Political Leadership for the New Century: Personality and Behavior among American Leaders

By Linda O. Valenty; Ofer Feldman | Go to book overview

Chapter 9

John F. Kennedy as Dramatic Leader

Robert E. Gilbert

INTRODUCTION
In their provocative book The Neurotic Organization, Manfred Kets de Vries and Danny Miller (1984) offer a novel method for studying the impact of neurotic leadership styles on organizations. They identify five types of aberrant personality, derived from the psychoanalytic and psychiatric literature (Fenichel, 1945; Laplanche&Pontalis, 1973; Shapiro, 1965) and suggest that the difference between the neurotic and the normal is largely one of degree rather than intrinsic variation. Human behavior tends to reflect several different styles, with each being triggered by different sets of circumstances. However, one style tends to dominate and is likely to impact the structure and culture of the organization that the executive leads. Extreme displays of any style can produce pathological behavior and organizational leadership that is badly flawed and dysfunctional. The five personality styles identified by Kets de Vries and Miller are compulsive, depressive, dramatic, paranoid, and schizoid (Kets de Vries&Miller, 1984:24–25). Each has its own dominant characteristics as follows:
Compulsive—concentration on trivial details, perfectionism, meticulousness, dogmatism, obstinacy, lack of spontaneity, insistence that others submit to own way of doing things;
Depressive—sense of helplessness and hopelessness; feelings of guilt and worthlessness; loss of interest and motivation; inability to experience pleasure; feelings of inadequacy;

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