy answers.

From Booklist
Bound for the top of the business best-sellers lists--at least in terms of the controversy it will generate--Harvard lecturer Kellerman's book argues cogently, compellingly, and with an amazing clarity for the identification of bad leadership and, then, for its removal. Too long has the concept of leadership been viewed only in shades of white within America--and, thus, too long have we denied the existence of bad leadership. Neither are followers excused, for they, too, have a real culpability, asserts Kellerman. Types fall into seven categories, either ineffective or unethical, and include incompetent, rigid, intemperate, callous, corrupt, insular, and evil. And for each, she selects one recent example on which to focus, in addition to minor players, from former Mattel CEO Jill Barad and Reverend Jesse Jackson to Jim Jones and Saddam Hussein. As any good academic problem solver, she lists those corrections necessary for leaders and followers to adopt. The real question is, Will this book be ignored? Hopefully not. Barbara Jacobs

Review on amazon.com - 5.0 out of 5 stars A View From the Dark Side September 20, 2004 - By John Matlock

We live in a time where the news is filled with countries, corporations, and other organizations that are failing to perform as they should. Ms. Kellerman has analyzed several of these and identified fundamental seven types of leadership that are prone to failure.

INCOMPETENT: The leader and at least some followers lack the will or skill to sustain effective action.

RIGID: The leader and at least some of his followers are stiff, unyielding, and unwilling to adapt to new ideas, new information or changing times.

Intemperate: The leader lacks self-control and is aided and abetted by followers who do not intervene.

CaALLOUS: The leader is uncaring or unkind, he ignores or discounts the needs of the rest of the organization.

CORRUPT: These people lie, cheat, or steal. They put self interest above all else.

INSULAR: They disregard or at least minimize the health and welfare of those outside the small center group.

EVIL: Some leaders and at least some followers commit atrocities.

In each of these categories, she identifies leaders that illustrate her point. This leads to an understanding of why such bad leadership is harmful to the organization, and if the organization is the political leadership of a country, it is bad for the world.
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/16/2013, 9:17 am

The Allure of Toxic Leaders: Why We Follow Destructive Bosses and Corrupt Politicians--and How We Can Survive Them  by Jean Lipman-Blumen

Publication Date: October 1, 2006 | ISBN-10: 0195312007 | ISBN-13: 978-0195312003

Toxic leaders, both political, like Slobodan Milosevic, and corporate, like Enron's Ken Lay, have always been with us, and many books have been written to explain what makes them tick. Here leadership scholar Jean Lipman-Blumen explains what makes the followers tick, exploring why people will tolerate--and remain loyal to--leaders who are destructive to their organizations, their employees, or their nations.

Why do we knowingly follow, seldom unseat, frequently prefer, and sometimes even create toxic leaders? Lipman-Blumen argues that these leaders appeal to our deepest needs, playing on our anxieties and fears, on our yearnings for security, high self-esteem, and significance, and on our desire for noble enterprises and immortality. She also explores how followers inadvertently keep themselves in line by a set of insidious control myths that they internalize. For example, the belief that the leader must necessarily be in a position to "know more" than the followers often stills their objections. In addition, outside forces--such as economic depressions, political upheavals, or a crisis in a company--can increase our anxiety and our longing for charismatic leaders. Lipman-Blumen shows how followers can learn critical lessons for the future and survive in the meantime. She discusses how to confront, reform, undermine, blow the whistle on, or oust a toxic leader. And she suggests how we can diminish our need for strong leaders, identify "reluctant leaders" among competent followers, and even nurture the leader within ourselves.

Toxic leaders charm, manipulate, mistreat, weaken, and ultimately devastate their followers. The Allure of Toxic Leaders tells us how to recognize these leaders before it's too late.

From Publishers Weekly
Lipman-Blumen, a professor of public policy and organizational behavior at Claremont Graduate University, examines the seemingly inexplicable reasons why many employees are loyal to CEOs and politicians who abuse power, cook finances and otherwise virtually destroy their companies. Among the book's conclusions: employees feeling uncertain over their own job security will remain loyal to a toxic executive. Furthermore, economic turmoil, political crisis or company problems sometimes enhance the toxic leader's appeal. Using insights based on a psychological approach, especially Maslow's theories of self-esteem, Lipman-Blumen (The Connective Edge) offers numerous examples in both politics and business of toxic leaders who have survived crises and received accolades despite their obvious flaws. By using names familiar to many readers—Rudolph Giuliani; the former mayor of Providence, R.I., Buddy Cianci—the author is likely to attract a wider audience than if she focused on business executives. The book's strength is the detailed psychological approach to examining the phenomenon of loyalty to toxic leaders. The last section discusses how employees can recognize the signs of toxic leadership, but it doesn't offer enough practical steps on how to challenge these leaders. Still, this is a solid look at a dismaying business trend.

"Easily one of the best leadership books of the 1990s was Ron Heifetz's Leadership Without Easy Answers. By explaining why followership is equally demanding, The Allure of Toxic Leaders is a perfect complement."--Financial Times

"This book certainly makes interesting election-year reading."--Minneapolis Star Tribune

"A remarkably comprehensive yet penetrating analysis that sees bad leadership both as morally wrong and psychologically dysfunctional, with practical strategies for reform. A sophisticated study that sees the problem as a failure of followership as well as leadership."--James MacGregor Burns

"It's a long, detailed, thoughtful essay, concentrating on followers and the predicaments they find themselves in with toxic leaders, and the various strategies they employ to extricate themselves. It's rewarding, but not easy, reading."--Globe & Mail

"I thought it was an absolutely brilliant book... I've read few books in my life that made me see things from a wholly new perspective. This was one of those very few."--Robert J. Sternberg, Yale University

"A solid look at a dismaying business trend.... Examines the seemingly inexplicable reasons why many employees are loyal to CEOs and politicians who abuse power, cook finances and otherwise virtually destroy their companies.... Offers numerous examples in both politics and business of toxic leaders who have survived crises and received accolades despite their obvious flaws.... The book's strength is the detailed psychological approach to examining the phenomenon of loyalty to toxic leaders."--Publishers Weekly

"Whose fault is it that we seem to have so many bad (toxic) leaders today? Jean Lipman-Blumen asserts that everyone's to blame, especially us followers. Beautifully reasoned and intricately argued, she convincingly explains how followers help spawn toxic leaders. Fortunately, she also tells us how to get out of the trap we're in and proposes a highly innovative model of leadership that promises a healthier future."--Jerry I. Porras, Stanford Business School

"In this powerful and eye-opening book, Lipman-Blumen illuminates the darkness of the rarely understood--except to its victims--dangers of evil leadership. She proffers wise counsel and early warnings on how to detect and defend against it. I enthusiastically recommend it to all leaders--and even more, to their vulnerable followers."--Warren Bennis, University of Southern California, author of On Becoming a Leader

"Provides remarkable insights into why so many destructive leaders gain and keep power. By explaining the role of followers, Lipman-Blumen makes a profound statement about the nature of leadership itself."--Max De Pree, former CEO of Herman Miller, Inc.

"In our search for leaders, our appraisal of leaders, Jean Lipman-Blumen provides us with a powerful tool to identify, understand and analyze the toxic leader as she gives us fresh observations on our own journey to leadership." --Frances Hesselbein, Chairman, Leader to Leader Institute

review on amazon.com - 5.0 out of 5 stars HOW TOXIC LEADERS GAIN AND KEEP POWER, BUT CAN BE CHECKED. April 18, 2005-By Gerry Stern

Toxic leaders leave their followers worse off than they found them. A few of the many other ways toxic leaders act are they: violate basic standards of human rights; feed followers illusions; stifle criticism; maliciously set constituents against one another. The book shows how these leaders win people over by playing on their fears and self-esteem, only to ultimately use their power against their own followers. The book explores, in depth, how people are drawn into accepting, even embracing toxic leaders, and how these leaders retain power. This is an enlightening probe into the psyche of people and how their culture, situation, deepest fears, and dysfunctional personalities, make them vulnerable to toxic leaders. The book also explores ways of dealing with these leaders: counsel them to change; undermine them; join with others to confront or overthrow them. The book closes with a chapter on how to be freed of toxic leaders, by facing up to our anxiety and the accompanying pain, as well as by bringing nontoxic leaders to the fore. The author's insights apply to leaders of all kinds, political and business. This brief review does no justice to the breadth and depth of this work.To read this book is to help become aware of, and armed against, toxic leaders of all types. Required reading for all who yearn and strive to live free of domineering, destructive leaders. Our highest recommendation.
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/16/2013, 9:50 am

Destructive Leaders and Dysfunctional Organizations: A Therapeutic Approach by Alan Goldman

Organizational behavior and leadership research has traditionally been deeply influenced by positive psychology and appreciative inquiry. Yet, in recent times, a wave of corporate scandals and spectacular organizational failures has forced management and organizational theorists to rethink this approach. Unethical CEO behavior, white collar crime, property deviance, employee grievances and lawsuits, organizational terrorism, and workplace violence have all provided the impetus for an examination of the darker side of leadership. In Destructive Leaders and Dysfunctional Organizations, Alan Goldman draws on his extensive experience as a management consultant and executive coach to provide a fascinating behind-closed-doors account of troubled leaders and the effect they have on their organizations. Featuring clinical case studies, ranging from the fashion industry to an aeronautical engineering corporation, the book explores the damaging effects of destructive leadership on organizations and provides the tools necessary for early recognition, assessment, and treatment.


'Destructive Leaders and Dysfunctional Organizations is unique in its approach, with examples of leadership we can all relate to. It is enlightening to understand abusive and uncivil leader behavior from a psychological perspective. This is a must-read for employees and managers alike. Thank you Dr Goldman for your multi-disciplinary insights.' Leanne Atwater, University of Houston

'Unlike many accounts of organizational dysfunction in the OD literature, Alan Goldman is direct and unapologetic when it comes to identifying and acknowledging psychopathology in contemporary organizations. His book promotes a clinical model and dialogue about human behavior in organizations that some scholars in the field would prefer not to have. If, as I have come to observe, addressing psychopathology in the workplace is about listening deeply and containing individual pain and anxiety, then Goldman's book is required reading in the field.' Michael A. Diamond, University of Missouri

'Destructive Leaders and Dysfunctional Organizations is the first book to detail critical psychological issues in leadership and their organizational impacts in an accessible manner with diagnostic insights and practical solutions. A must-read for serious scholar-practitioners of the management sciences and anyone who works with changing organizational behavior.' David W. Jamieson, President of the Jamieson Consulting Group, Inc. and Practicum Director of the American University/NTL MSOD Program, Washington, DC

'Anyone who has to deal with toxic leaders will find this book enlightening as it shows the way to diagnosing their underlying psychopathology. You will also enjoy Alan Goldman's skilful handling of some very tough customers.' Michael Maccoby, author of The Leaders We Need and What Makes Us Follow and Narcissistic Leaders: Who Succeeds and Who Fails

'It's out of the closet! In their times, revelations about spousal abuse and then about clerical abuse shocked people - but they also led to remedial action. Goldman's cases illustrate leadership abuses and the disturbing consequences when senior, powerful people suffer from mental aberrations. Every senior manager needs to understand the issues raised in this book in order to see how destructive leaders cause their associates and their businesses to suffer. Goldman's book can contribute to widespread recognition and solutions to the dark side of corporate life - so that executives can be on their toes and ready to act.' Robert H. Schaffer, consultant and author of Rapid Results! How 100-Day Projects Build the Capacity for Large-Scale Change

'In response to corporate and leadership crises, Goldman's consulting and coaching narratives deliver deep insights into the pathological mechanisms of dysfunctional organizations and their leaders. His analysis of denial and resistance, greed and hubris, anger and narcissism is stimulating and thought-provoking. CEOs, scholars and students of leadership and organizational behavior will find powerful material in Goldman's unveiling of toxic leadership in areas as different as education, government, medicine, fashion, engineering and construction. Destructive Leaders and Dysfunctional Organizations is a very timely, helpful, action-oriented book and an extraordinary 'must-read' for corporate and business leaders, politicians, media leaders, management consultants and coaches alike.' Ginka Toegel, IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland

'Evidence of errant and dysfunctional behaviour by senior executives - and the misuse of their position and power - has increased in recent years and has justifiably become a matter of profound public concern. In this interesting book, Alan Goldman examines cases from his consulting work with top executives of counterproductive workplace behavior and illuminates some of the underlying psychological factors which have resulted in the pathological scenarios described.' Michael Walton, University of Exeter

Book Description
Unethical CEO behavior, white collar crime, property deviance, employee grievances and lawsuits, organizational terrorism, and workplace violence have all provided the impetus for an examination of the darker side of leadership. Alan Goldman provides a fascinating behind-closed-doors account of troubled leaders and the effect they have on their organizations.
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/16/2013, 9:56 am

Toxic Workplace!: Managing Toxic Personalities and Their Systems of Power by Mitchell Kusy and Elizabeth Holloway

Praise for Toxic Workplace!

"Toxic Workplace! describes how to identify and best work with toxic personalities. It also provides a systemic approach for creating a culture that's positive and respectful while improving the bottom line. Kusy and Holloway share how their national research translates into real-world practices in organizations. I endorse their practical, concrete approaches that will make a significant difference in organizations today and in the future."
Gregg Steinhafel, president and CEO, Target Corporation

"Toxic Workplace! brings a rare and valuable view of one of the great challenges facing leaders in today's organizations. It is a significant guidebook to the healthy enterprise of the future, not only because of Kusy and Holloway's systems approach to dealing with toxic personalities, but also their unique practice of creating communities of respectful engagement. This book demonstrates how this impacts both organizational social responsibility and the bottom line."
Frances Hesselbein, former CEO of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.; founding president and chairman of Leader to Leader Institute, formerly The Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management

"Transforming the culture to support the strategy and mission is the real stuff of leadership. Toxic Workplace! gives you the research-based tools to identify and deal with the 'dark side' of this important dynamic. Read it and you will engage your organization in new, more authentic, and effective ways!"
Kevin Cashman, author, Leadership from the Inside Out and senior partner, Korn/Ferry Leadership & Talent Consulting

Editorial Reviews -From the Inside Flap

"The day this person left our company is considered an annual holiday!"
This quote, taken from Kusy and Holloway's research on toxic personalities, echoes the frustration and confusion that come from working with or managing an extremely difficult person. Just one toxic person has the capacity to debilitate individuals, teams, and even organizations.

Toxic Workplace! is the first book to tackle the underlying systems issues that enable a toxic person to create a path of destruction in an organization, pervading others' thoughts and energies, even undermining their very sense of well-being. Based on all-new research with over 400 leaders, many from the Fortune 500 list, this book illustrates how to manage existing toxic behaviors, create norms that prevent the growth or regrowth of toxic environments, and ultimately design organizational communities of respectful engagement.

Kusy and Holloway's research reveals the warning signs that indicate a serious behavioral problem and identifies how this toxicity spreads in systems with long-term effects on organizational climate, even after the person has left. Their two-year, cutting-edge research study provides very specific actions that leaders need to take to reduce both the intensity and frequency of toxic personalities at work. No other book provides this menu of options from a systems perspective with practical relevance in real work situations.

You'll learn how to identify the toxic personality and describe the leader reactions and approaches that typically don't work. Toxic Workplace! provides hands-on approaches that work with research-based strategies at the individual, team, and organizational level.Toxic Workplace! will provide new insights on how leaders lead, how organizational cultures sustain themselves, and how teams deal with toxic personalities.

About the Authors

Mitchell Kusy, PhD, is a consultant and full professor in the graduate program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University. A 2005 Fulbright Scholar in international organization development, Dr. Kusy consults globally in strategic planning, leadership development, 360-degree feedback, organization development, and designing organizational communities of respectful engagement. He is a visiting professor at several universities internationally.

Elizabeth Holloway, PhD, is a consultant and full professor in the graduate program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University. A Diplomate of the American Board of Professional Psychology and Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Holloway has had more than 25 years' experience as a practitioner, educator, and consultant with organizations, groups, and mental health clients. She consults globally on system approaches to mentoring, coaching, and creating organizational communities of respectful engagement.
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/18/2013, 11:16 am

Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box  - by the Arbinger Institute

The "disease" of self-deception (acting in ways contrary to what one knows is right) underlies all leadership problems in today's organizations, according to the premise of this work. However well intentioned they may be, leaders who deceive themselves always end up undermining their own performance.

This straightforward book explains how leaders can discover their own self-deceptions and learn how to escape destructive patterns. The authors demonstrate that breaking out of these patterns leads to improved teamwork, commitment, trust, communication, motivation, and leadership.

Amazon.com Review
Using the story/parable format so popular these days, Leadership and Self-Deception takes a novel psychological approach to leadership. It's not what you do that matters, say the authors (presumably plural--the book is credited to the esteemed Arbinger Institute), but why you do it. Latching onto the latest leadership trend won't make people follow you if your motives are selfish--people can smell a rat, even one that says it's trying to empower them. The tricky thing is, we don't know that our motivation is flawed. We deceive ourselves in subtle ways into thinking that we're doing the right thing for the right reason. We really do know what the right thing to do is, but this constant self-justification becomes such an ingrained habit that it's hard to break free of it--it's as though we're trapped in a box, the authors say.

Learning how the process of self-deception works--and how to avoid it and stay in touch with our innate sense of what's right--is at the heart of the book. We follow Tom, an old-school, by-the-book kind of guy who is a newly hired executive at Zagrum Corporation, as two senior executives show him the many ways he's "in the box," how that limits him as a leader in ways he's not aware of, and of course how to get out. This is as much a book about personal transformation as it is about leadership per se. The authors use examples from the characters' private as well as professional lives to show how self-deception skews our view of ourselves and the world and ruins our interactions with people, despite what we sincerely believe are our best intentions.

While the writing won't make John Updike lose any sleep, the story entertainingly does the job of pulling the reader in and making a potentially abstruse argument quite enjoyable. The authors have a much better ear for dialogue than is typical of the genre (the book is largely dialogue), although a certain didactic tone creeps in now and then. But ultimately it's a hopeful, even inspiring read that flows along nicely and conveys a message that more than a few managers need to hear. --Pat McGill --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"... not just another book on leadership. It identifies the central issue of all performance. I recommend it very highly." -- Brad Pelo, President and CEO, NextPage

"... shows why the truth about failure is so difficult to see, and explains how to overcome such self-deception." -- Dave Checketts, President and CEO, Madison Square Garden Corp.
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/19/2013, 7:59 am

Reality distortion field
From Wikipedia

Reality distortion field (RDF) is a term coined by Bud Tribble at Apple Computer in 1981, to describe company co-founder Steve Jobs' charisma and its effects on the developers working on the Macintosh project.[1] Tribble said that the term came from Star Trek.[1] Later the term has also been used to refer to perceptions of his keynote speeches (or "Stevenotes") by observers and devoted users of Apple computers and products.[2]

The RDF was said by Andy Hertzfeld to be Steve Jobs' ability to convince himself and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement and persistence. RDF was said to distort an audience's sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and made them believe that the task at hand was possible.

The term is also used by Apple's competitors when they criticize Apple. On Research In Motion's official BlackBerry blog, Jim Balsillie introduced his article by saying “For those of us who live outside of Apple’s distortion field”.[3]

Jobs' reality distortion field was parodied in Dilbert: Dilbert built a functioning reality distortion field emitter, which is used during Dogbert's keynote speech,[4] while previous strips parodied iPhone flaws.[5] In chapter three of the 2011 biography of Steve Jobs, titled Steve Jobs, biographer Walter Isaacson states that around 1972, while Jobs was attending Reed College, Robert Friedland "...taught Steve the reality distortion field...”

The term has extended in industry to other managers and leaders who try to convince their employees to become passionately committed to projects without regard to the overall product or to competitive forces in the market. It also has been used with regard to hype for products that are not necessarily connected with any one person.[6] Bill Clinton's charisma has been called a reality distortion field.[7] The chess champion Bobby Fischer was said to have a "Fischer aura" surrounding him that disoriented Boris Spassky and other opponents.[8]

Charismatic authority
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Max Weber defined charismatic authority as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him."

The concept has acquired wide usage among sociologists. Other terms used are "charismatic domination"[1] and "charismatic leadership".[2]



Weber applies the term charisma to

    [A] certain quality of an individual personality, by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities. These are such as are not accessible to the ordinary person, but are regarded as of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of them the individual concerned is treated as a leader [...] How the quality in question would be ultimately judged from an ethical, aesthetic, or other such point of view is naturally indifferent for the purpose of definition.[3][a]


Charismatic authority is

    [P]ower legitimized on the basis of a leader's exceptional personal qualities or the demonstration of extraordinary insight and accomplishment, which inspire loyalty and obedience from followers.[4]

Leadership is the power to diffuse a positive energy and a sense of greatness

As such, it rests almost entirely on the leader. The absence of that leader for any reason can lead to the authority's power dissolving. However, due to its idiosyncratic nature and lack of formal organization, charismatic authority depends much more strongly on the perceived legitimacy of the authority than Weber’s other forms of authority. For instance, a charismatic leader in a religious context might require an unchallenged belief that the leader has been touched by God, in the sense of a guru or prophet.[5] Should the strength of this belief fade, the power of the charismatic leader can fade quickly, which is one of the ways in which this form of authority shows itself to be unstable.

In contrast to the current popular use of the term charismatic leader, Weber saw charismatic authority not so much as character traits of the charismatic leader but as a relationship between the leader and his followers. The validity of charism is founded on its "recognition" by the leader's followers (or "adepts" - Anhänger). His charisma risks disappearing if he is "abandoned by God" or if "his government doesn't provide any prosperity to those whom he dominates".

Routinizing charisma

Charismatic authority almost always endangers the boundaries set by traditional (coercive) or rational (legal) authority. It tends to challenge this authority, and is thus often seen as revolutionary.[7][8] Usually this charismatic authority is incorporated into society. Hereby the challenge that it presents to society will subside. The way in which this happens is called routinization.

By routinization, the charismatic authority changes:

    [C]harismatic authority is succeeded by a bureaucracy controlled by a rationally established authority or by a combination of traditional and bureaucratic authority.[9]

A religion which evolves its own priesthood and establishes a set of laws and rules is likely to lose its charismatic character and move towards another type of authority. For example, Muhammad, who had charismatic authority as "The Prophet" among his followers, was succeeded by the traditional authority and structure of Islam, a clear example of routinization.

In politics, charismatic rule is often found in various authoritarian states, autocracies, dictatorships and theocracies. To help to maintain their charismatic authority, such regimes will often establish a vast personality cult. When the leader of such a state dies or leaves office, and a new charismatic leader does not appear, such a regime is likely to fall shortly thereafter, unless it has become fully routinized.[10]

Charismatic succession

Because the authority is centralized around one leader, the death of the charismatic leader would constitute the destruction of the government unless prior arrangements were made. A society that faces the end of their charismatic leader can choose to move to another format of leadership or to have a transference of charismatic authority to another leader by means of succession.

According to Max Weber, the methods of succession are: search, revelation, designation by original leader, designation by qualified staff, hereditary charisma, and office charisma.[11] These are the various ways in which an individual and a society can contrive to maintain the unique energy and nature of charisma in their leadership.


"The search for a new charismatic leader (takes place) on the basis of the qualities which will fit him for the position of authority." An example of this search method is the search for a new Dalai Lama. "It consists in a search for a child with characteristics which are interpreted to mean that he is a reincarnation of the Buddha." This search is an example of the way in which an original charismatic leader can be made to "live on" through a replacement.[11]

"In this case the legitimacy of the new leader is dependent on the legitimacy of the technique of selection." The technique of selection is the modus operandi of the selection process. In ancient times, oracles were believed to have special access to "divine judgment" and thus their technique in selection was perceived to be legitimate. Their choice was imbued with the charismatic authority that came with the oracle's endorsement.[11]
Designation by original leader

In this form, the original holder of charismatic authority is perceived to have passed their authority to another. An excellent example is Joseph Stalin's claim that Vladimir Lenin had designated him to be his successor as leader of the USSR. Insofar as people believed in this claim, Stalin gained Lenin's charismatic authority.[11]

Designated by qualified staff

"A successor (may be designated) by the charismatically qualified administrative staff... (T)his process should not be interpreted as 'election' or 'nomination'... It is not determined by merely a majority vote...Unanimity (is) often required." A case example of this form of succession is the papal conclave of cardinals to choose a new pope. The cardinals taking part in the papal conclave are viewed to be charismatically qualified by their Roman Catholic congregations and thus their choice is imbued with charismatic authority.[11]

Hereditary charisma

Charisma can be perceived as "a quality transmitted by heredity." This method of succession is present in Kim il Sung's charisma being passed on to his son, Kim Jong Il This did not, however, translate to Kim Jong Un . This type of succession is a difficult undertaking and often results in a movement toward traditionalization and legalization in authority.[12][11][13]
Office charisma

"The concept of charisma may be transmitted by ritual means from one bearer to another...It involves a dissociation of charisma from a particular individual, making it an objective, transferable entity." Priestly consecration is believed to be a modus through which priestly charisma to teach and perform other priestly duties is transferred to a person. In this way, priests inherit priestly charisma and are subsequently perceived by their congregations as having the charismatic authority that comes with the priesthood.[11]

Application of Weber's theories

Weber’s model of charismatic leadership giving way to institutionalization is endorsed by several academic sociologists.

New religious movements

Eileen Barker discusses the tendency for new religious movements to have founders or leaders who wield considerable charismatic authority and are believed to have special powers or knowledge. Charismatic leaders are unpredictable, Barker says, for they are not bound by tradition or rules and they may be accorded by their followers the right to pronounce on all aspects of their lives. Barker warns that in these cases the leader may lack any accountability, require unquestioning obedience, and encourage a dependency upon the movement for material, spiritual and social resources.[14]

George D. Chryssides asserts that not all new religious movements have charismatic leaders, and that there are differences in the hegemonic styles among those movements that do.[15]


Len Oakes, an Australian psychologist who wrote a dissertation about charisma, had eleven charismatic leaders fill in a psychometric test, which he called the adjective checklist, and found them as a group quite ordinary. Following the psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut, Oakes argues that charismatic leaders exhibit traits of narcissism and also argues that they display an extraordinary amount of energy, accompanied by an inner clarity unhindered by the anxieties and guilt that afflict more ordinary people. He did however not fully follow Weber's framework of charismatic authority.[16]

Narcissistic leadership
From Wikipedia

Narcissistic leadership is a leadership style in which the leader is only interested in him/herself. Their priority is themselves - at the expense of their people/group members. This leader exhibits the characteristics of a narcissist: arrogance, dominance and hostility. It is a sufficiently common leadership style that it has acquired its own name.[citation needed] The narcissism may range from anywhere between healthy and destructive. To Linda L. Neider and Chester A. Schriesheim, "narcissistic leadership (preferably destructive) is driven by unyielding arrogance, self-absorption, and a personal egotistic need for power and admiration."[1]

Narcissism and groups

A study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin suggests that when a group is without a leader, a narcissist is likely to take charge. Researchers have found that people who score high in narcissism tend to take control of leaderless groups.[2] Freud considered "the narcissistic type... especially suited to act as a support for others, to take on the role of leaders and to... impress others as being 'personalities'.":[3] one reason may be that "another person's narcissism has a great attraction for those who have renounced part of their own... as if we envied them for maintaining a blissful state of mind — an unassailable libidinal position which we ourselves have since abandoned."[4]

According to the book Narcissism: Behind the Mask, there are four basic types of leader with narcissists most commonly in type 3 although they may be in type 1:[5]

    authoritarian with task oriented decision making
    democratic with task oriented decision making
    authoritarian with emotional decision making
    democratic with emotional decision making

Michael Maccoby stated that "psychoanalysts don't usually get close enough to [narcissistic leaders], especially in the workplace, to write about them."[6]

Corporate narcissism

According to Alan Downs, corporate narcissism occurs when a narcissist becomes the leader (CEO) or a member of the senior management team and gathers an adequate mix of codependents around him (or her) to support the narcissistic behavior. Narcissists profess company loyalty but are only really committed to their own agendas, thus organizational decisions are founded on the narcissist's own interests rather than the interests of the organization as a whole, the various stakeholders, or the society in which the organization operates.[7] As a result, "a certain kind of charismatic leader can run a financially successful company on thoroughly unhealthy principles for a time. But... the chickens always come home to roost", according to the self-help book by Robin Skynner and comedian John Cleese in Life and how to survive it.[8]

Neville Symington has suggested that "one of the ways of differentiating a good-enough organisation from one that is pathological is through its ability to exclude narcissistic characters from key posts."[9]

Productive narcissists

Simon Crompton has distinguished what he calls "productive narcissists" from "unproductive narcissists".[10] Maccoby acknowledged that "productive narcissists still tend to be over-sensitive to criticism, over-competitive, isolated, and grandiose," but considered that "what draws them out is that they have a sense of freedom to do whatever they want rather than feeling constantly constrained by circumstances," and that through their charisma they are able to "draw people into their vision, and produce a cohort of disciples who will pursue the dream for all it's worth."[11]

Others have questioned the concept, considering that "the dramatic collapse of Wall Street and the financial system in 2009 must give us pause. Is the collapse due to business leaders who have developed narcissistic styles"—even if ostensibly productive?[12] Certainly one may conclude that at best "there can be quite a fine line between narcissists who perform badly in the workplace because of their traits, and those who achieve outrageous success because of them."[13]

Impact of healthy v. destructive narcissistic managers

Lubit compared healthily narcissistic managers versus destructively narcissistic managers for their long-term impact on organizations.[14]

Characteristic     Healthy narcissism     Destructive narcissism

Self-confidence     High outward self-confidence in line with reality     Grandiose
Desire for power, wealth and admiration     May enjoy power     Pursues power at all costs, lacks normal inhibitions in its pursuit

Relationships     Real concern for others and their ideas; does not exploit or devalue others     Concerns limited to expressing socially appropriate response when convenient; devalues and exploits others without remorse
Ability to follow a consistent path     Has values; follows through on plans     Lacks values; easily bored; often changes course
Foundation     Healthy childhood with support for self-esteem and appropriate limits on behaviour towards others     Traumatic childhood undercutting true sense of self-esteem and/or learning that he/she doesn't need to be considerate of others
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/19/2013, 8:05 am

Toxic leader
From Wikipedia

A toxic leader is a person who has responsibility over a group of people or an organization, and who abuses the leader–follower relationship by leaving the group or organization in a worse-off condition than when s/he first found them. The phrase was coined by Marcia Whicker in 1996 and is linked with a number of dysfunctional leadership styles.[1] Other names include the little Hitler, manager from hell, The Toxic Boss and boss from hell.[1] Their leadership style is both self-destructive and ultimately corporately harmful as they subvert and destroy organizational structures.[2]

Basic traits

The basic traits of a toxic leader are generally considered to be either/or insular,[1] intemperate,[1][3] glib, operationally rigid, callous,[1] inept,[3] discriminatory,[1] corrupt[3] or aggressive[3] by scholars such as Barbara Kellerman. They boast that they are supposedly clever, always criticize other staff members and avoid or dislike to be asked awkward questions about their leadership style.[2] These may occur as either:

    Oppositional behaviour.[2]
    Plays corporate power politics.
    An overcompetitive attitude to other employees.[2]
    Perfectionistic attitudes.
    Abuse of the disciplinary system (such as to remove a workplace rival).
    A condescending/glib attitude.[1]
    They are shallow and lack self-confidence. Toxic leaders are not confident with themselves and become aggressive to cope.[2]

    Poor self-control and/or restraint.[3]
    Physical and/or psychological bullying.[3]
    Procedural inflexibility.[2]
    Discriminatory attitudes (sexism, etc.).
    Causes workplace division instead of harmony.[1]
    Use "divide and rule" tactics on their employees.[3]

Aggressive narcissism

This syndrome is also the 'Factor 1' in the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, which includes the following traits:

    Glibness/superficial charm[2]
    Grandiose sense of self-worth
    Pathological lying
    Lack of remorse or guilt[2]

    Callous/lack of empathy[2]
    Shallow emotional affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and egocentric)
    Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

Other traits

Many are also authoritarian, autocratic [2] and/or control freaks to varying degrees, who tend use both micromanagement, over management and management by fear to keep a grip of their authority in the organizational group. Micromanagers usually dislike a subordinate making decisions without consulting them, regardless of the level of authority or factual correctness.[1] A toxic leader can be both hypocritical and hypercritical of others, seeking the illusion of corporate and moral virtue to hide their own workplace vices. Hypocrisy involves the deception of others and is thus a form of lying.[1] [4] They are sometimes maladjusted,[2] and afraid of change [2] They can also be both frightening and psychologically stressful with which to work.[1]

The U.S. Army defines toxic leaders as commanders who put their own needs first, micro-manage subordinates, behave in a mean-spirited manner or display poor decision-making.[5] A study for the Center for Army Leadership found that toxic leaders work to promote themselves at the expense of their subordinates, and usually do so without considering long-term ramifications to their subordinates, their unit, and the Army profession.[6]
Tools of a toxic leader

    Workload: The setting up to fail procedure is in particular a well established workplace bullying tactic that a toxic leader can use against his rivals and subordinates.[7][8][9]

    Corporate control systems: They could use the processes in place to monitor what is going on. Disciplinary systems could be abused to aid their power culture.

    Organizational structures: They could abuse the hierarchies, personal relationships and the way that work flows through the business.

    Corporate power structures: The toxic leader controls who, if any one makes the decisions and how widely spread power is.

    Symbols of personal authority : These may include the right to parking spaces and executive washrooms or access to supplies and uniforms. Narcissistic symbols and self-images (i.e. workplace full of self-portraits).

    Workplace rituals and routines: Management meetings, board reports, disciplinary hearing, performance assays and so on may become more habitual than necessary.

Inevitably the victim’s workplace performance, self-esteem and self-confidence will decline as employee(s)’ stress inclines. Heavy running costs and a high staff turnover/overtime rate are often also associated with employee related results of a toxic leader.[1]

Key theorists

Jean Lipman-Blumen
Main article: Jean Lipman-Blumen

Jean Lipman-Blumen's book, The Allure of Toxic Leaders : Why We Follow Destructive Bosses and Corrupt Politicians—and How We Can Survive Them, Professor Jean Lipman-Blumen explained that there was and still is a tendency among contemporary society to seek authoritative, even dominating characteristics among our corporate and political leaders because of the public's own personal psychosocial needs and emotional weaknesses.

Dr. Lipman-Blumen noticed "toxic leadership" was not about run-of-the-mill mismanagement. Rather, it referred to leaders, who, by virtue of their "dysfunctional personal characteristics" and "destructive behaviours" "inflict reasonably serious and enduring harm" not only on their own followers and organizations, but on others outside of their immediate circle of victims and subordinates, as well. A noted rule of thumb suggests that toxic leaders leave their followers and others who come within their sphere of influence worse off than they found them either on a personal and/or corporate basis.

Dr. Lipman-Blumens' core focus was on investigating why people will continue to follow and remain loyal to toxic leaders. She also explored why followers often vigorously resist change and challenges to leaders who have clearly violated the leader/follower relationship and abused their power as leaders to the direct detriment of the people they are leading. Lipman-Blumen suggests there is something of a deeply psychological nature going on. She argues the need to feel safe, specialness and in a social community all help explain this psychological phenomenon.

Barbara Kellerman
Main article: Barbara Kellerman (academic)

In Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why It Matters, Barbara Kellerman (2004) suggests that toxicity in leadership (or simply, "bad leadership") may be analysed into seven different types:

    Incompetent – the leader and at least some followers lack the will or skill (or both) to sustain effective action. With regard to at least one important leadership challenge, they do not create positive change.[3]

    Rigid – the leader and at least some followers are stiff and unyielding. Although they may be competent, they are unable or unwilling to adapt to new ideas, new information, or changing times.[3]

    Intemperate – the leader lacks self-control and is aided and abetted by followers who are unwilling or unable to effectively intervene.[3]

    Callous – the leader and at least some followers are uncaring or unkind. Ignored and discounted are the needs, wants, and wishes of most members of the group or organization, especially subordinates.[3]

    Corrupt – the leader and at least some followers lie, cheat, or steal. To a degree that exceeds the norm, they put self-interest ahead of the public interest.[3]

    Insular – the leader and at least some followers minimize or disregard the health and welfare of those outside the group or organization for which they are directly responsible.[3]

    Evil – the leader and at least some followers commit atrocities. They use pain as an instrument of power. The harm can be physical, psychological or both.[3]

Terry Price

In Understanding Ethical Failures in Leaders, Price argues that the volitional account of moral failures in leaders do not provide a complete account of this phenomenon. Some have suggested that the reason leaders misbehave ethically is because they willingly go against what they know to be wrong. Professor Terry L. Price however, offers an alternative analysis of leaders who excuse themselves from normally applicable moral requirements. He argues that a cognitive account for ethical failures in leaders provides a better analysis of the issues involved in all the ethical conundrums under the rubric of "toxic leadership". Leaders can know that a certain kind of behavior is generally required by morality but still be mistaken as to whether the relevant moral requirement applies to them in a particular situation and whether others are protected by this requirement. Price demonstrates how leaders make exceptions of themselves, explains how the justificatory force of leadership gives rise to such exception-making, and develops normative protocols that leaders should adopt.

Gillian Flynn
Main article: Gillian Flynn

The corporate management analyst Gillian Flynn described a toxic manager as the: "manager who bullies, threatens, yells. Whose mood swings determine the climate of the office on any given workday. Who forces employees to whisper in sympathy in cubicles and hallways. The backbiting, belittling boss from hell." In his 2004 study on the topic.[3]
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/20/2013, 12:01 am

What Borderlines and Narcissists Fear Most: Part A
Borderlines fear you abandoning them; Narcissists fear losing your "supply"
Published on October 19, 2011 by Randi Kreger in Stop Walking on Eggshells

This is part 4A of my series on the similarities and differences between borderline and narcissistic disorders. You can find part 1 here , part 2 here and part 3 here.

We are social creatures, born needing our parents, our families, and our communities. And our most cherished dream is finding that one special someone with whom to share our life. Others enrich our life and make it worth living.

But this basic human need becomes distorted--even disturbed-- for people with narcissistic and borderline personality disorder. Just what those needs are depends upon whether your loved one has NPD or BPD (or both).
Related Articles - from Psychologytoday.com

    Why Borderlines and Narcissists Seem to Want Power & Control
    Lack of Empathy: The Most Telling Narcissistic Trait
    What To Do About Fear, Obligation and Guilt
    Get Back on Track When Conversations Get Derailed
    What Borderlines and Narcissists Fear Most: Part B

Narcissists require others for for than attention: they rely on them for the overarching "narcissistic supply": anything that builds them up and confirms their superiority, gradiosity, and entitlement. They are terrified of losing it. People with BPD, however, fear abandonment. These twin fears incite behaviors that wound their loved ones and ironically drive them out of relationships with those who need them so desperately.

In this blog post, I will talk about narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic supply. In my next post, I will cover BPD fear of abandonment. Narcissistic supply and fear of abandonment are at the very core of these disorders; once you appreciate how they work you will truly comprehend the essence of these disorders and your challenges in loving someone with them.

While we all want to hear good things about ourselves from family and friends, we value them even when it's not forthcoming. The best among us and even appreciate those who tactfully gave us negative feedback. Narcissists, however, only value those who feed their craving for something called "narcissistic supply." Children--especially young ones--are good sources of supply, along with other family members and people reporting to them at work.

Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited, has NPD himself: for that and other aspects of his personality he gets much criticism on the Internet. I don't agree with everything he says, and he is not a therapist. But I find his work to be revealing and accurate because as a narcissist who studies other narcissists, he has a flair getting his point across. He writes:

    The narcissist actively solicits narcissistic supply--adulation, compliments, admiration, subservience, attention, and being feared--from others in order to sustain his fragile and dysfunctional ego. Thus, he constantly courts possible rejection, criticism, disagreement, and even mockery. 

    The narcissist is, therefore, dependent on other people. He is aware of the risks associated with such all-pervasive and essential dependence. He resents his weakness and dreads possible disruptions in the flow of his drug--narcissistic supply. He is caught between the rock of his habit and the hard place of his frustration. No wonder he is prone to raging, lashing and acting out, and to pathological, all-consuming envy (all expressions of pent-up aggression).

    By playing on the narcissist's grandiosity and paranoia, it is possible to deceive and manipulate him effortlessly. Just offer him supply and he is yours. Harp on his insecurities and his persecutory delusions and he is likely to trust only you and cling to you for dear life.

     Being deprived of narcissistic supply is like being hollowed out, mentally disemboweled or watching oneself die. It is a cosmic evaporation, disintegrating into molecules of terrified anguish, helplessly and inexorably. It is disintegrating like the zombies or the vampires in horror movies. It is terrifying and the narcissist will do anything to avoid it.

In her book, The Object of My Affection Is In My Reflection, Rokelle Lerner explains that the desperation for narcissistic supply is linked to the narcissist's lack of a true identity apart from the "false self" --a type of costume they create to cover up wounds they may have experienced as a child. She writes (p. 56, 57, 58):

    People are objects who exist for their satisfaction...[They] focus on potential sources of supply (people) and engulf them with charm, concentrated attention, and contrived deep emotions....If a narcissist must be liked to secure a supply, he does all he can to be liked. If he needs to be feared to be admired, he makes sure he is feared....

    Entrapping and maintaining a source of supply is a full time job for the narcissist. The level of manipulation, seduction, and political shrewedness it takes to cultivate and maintain a supply is honed to absolute perfection. This makes sense if you consider that his supply is as important as oxygen...a matter of emotional life or death. The problem is that there is never, ever enough.

To a narcissist, other people are like parts in a machine that only get noticed when something goes wrong and they stop "working." Once someone suggests they're not perfect or experiences some other narcissist injury (something that reminds him he's just another faulty human being) he will turn from Dr. Jeckyl to Mr. Hyde, raging, criticizing, blaming, giving others the silent treatment, and projecting his own deficiences onto others.

Even when the "supply" does no obvious wrong (often because of her horror at being called "selfish"), the narcissist may eventually devalue or discards the "part" (partner)  and "orders" a new one--for example, has an affair once the shiny sheen on a new relationship fades into the dull squabbles that typify even the best relationships.

    Shirley and Jack have partners with NPD. Lenny has an NPD parent. Here are their real-life stories.

    Shirley: If I didn't give my husband Dan the boost to his ego at the time he needed it, he would completely shut me off, give me the silent treatment, and go out with the young secretaries who would praise him and make him feel like the big man on campus. Then he would get disillusioned by them and come back to me.

     Jack: My wife Penny would get angry at me if I didn't acknowledge a new outfit, a change in house decor, an email she had left for me, a card she had sent me, her hair, and so many other things. I couldn't keep up with the constant praise she needed about everything.

     After our son went to college, she would call and text him to say he wasn't acting loving and respectful if he didn't call her at least once a week to see what was going on in her life. At home, I watched him cringe as we would apologize profusely after her tantrums to try to de-escalate her emotions.

    Lenny: My father's whole life was dedicated to obtaining narcissistic supply. He was like a person who gets a cute kitten or puppy from a shelter and then discards it when it's bigger and isn't as cute. When we were very young, he loved to cuddle us and give us things. I have clear memories of his loving attention.

    But when my sister and I were four and five, we started to have our own lives. So he divorced my mother and had more little kids with his second wife (10 years younger than him) and basically forgot about us. As an adult, he only contacts me when he wants something. On his birthday and father's day he expects tribute like some king in the middle ages. Of course when something terrible happens to me he has no interest. When my apartment was broken into he scoffed at my loss and said, "It was only property," and demanded to know when I was going to take him out to dinner.

    I still feel awful and embarassed about the time his sister's son died unexpectedly. Rather than visit her and go to the funeral in another state, he stayed at home and played the injured uncle deserving of pity because his nephew died. All the kids had to pay their respects to him. When I came over, he was bitterly complaining about the lack of sympathy cards he had received. It just makes me shudder.

Keep in mind that narcissists seek out others who will affirm their heighten beliefs about themselves. We all do, to some extent. But there are some critical differences:

    Narcissists never get their fill; they're always hungry for more.

    They don't understand the principle of reciprocity. For example, it was OK for the narcissist on the beach, to make phone calls. But it was verboten for his partner.

    As we can see in the same example, narcissists will try to manipulate others to keep the supply going; sometimes subtly through sexual seduction, fear, obligation, guilt, and the silent treatment; other times more forcefully through lies, threats, or simply discarding the used-up supply. Narcissists can be very good at finding just the trigger that will get supply going again.

In later posts (once I am done illustrating the similarities and differences of BPD and NPD) I will talk about what to do about this. For now, keep in mind that shame is at the root of the narcissist's dilemma. We can affirm ourselves when the going gets tough. Narcissists can't. It's not a fun way to live.
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/20/2013, 12:04 am

Narcissistic Rage

Narcissistic Rage is something you, as the Daughter of a Narcissistic Mother, will no doubt have experienced.

Narcissists hate being challenged. Because they're such superior, perfect people, how dare you, a mere nobody, challenge them in any way?

This is why Narcissists react out of all proportion to the smallest slight, or perceived slight. Or even, to the slightest request for better treatment.

Their persona is so fragile that it cannot withstand any challenge whatsoever. This is why they go on the attack so viciously. They really are fighting for their life, or it feels like it to them.

There are no limits to what they'll do or say in the throes of this rage. They'll eviserate your personality, your very Self. It's like soul- annihilation. It's so destructive and vicious. It's a self-esteem destroyer.
Sometimes this Narcissistic Rage can turn physical, but even if it remains at being verbal, it's terrifying.

It's not surprising that many Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers have huge issues with people being angry with us. We are so sensitised to it that even normal healthy anger, or even mild annoyance, can seem like a psychic attack.

There's an irony to this too - Narcissistic Mothers use invalidation on us, and one of their tricks is to call us over-sensitive even when we're not. But having being subjected to Narcissistic Rage makes us over-sensitive too. So it can become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Many Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers report that they are terrified of their mothers. It's not surprising - they know our weaknesses, and they've no hesitation in fighting dirty. It gives them a lot of power.

I know that I, even though normally an articulate assertive woman, would go to jelly whenever my mother would snap at me. "Danu! That's enough!" she'd say, and I'd cower immediately. I'm not proud of it. But I'm sharing it so that you'll see, if this applies to you, that it's a standard reaction.

That is the power of her Narcissistic Rage.

Having said that, the power of EFT is like kryptonite to it! You can reprogram that terrified feeling using it, to get to a place where you see her rages as what they truly are: the trantrums of an overgrown toddler.  This video is also available as part of the Narcissistic Parent Survival Kit.

Read more: http://www.daughtersofnarcissisticmothers.com/narcissistic-rage.html#ixzz2nzLNIpg4
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/22/2013, 11:34 am

Is the EFT video really helpful? I went to the website. It's 29.00. I'm tempted to buy it.  Has anyone watched it? Care to offer a review? It looks like it has valuable, sensible, practical advice.

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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/22/2013, 1:38 pm

haven't watched it, don't know anything about that approach, per se.  When I post these kind of things, I am not promoting or endorsing any particular approach - just sharing different points of view that might be worth considering, taking in.  Sometimes you can find some of this stuff on line for free - or at least portions of it - so you can evaluate that way.
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/22/2013, 3:07 pm

Read The Everything Store for a pertinent view of Jeff Bezos. The ironic thing about narcissistic and charismatic leaders is that even though they may be horrible to work for, sometimes (maybe even often) the products and services their organization produces are highly successful in the marketplace.
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/22/2013, 4:58 pm

some leaders like this including Steve Jobs can be brilliant visionaries - and some of them can be quite successful, but many drown in their own self-delusion.
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/28/2013, 11:34 am

New Age Bullies
by Julia Ingram


Hannah followed New Age thinking for many years. She constructed astrology charts, worked with psychics and thought she knew something about the world. And then her 26-year-old son committed suicide. Prior to that tragedy (most bereavement counselors consider it the hardest loss to face), she believed in the adage: “Everything happens for a reason.” Hannah says, “I no longer believe that, nor do I believe I know anything about why the world works as it does.

“When people said my son died for a reason, or that he was in a better place, or worst of all, that he’d chosen to die,” said Hannah, “I was appalled and furious. It demeaned my son’s death.

”Not only did it demean her son’s death, it minimized her loss.

Hannah’s experience reminded me of a friend who underwent a severe bout of chronic fatigue. She went to see the minister of her “new thought” church, hoping to get some short-term help with shopping and housework. The minister provided less practical support: he promised to help her come to grips with the “lessons” she should learn from the illness. My friend dragged herself home and returned to her bed, feeling alone and ashamed.

During my 36 years as a psychotherapist, I’ve seen many clients who have been victims of people like those Hannah and my friend describe. I call them New Age Bullies — those who, sometimes with the best intentions, repeat spiritual movement shibboleths, with little understanding of how hurtful their advice can be. Some of their favorite clichés are:

It happened for a reason.

Nobody can hurt you without your consent.

I wonder why you created this illness (or experience).

It’s just your karma.

There are no accidents.

There are no victims.

There are no mistakes.

A variant of this behavior is found in the self-bullying people who blame themselves for being victims of a crime, accident, or illness and interpret such misfortunes as evidence of their personal defects or spiritual deficiencies.

I first used the term “New Age Bully” after attending a lecture in the early ‘90s. The speaker, a popular leader in the spiritual movement, recited a New Age nostrum: “We create our own reality.” A woman in the audience responded by recounting how she had taught this “fact” to her seven-year-old daughter. The child had fallen off her new bicycle and skinned her knee. When she ran crying into the house, the mother told her to sit down and think about how she had created that accident. To my shock, the speaker then led the audience in a round of applause for this woman. The message was reinforced: Even children need to learn how everything that happens to them is their own creation.

I jumped up and said, “I think the little girl needed a kiss and a band aid.” When I tried to elaborate, the lecturer cut me off. “Are you a beginner?” he asked and then told me how wrong I was. I sat down, embarrassed and confused. Only later, could I answer that question for myself: I am not a beginner, but a seven-year-old child is. And this self-appointed guru was teaching a belief, not a fact. He had bullied me that evening, and he encouraged others to do the same.

I chose the word “bully” because bullying is about power. In the aftermath of the Columbine High School tragedy, educators, law enforcement officials, and therapists began paying more attention to bullying. Mostly, they deal with malign bullying — the willful and conscious desire to hurt another person. That is bullying at its most destructive. While I have certainly seen examples of such abuse within spiritual circles, I’m also challenging those who push their beliefs on others in an overbearing, dogmatic manner, even when their advice is well-intentioned.

On the other hand, the belief that we create our own reality can be very self-empowering for some people — the psychological equivalent of moving mountains. My clients with strong beliefs that they are accountable for their own lives do much better in their recovery from psychological problems than those who stay stuck in the shame/blame cycle (of self or others.)

Classic books by holistic physicians, such as Bernie Siegel’s Love, Medicine and Miracles and Andrew Weil’s Spontaneous Healing, illustrate the value of empowering beliefs in recovering from illness. Neurologist David Perlmutter, author of the forthcoming The Better Brain Book, writes: “It is the belief that predestined reality can be modified that leads to statistically significantly better outcomes.

”Several years ago, Gen Kelsang Lingpur, now a resident teacher at the Tara Mahayana Buddhist Center in Tucson, was diagnosed with leu-kemia. At the time, she was a business executive from a Catholic background. “My first reaction,” she said, “was grief. I cried a lot and asked, ‘Why me?’ But then I thought, if I have only two years to live, I want them to mean something.

”Her quest for meaning led her to Buddhism, which, in turn, led her to a belief in karma. “I learned that everything comes from the Mind,” she recalled, “but not this [she smiled and pointed to her head] mind.

Everything that happens in this life is a direct result of actions from a previous life.” Once she accepted the belief that her illness was the result of her actions in a previous life, she was able, with help from her physician, to heal through Buddhist practices.

So I asked Gen Lingpur how she applied her belief in karma when working with cancer patients. “I never say to them as a group that their cancer is a result of actions from a previous life,” she said. “I don’t know if that is their belief. That would be inappropriate.”Her distinction is important. It is the reason why affirmations so often fail. Coming to a personally held belief is a process. For some, the insight may come in a flash but, for most of us, it takes work and experience to move from a desire to belief. It would be like skipping to the last page of an instruction manual and missing all the necessary intervening steps for proper assembly. If you are in the first chapter of recovery from childhood sexual abuse, for example, an early stage of recovery is to challenge the commonly shared belief that you somehow “caused” the abuse. This belief does not come from a position of power but from one of self-shame or blame. In my therapeutic practice, I have never seen anyone able to skip over this first task of realizing they were not to blame. Sometimes the only thing these clients are able to do in this early stage is to see that their abuser was to blame.Some of my fellow therapists express concern that blaming others keeps the client in the victim role. While I don’t want my clients to get stuck there, if that’s what they need to do first, it can be a useful step. To tell a vulnerable client that there are no victims invariably leads them to internalize even more self-blame.

Blaming the Victim

Many people automatically and unconsciously blame themselves for being victims. Counselors who work in a battered women’s shelter or with rape victims know it is a long and arduous process for their clients to reclaim a sense of personal power. It would be utterly cruel to ask an abused woman what she did to create that experience or to suggest that she wasn’t a victim. I assume that most people reading this article would not condone such insensitivity, but there are subtler ways to blame a victim.

A client of mine was in a relationship with a man who shared her spiritual beliefs. At the beginning of our work, she described the relationship in mystical terms. However, she had severe stress symptoms as a direct result of trying to live with his eleven-year-old son who routinely screamed hateful remarks at her.

Her complaints about the boy’s out-of-control behavior and her pleas to her partner to get help for his son were met with disdain. He insisted the problem was her response to the situation. When she told him she was in emotional pain over the child’s behavior, he replied, “No one can hurt you without your permission.” The worst of the stress came from her buying into her partner’s reality — that it was her problem.

I said he sounded like a New Age Bully. He showed no compassion for her pain; he didn’t listen to her complaints or advice; and he shamed her for reacting to the child’s aggressiveness.

Once she stopped blaming herself for being upset and saw that the problem wasn’t her inability to handle whatever the child did, but her partner’s unwillingness to take her complaints seriously or show her any compassion, she ended the relationship. She was now in a place to examine the situation according to her own beliefs.

I encourage clients to carefully examine the belief that one should remain in an abusive relationship or job because of “the lessons to be learned,” as that can be a form of self-bullying.

Why New Age Bullies Do It

New Age Bullies often act from a sincere desire to be helpful. It may also be a defense. Think of a friend who has just suffered a terrible loss or someone who’s been diagnosed with a serious illness to whom you want to say something comforting. Or, someone who seems locked in a destructive pattern and you want to say something to get him to think differently or take charge of his life. The problem is, you can’t know how your words will be received. If they don’t share your beliefs, your advice won’t help. They may feel that you are blaming them or are indifferent to their feelings.

“In blaming or shaming a victim,” Gen Lingpur says of the Buddhist tradition, “you are assuming that the person knew the karma they were creating in a previous life and that they have that knowledge in the present. We don’t know. We can’t know ahead of time what the results of an action will be, nor can we remember what action created the result. It’s sometimes a problem in the Buddhist community when someone says of another’s suffering: ‘It’s just their karma.’ That statement lacks compassion.

”Psychologically, there’s another reason people blame victims. Viki Sharp, a victim advocate for 26 years, explains it this way: “People tend to blame victims because it makes them feel less vulnerable and more in control. A woman leaves her window open one night and a man comes through it and rapes her. The thinking is: ‘She was raped because of something she did — she left her window open and, since I don’t do that, I’m safe.’”

As a practice, I don’t give unsolicited advice because I can’t know for certain what another’s beliefs or vulnerabilities are. Of course, I will offer advice in the context of a therapy session or among friends whose beliefs and experiences are familiar to me.

Gen Lingpur agrees. In her role as a spiritual teacher in a Buddhist community, she finds it appropriate to introduce concepts like karma while leading her students to a deeper understanding of the spiritual belief that there are no accidents, no victims. But it’s also a question of intention, context, and the nature of the relationship. Spiritual teachings can be easily vulgarized and misapplied.

Perhaps we can all learn from what the Buddha purportedly said about belief:

“Believe nothing because a wise person said it. Believe nothing because it is generally held. Believe nothing because it is written. Believe nothing because it is said to be Divine. Believe nothing because someone else believes it. But believe only what you yourself judge to be true.”

Tucson-based psychotherapist Julia Ingram co-authored the best-selling book, The Messengers. She can be reached through her website http://www.juliaingram.com/
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty12/28/2013, 1:29 pm

I am glad to have the time today to read through this thread. So much resonates, not only from the Shasta/OBC experiences but also after, when I looked at other traditions/centres.

People thinking they can possibly know, or even sense, what is someone else's "karma" seems such a grandiose and presumptuous delusion. Maybe they're just parroting what they were taught and have never really thought about this. No one can know what went before, re: another person. Our minds create endless fictions about ourselves and others - that's about all I can acknowledge as irrefutably true. How would you distinguish between that self-created fiction and anything else that was actually on-point and true? What a hopeless muddle. Best not to let it in the door at all -
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty1/8/2014, 9:41 am

Very good video from TEDx on toxic leadership --

and another one:


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PostSubject: another video on harm caused by lack of empathy   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty1/8/2014, 12:03 pm

an additional video on toxic leaders, lack of empathy, how group mind and blind obedience to authority can erode empathy.. from Simon Baron-Cohen.  This video and the previous two I posted above I see as very relevant to authoritarian religious leaders.  When I watched this one, i thought of Kennett as well as many other totalitarian gurus i have dealt with.  There are, of course, degrees, in lack of empathy, so before anyone says I'm calling Kennett a psychopath, watch the full video.  The other videos do call many toxic bosses psychopaths, high-level functioning of course, but such leaders create significant long-term harm in their emotional abusive behavior and lack of caring and empathy. If the shoe fits.....  You can also use this lens to look at Eko, at the basic mind-set of an organization - whether it is a cultic religious group or Apple or Enron. 


Book:  The Science of Evil by Simon Baron-Cohen

Borderline personality disorder, autism, narcissism, psychosis, Asperger's: All of these syndromes have one thing in common--lack of empathy. In some cases, this absence can be dangerous, but in others it can simply mean a different way of seeing the world.

In The Science of Evil Simon Baron-Cohen, an award-winning British researcher who has investigated psychology and autism for decades, develops a new brain-based theory of human cruelty. A true psychologist, however, he examines social and environmental factors that can erode empathy, including neglect and abuse.

Based largely on Baron-Cohen's own research, The Science of Evil will change the way we understand and treat human cruelty.


Paul Harris, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
“Simon Baron-Cohen displays once again his ability to bring science to bear on troubling and controversial issues. Arguing that we explain nothing by describing acts of wanton cruelty as evil, he explores the simple but powerful hypothesis that such acts can be traced to a distinct psychological state - a lack of empathy. He backs up his claim with a wealth of research - from developmental psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience and genetics. Those who have to deal with the aftermath of cruelty may not agree with Baron-Cohen’s analysis but they will surely be informed and provoked by his boldness and originality.”

Michael Gazzaniga, Professor of Psychology, University of California - Santa Barbara; author of The Ethical Brain
“Horrific crimes usually freeze the mind, leaving only a desire for retribution. Simon Baron-Cohen has taken us beyond those mental inadequacies. In this book, proposing a new way to think about evil people and empathy, he has laid the scientific groundwork for a future and brighter science of understanding the dark side of the human condition.”
Marco Iacoboni, Professor, UCLA; author of Mirroring People: The Science of Empathy and How We Connect with Others

“The Science of Evil is a compelling journey into the ubiquitous power of empathy in our lives. The devastating effects of ‘zero degrees of empathy’ are masterfully described and thoroughly analyzed. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen’s book shows how, with its unexpected and unsettling absence, empathy reveals its foundational role in human sociality.
Dr. Helena Cronin, Co-Director, Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, LSE
“Bringing cruelty triumphantly into the realm of science, this pioneering journey into human nature at last delivers us from ‘evil.’”
Uta Frith, Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development, UCL
“A compelling and provocative account of empathy as our most precious social resource. Lack of empathy lurks in the darkest corners of human history and Simon Baron-Cohen does not shrink from looking at them under the fierce light of science.”
Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist
“Simon Baron-Cohen combines his creative talent with evidence and reason to make the case that evil is essentially a failure of empathy. It is an understanding that can enlighten an old debate and hold out the promise of new remedies.”
Andrew N. Meltzoff, co-director of University of Washington Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences and co-author of The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us about the Mind
“What makes someone evil? What’s the brain got to do with it? Baron-Cohen confronts the most urgent and controversial questions in social neuroscience. Both disturbing and compassionate this brilliant book establishes a new science of evil, explaining both its brain basis and development. Baron-Cohen fundamentally transforms how we understand cruelty in others and in so doing forces us to examine ourselves. Reading this book invites us to widen our own circle of empathy—compelling us to grow and comprehend, if not forgive.”
Boston Globe
“The Science of Evil contains a huge amount of useful information for a rather short read…it’s an important early step in building a more robust understanding of our species at its most horrific.”
Psychology Today
“Rigorously researched…[Baron-Cohen’s] discussion of how parents can instill lifelong empathy in their children is particularly useful.”
Terry Eagleton, Financial Times
“Attractively humane…fascinating information about the relation between degrees of empathy and the state of our brains.”
Richard Holloway, Literary Review
“Ground-breaking and important…This humane and immensely sympathetic book calls us to the task of reinterpreting aberrant human behaviour so that we might find ways of changing it for the better…The effect…is not to diminish the concept of human evil, but to demystify it.”
The Spectator (UK)
“Short, clear, and highly readable. Baron-Cohen guides you through his complex material as if you were a student attending a course of lectures. He’s an excellent teacher; there’s no excuse for not understanding anything he says.”
Times Higher Education Supplement (UK)
“Engaging and informative.”
Dorothy Rowe, The Guardian (UK)
“A book that gets to the heart of man’s inhumanity to man... Baron-Cohen has made a major contribution to our understanding of autism.”
Ian Critchley, Sunday Times (UK)
“Fascinating... bold.”
Science Focus
“Easy to read and packed with anecdotes. The author conveys brain research with verve.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Baron-Cohen’s professorial background shines through in the book’s tone and in step-by-step, engaging prose urging both academic and lay reader alike to journey with him in scientific inquiry.”
Library Journal

“Clearly written and succinct, this book will enrich but not overwhelm interested readers…provides a useful perspective for understanding human pathology, including events like Columbine and the Holocaust.”
About the Author

Simon Baron-Cohen is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology in the departments of Experimental Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge. He is the Director of the University’s Autism Research Centre, and a Fellow of Trinity College. He has received the Spearman Medal, the May Davison Award for Clinical Psychology, and the Presidents Award from the British Psychological Society. He has also won the McAndless Award from the American Psychological Association. His previous books include The Essential Difference and Mindblindness. He lives in Cambridge, England.
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PostSubject: current example of toxic leadership in action.....   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty1/9/2014, 11:11 pm

If you want to see toxic leadership in action, look no further than the current scandal surround Gov. Christie of New Jersey.  It's a big front page story right now, so you can find lots of coverage on line about what happened.  Since I live in NYC, it's a major controversy here.  Christie is a classic example of a bully - vindictive leader addicted to vengeance and who demands total loyalty.  Such people talk about taking full responsibility, but really don't - they see themselves as the victim, as being betrayed, as being let down.  Others did this to them.  They are never responsible in actuality.  They create a culture around them of fear, blind obedience to authority, us vs. them, attacking your enemies, payback, etc.  Christie is an Enneagram type 8 - the same as Kennett. 

Chris Christie’s problem is that he’s really, truly a bully
By Ezra Klein
January 8 at 3:06 pm
The release of e-mails suggesting that Gov. Chris Christie's top aides choked off transportation to a small town as political retribution against the town's mayor are a huge deal. I wouldn't go so far as Jonathan Chait, who says "they will probably destroy Christie’s chances in 2016." But they make it much likelier that something will emerge to destroy Christie's chances in 2016.

Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Christie-800x531
Gov. Chris Christie (Chris Usher/Associated Press)

Christie inhabits a rare space in American politics: He's a bully. He's followed around by an aide with a camcorder watching for moments in which Christie, mustering the might and prestige of his office, annihilates some citizen who dares question him.

Quote :
Almost everywhere Christie goes, he is filmed by an aide whose job is to capture these “moments,” as the governor’s staff has come to call them. When one occurs, Christie’s press shop splices the video and uploads it to YouTube; from there, conservatives throughout the country share Christie clips the way tween girls circulate Justin Bieber videos. “The YouTube stuff is golden,” says Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review. “I can’t tell you how many people forward them to me.” One video on Christie’s YouTube channel — a drubbing he delivered to another aggrieved public-school teacher at a town hall in September — has racked up over 750,000 views.

Now in Moorestown, Christie was hoping to create another such moment. After some introductory remarks, he opened the floor to questions. “For those of you who have seen some of my appearances on YouTube,” he cautioned, peeling off his suit jacket as he spoke, “this is when it normally happens.”

It's not an accident that Christie emerged in a period when the Republican Party is out of power. His videos make them feel powerful at a moment when they're weak.
The reason Chris Christie is so good at this is that Chris Christie is actually a bully. That doesn't mean he's not also a nice guy who cares deeply about his family and his constituents and his country. It doesn't mean he's not an unusually honest politician who's refreshingly free of cant and willing to question his party. There's a lot about Christie that's deeply appealing. But there's one big thing that's not: He's someone who uses his office to intimidate people and punish or humiliate perceived enemies.

Watch this video of him screaming at a guy on the New Jersey Boardwalk. Watch him stalk toward the man, flanked by security and aides. Listen to what he actually says. "Keep walking. Keep walking."
That's not typical behavior for an adult. It's definitely not typical behavior for a national politician. But it's typical behavior for a bully. In fact, it's not even very creative bullying. Anyone who's ever been a boy in an American middle school has heard "keep walking!"

What makes Christie unusual is that he's a bully with power. That can be a dangerous combination.

There have been previous hints that Christie's proclivity to publicly humiliate his opponents is matched by a tendency to privately punish them, too. On Dec. 24, the New York Times ran an article titled "Stories Add Up As Bully Image Trails Christie." It began with an anecdote of a New Jersey assemblyman who got a nasty note from Christie after making some relatively innocuous radio comments.

Quote :
The gesture would come to seem genteel compared with the fate suffered by others in disagreements with Mr. Christie: a former governor who was stripped of police security at public events; a Rutgers professor who lost state financing for cherished programs; a state senator whose candidate for a judgeship suddenly stalled; another senator who was disinvited from an event with the governor in his own district.
In almost every case, Mr. Christie waved off any suggestion that he had meted out retribution. But to many, the incidents have left that impression, and it has been just as powerful in scaring off others who might dare to cross him.

The bridge e-mails show that it's not just Christie. His aides are in on it, too. Christie staffer Bridget Anne Kelly e-mails David Wildstein, a Christie appointee on the Port Authority, saying, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” He's a bully with a staff of bullies.

It's entirely possible that Christie didn't know very much about the bridge episode. It might just be the product of the culture he's created, or permitted, to arise around him. What's dangerous for Christie, though, is that now every political reporter in the country will begin believing rumors of his punishments and hunting down evidence of his retaliation. And things Christie was able to do before to wide applause — like berate a schoolteacher and then have his staff upload it to YouTube — will begin feeding a very different kind of narrative.

Chris Christie rose because he's a bully. It might be why he falls, too.
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PostSubject: Re: Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields   Toxic Leadership, Self-Deception and Distortion Fields Empty1/9/2014, 11:23 pm

Transforming Toxic Leaders

Making the Impossible Possible in Troubled Organizations

by Dr. Alan Goldman

Botox Leadership: Beware When a Toxic Boss Rules

A nasty boss degrades employees when he rejects a Botox reflection in the mirror

Published on July 23, 2013 by Alan Goldman, Ph.D. in Transforming Toxic Leaders

Toxic bosses emanate. Their poison spreads out into every inch of the workplace. A case in point is Mr. Angel Pettigrew. He is a narcissistic boss who is so self-indulgent and subsumed with his recent Botox facial procedure that he unknowingly distorts workplace realities. His underlings do not know whether to smile, bow down deeper or just jump out of his regal way when he stampedes through the corridors. The dirty scoop is that Mr. Pettigrew recently checked himself out in his full length office mirror and did not like his Botox reflection. In the stark and crazy bright office lighting the wrinkles around his eyes appear to be even more pronounced than they were prior to the procedure.

Pettigrew is impatient. Prior to the Botox treatment he has had five facial plastic surgeries. He is a fifty something perfectionist and three times divorced lady’s man and he is certainly not happy when he does not get an instant Hollywood result from Botox injections. So proceed at your own risk. Whenever boss man’s narcissistic eye does not like himself or his reflection it is time to take cover. Subordinates will pay a hefty price. What’s right and wrong with Six Sigma, productivity, team work and R&D is all directly linked to how the mirror is treating Pettigrew on a given Wednesday morning.
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Burdened by his not so well concealed Narcissistic Personality Disorder (he was diagnosed with NPD, 11 years ago) the gentleman at the top of the pyramid wildly fluctuates in his leadership style. When Pettigrew is madly, truly, deeply in love with himself he is a conceited and occasionally loveable and fascinating stud. On the positive side of his toxic leader continuum, you find yourself under the wing of a nurturing, smug, self-consumed and adoring Prince. In contrast, the troubled, not-so-pretty-Pettigrew-in –the-mirror brings on the wrath of the wicked tornado winds of Kansas and the venom of a tortured snake about to consume his next victim, whole.

On the dark side of his leadership profile we find that this boss is all about the surface, fleeting facial and bodily images and the creepy omnipresence of his mirrors. A defective image means that the Dragon Man treats his employees in a condescending, arrogant, abrupt and cruel manner. Logic is a footnote. Reason is witchcraft and erratic proclamations are the dysfunctional norm. Underlings have a very basic choice under the terror of Mr. Pettigrew. You must aggressively support his every move and breadth no matter how repugnant or be publicly skewered, demeaned and humiliated.

When a toxic boss rules be prepared for dehumanizing edicts and reprimands. Loony, erratic and holier-than-thou leader tirades can define a boss who turns an organization increasingly toxic. In the case of Mr. Pettigrew, he intimidates and coyly threatens his top dogs. He also wields an untimely and ferocious influence on the flat-footed employees who smile and cower without backbone. Mr. Angel Pettigrew is a one man wrecking crew who metastasizes many times over and helps create deadly, destructive human clones throughout a company at his beck and call.

Creativity and innovation are stifled. Research and development is trivialized. Pledging allegiance to the narcissistic boss is the one commandment that dominates Pettigrew Unlimited. Devoured in trashy, belittling corporate doublespeak the employee productivity sinks to new, unprecedented lows. No legitimate vehicle allows for criticism of the toxic Pettigrew. The stronger employees whisper but keep their public mouths shut. Weaker organizational members twist and squirm when their intoxicated leader turns deadly destructive. Over 90% of his corporate soldiers cower at the thought of him. Those corporate soldiers who lack a mind of their own succumb to unethical and unscrupulous behavior to sustain and satisfy the Devil Man. Survival requires that you do not under any circumstances question his ruthlessness or dysfunctional vendettas. To stand up to Mr. Pettigrew is to face a beheading.

But wait, there’s more. Loss of face is at the nexus of what the Pettigrew toxicity is all about. Make the targeted employee a public spectacle and shred their every behavior, motive and accomplishment into smithereens, publicly denigrating them down to the bone marrow. This poisonous boss shames employees who have the audacity to not lick his boots or applaud his boundless charisma. If you fail to pay deep homage there is only the dark, darker, and darkest of alternatives. Pettigrew devours and destroys the renegade employee and burns them at the stake. Overwhelmed by his own importance the Pettigrew specie of boss publicly makes memorable spectacle of the non-compliant employee. Non-believers and non-subscribers are very high, higher, and highest on the toxic leader’s agenda. For the sake of blustering up his shaky ego and identifying a guilty party, this narcissistic personality disordered leader almost literally burns his targets at the stake. Only the most extreme and vicious varieties of defacement and public humiliation will do for that individual subordinate who dares to defy the illustrious one. Unyielding to Mr. Pettigrew’s mountainous charisma the plebian employee must be brought down to his knees, exposed and eliminated in a social murder of the first degree. Not one shred of self-respect should be left after the unworthy ones are eliminated. This toxic boss is a social murderer. Identity and reputations are subject to annihilation under the wrath of this extremely toxic boss. 

Toxicity means poisons spread. Emanating from a highly destructive and dysfunctional leader there are no limits to the reach and depth of venomous behavior.
What are the antidotes? First and foremost, don’t be naïve. No matter how bad the boss or how egregious his destructive behavior think carefully and cautiously research your options before you spew out “the truth.” Unfortunately, in the thoroughly political world of organizations it may in fact be quite dangerous to single out the toxic boss. Proceed at your own risk and peril. What is needed is what few organizations truly develop and utilize. Companies need an utterly discrete and anonymous system for providing critiques, reviews and complaints of their leaders. Unfortunately, most organizations nurture along broken, sham feedback systems that wind up chastising candid and outspoken employees. I can testify to the fact that there are an alarming number of bosses who are in bed with strategic players in human resource departments. If a naïve subordinate tells the truth about his boss that information is secretly divulged to a Mr. Pettigrew and your employment days may soon be over for officially bogus reasons. Suffice to say that very bad behavior at the top of the organizational hierarchy is typically guarded and reinforced like the gold reserves at Fort Knox.

The challenge is to devise mechanisms and channels that provide 100% protection for employee feedback allowing for the eventual identification and inevitable scrutinizing of the toxic boss. The toxic boss threat is quite formidable and is unfortunately representative of the human condition in the first half of the twenty-first century. Protected by the niceties of a relatively democratic, free-wheeling workplace, ruthless leaders are in our midst – sometimes harmlessly sharing their bad day – but in the more extreme cases they are contaminating and destroying employees due to more serious, long term psychopathology. 

In the case of Mr. Pettigrew, the whispers and anger of employees grow. They full well know that despite his prestigious MBA and wild Fortune 100 achievements that something is deeply and fundamentally wrong. Not surprising, they are quite correct. Over 11 years ago Mr. Pettigrew received a dual diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Intermittent Explosive Disorder. But in the wisdom of the mental health community – these diagnoses are privileged and protected. He maintains 100% confidentiality. This privileged status is only suspended and his identify and condition revealed if at some point he is officially declared a Danger to Self (DTS) or a Danger to Others (DTO). As it now stands, Mr. Pettigrew’s psychological condition is the driving force, the engine and the source of his destructive leadership practices directed at employees. And most recently Pettigrew’s dark side has been brought to the surface via his explosive, narcissistic response to Botox treatments. But unfortunately, this confidential information is only known to his treating psychologists. The outside workplace is clueless as to the source of his excessive and abusive behavior.  Meanwhile his employees are his daily targets and victims. Reason and logic are of very limited use. Something is wrong with this scenario! What say you?
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