Magazine article Workforce Management

Narcissism in the C-Suite

Magazine article Workforce Management

Narcissism in the C-Suite

Article excerpt

5 Questions MANFRED KETS DE VRIES, director, INSEAD Global Leadership Centre

Workforce Management: What is executive narcissism, and what role has it played in the current financial troubles?

Manfred Ketf de Vries: Part of it is we reward our executives for short-term results. There are very few executives who look at the long run. It has to do also with the greed factor. When you get 30 to 40 million dollars a year, it's totally obscene. Also, when you are at the top of an organization, people start to behave funny. On powerful figures, we project unrealistic expectations, unrealistic results. Powerful figures start to get stripped of reality. And before you know it, they are like Hitler in the bunker. They don't get the information anymore.

Also, those people feel, "If I get $30 million for this year, that's fine. I deserve it." You start to believe that "Rules aren't for me. I am beyond the rules." The present financial breakdown presents a very interesting combination of greed, fear, envy, distrust and then mass hysteria.

WM: What are the main things CEOs have to do?

Kets de Vries: One is focus, providing focus. The second one is to get the best out of people. The third one is integrity. And the fourth one is courage. Also, they have to rebuild trust. In Europe at least, the pay packages CEOs have been getting that are obscene are going to be very seriously reduced. Leadership is team-oriented.

WM: Is a different style of leadership needed to regain trust?

Kets de Vries: When you talk about best places to work, they usually are more women-friendly, and they usually have a more coaching culture. …

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