Manfred Kets de Vries

papers
WORKING PAPERS

Dream Journeys: New Territory for Executive Coaching
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2014)
2014/14/EFE

Leadership coaches need to understand how their clients think and experience emotions. They have to be skilled at detecting and evaluating the psychological strengths and challenges that can help or hinder their clients’ development as a leader. Leadership coaches need to take a holistic approach to the information clients present, which means considering information from both their waking and dreaming life.

To help executives with their journey into their own interior, I suggest that leadership coaches should also pay attention to their clients’ dreamtime. The dreams that occur during their clients’ “night journeys” can offer useful clues about their main preoccupations and concerns. Reflecting on how the feelings in their clients’ dreams relate to what’s happening in their waking life, will help leadership coaches and their clients better recognize and address their internal struggles and challenges, and figure out what is most on their mind. Making sense of dreams can be a very powerful problem-solving and inspirational tool, offering a pathway to out-of-awareness preoccupations. This relatively unexplored territory is the main focus of this article, in which I also take into consideration various theories about dreaming.

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Death and the Executive: Encounters with the “Stealth” Motivator
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2014)
2014/11/EFE

Death anxiety is a primary motivational force that drives much of our behavior. It puts our defenses on high alert, and we make strenuous efforts to repress or deny the unwelcome truth of our inevitable end. The way each of us denies death not only affects life in its broadest sense but also influences the way we behave in organizations. Death anxiety underlies much executive behavior and action.

However, traditional motivational theories do not acknowledge the influence of death anxiety on our behavior. Although they attempt to help us better understand employee motivation, they are not sufficiently inclusive. This article takes a clinical lens to explore death anxiety as a motivational force, how it affects behavior in organizations, and how we metabolize the feelings death evokes.

In addition, I examine the various ways we deal with our knowledge of death. Some of us go into overdrive in trying to suppress it, while others fall into a state of resignation and depression. To deal with the ultimate narcissistic injury that death represents, we resort to a variety of immortality strategies to create permanent or enduring meaning. Furthermore, from an organizational perspective, three maladaptive responses to death anxiety are explored: the manic defense, succession issues, and the edifice complex.

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The Art of Forgiveness: Differentiating Transformational Leaders
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2013)
2013/52/EFE

This article explores the subject of forgiveness and its importance in the context of leadership. Forgiveness is one of the factors that differentiates exceptional from mediocre or ineffective leadership. When leaders forgive, they dissipate built-up anger, bitterness and the animosity that can color individual, team, and organizational functioning. Forgiveness offers people the chance to take risks, to be creative, to learn and to grow in their own leadership. Individuals, organizations, institutions, and societies can progress when people are not preoccupied by past hurts.

After taking Nelson Mandela as an example of a leader who practiced forgiveness on a transformational scale, a “forgiveness questionnaire” helps readers to assess their own ability and inclination to forgive. The Lex Talionis or law of retribution, emerges, however, as an essential part of the human condition. To understand forgiveness dynamics, its meaning is deconstructed; the forgiving personality is analyzed, and forgiving and unforgiving leaders are compared using traditional conceptual frameworks and a psychodynamic lens. The journey toward forgiveness and its various stages is explored, and pseudo-forgiveness described, with a warning that forgiving doesn’t imply merely forgetting. The mental and physical costs of a non-forgiving Weltanschauung are discussed, and suggestions are made for how to become more forgiving, a process wherein self-reflection, self-understanding, and self-expression take a central position.

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The Attachment Imperative: The Kiss of the Hedgehog
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2013)
2013/51/EFE

We are all products of attachment behavior. Each attachment with our primary caregiver forms the blueprint that determines the way we see ourselves and how we regulate our behavior toward others. Furthermore, the same behavioral system that underlies the dynamics of the infant-caregiver relationship appears to be applicable to adult relationship behavior, influencing the encounter between people in both personal and work environments. Attachment is a common thread that influences our interactions with others throughout our lifetime. These working models of relationships can be positive (i.e. people can be trusted, confided in, helpful in distress) or negative (i.e. no one can be trusted, people are not really caring, one is all alone in the world), contributing to relational distress and interpersonal difficulties.

The objective of this article is to explore the evolution and function of attachment in the context of adult relationships. I explore childhood and adult attachment scenarios, two basic models of which are moving toward people or moving away from them (apart from the scenario of secure attachment). The first (which has been termed anxious-ambivalent) manifests itself through intense protest or energetic efforts to regain proximity; the second (avoidant) is characterized by the suppression or denial of attachment needs and the maintenance of distance in relationships. (Avoidant types are further differentiated into fearful and dismissive avoidant.) A questionnaire offers a quick assessment of individual attachment style. I end with suggestions on how to engage in interventions for change.

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Get Back in the Sandbox: Teaching CEOs how to Play
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2012)
2012/125/EFE

This article discusses the role of play in human creativity. Play has always played an essential part in the evolution of Homo sapiens. Play helps children to develop mentally, physically and socially. Play, artistic expression, creativity, and evolutionary human development have been closely allied. Play has been the foundation of language, myths, rituals, behavior, and meaning. However, play is usually seen as a feature of childhood. How important is play for adults? Has our playfulness been dissipated by cultural indoctrination?

In this article, I argue that the proclivity to play remains an essential part of our make-up throughout our life and that we should make greater efforts to retain play as a mode of learning and the source of creative production. In this context, I explore the role of play at work and the association between play and “flow”—our periods of peak productivity. I propose an acronym—MMMM—to describe the essence of play, the four Ms standing for Me-time, Make-belief, Mastery, and Meaning.

I discuss the importance of transitional objects and transitional space in the context of play and meaning. Our earliest meaning-making activities have their origins in the early developmental trajectory formed by the interaction of mothers (or other caretakers) and infants. In this interface, through play, an intermediate area (third domain of functioning) is created where primary creativity (illusion) exists and can develop. Finally, I take the example of an adult educational leadership program that uses organizational play therapy as a means of individual reinvention.

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The Psychopath in the C Suite: Redefining the SOB
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2012)
2012/119/EFE

Meet the SOB—Seductive Operational Bully—or psychopath “lite.” SOBs don’t usually end up in jail or psychiatric hospital but they do thrive in an organizational setting. SOBs can be found wherever power, status, or money is at stake. Outwardly normal, apparently successful and charming, their inner lack of empathy, shame, guilt, or remorse, has serious interpersonal repercussions, and can destroy organizations. Their great adaptive qualities mean they often reach top executive positions, especially in organizations that appreciate impression management, corporate gamesmanship, risk taking, coolness under pressure, domination, competitiveness, and assertiveness. The ease with which SOBs rise to the top raises the question whether the design of some organizations makes them a natural home for psychopathic individuals. This article begins with an elaborate example of such an individual, and notes the deep divide that distinguishes people without a conscience from the general population.

Most studies have resorted to a deficit theory to explain psychopathic behavior—something has gone with the wiring in the emotional part of the brain. Here, however, I suggest that nurture can also play a role in the etiology of psychopathy. The article explores ways of identifying and dealing with SOBs from an organizational and individual perspective, and recommends a clinical orientation to organizational diagnosis and intervention.

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Are you a Victim of the Victim Syndrome?
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2012)
2012/70/EFE

People who suffer from the victim syndrome are always complaining about the “bad things that happen” in their lives. Because they believe they have no control over the way events unfold, they don’t feel a sense of responsibility for them. One moment, they present themselves dramatically as victims; the next, they morph into victimizers, hurting the people trying to help them and leaving would-be helpers with a sense of utter frustration.

People with a victim mentality display passive-aggressive characteristics when interacting with others. Their behavior has a self-defeating, almost masochistic quality. The victim style becomes a relational mode—a life affirming activity: I am miserable therefore I am.

In this article, I present three examples of people with this syndrome and a checklist that can be used to identify sufferers. I also discuss the concept of secondary gain—the “benefits” people get from perpetuating a problem—and the developmental origins of the victim mind-set. The article ends with advice on how to help people who suffer from the victim syndrome.

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The Group Coaching Conundrum
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2012)
2012/53/EFE

The first part of this article is an account of a coach’s reflections on leadership group coaching. It explains the road toward becoming a group coach. It describes elements of this inner journey: what coaches are running from, and to, and why—to penetrate the mystery that is the self.
The second part of the article reflects on what makes group coaching such an effective intervention technique. In group intervention, two dynamics occur simultaneously: first, there are the dynamic processes applicable to the individual in the hot seat whose life and career are discussed; second, and simultaneously, there are “cloud” issues, themes that the group-as-a-whole brings to the table. It introduces the notion of the clinical paradigm, a psychodynamic lens that can be turned on our inner theater, and describes seven premises that characterize this paradigm. The article also highlights a number of other psychodynamic processes that take place during the group coaching process, creating tipping points for change.

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Psychodynamic Issues in Organizational Leadership
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Elizabeth Florent-Treacy & Konstantin Korotov (2011)
2011/121/EFE
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Coaching’s “Good Hour”: Creating Tipping Points
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2011)
2011/94/EFE/IGLC
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Leadership Coaching and the Rescuer Syndrome: How to Manage both Sides of the Couch
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2010)
2010/104/EFE/IGLC
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People-Friendly Organizations: Why we need an alternative default model
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries & Engellau, Elisabet (2010)
2010/95/EFE/IGLC
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Developing Leaders and Leadership Development
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries & Konstantin Korotov (2010)
2010/77/EFE/IGLC
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Transformational Leadership Development Programs: Creating Long-term Sustainable Change
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries & Konstantin Korotov (2010)
2010/72/EFE/IGLC
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Reaching Stardom: How to Identify and Develop Top Performers
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2009)
2010/75/EFE/IGLC
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Action and Reflection: The Emotional Dance between Consultant and Client
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2009)
2009/21/EFE/IGLC
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The Many Colors of Success: What do Executives Want out of Life?
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2009)
2009/19/EFE/IGLC
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Organizational Culture, Leadership, Change, and Stress
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Laura Guillen Ramo, Konstantin Korotov (2008)
2009/10/EFE/IGLC
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Development and Application of the Leadership Archetype Questionnaire (revised version of 2007/40/EFE)
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Pierre Vrignaud, Anupam Agrawal, and Elizabeth Florent-Treacy (2007)
2009/15/EFE
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Leadership Coaching and Organizational Transformation: Effectiveness in a World of Paradoxes
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2008)
2008/71/EFE
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Long-term Effectiveness of a Transitional Leadership Development Program: An Exploratory Study
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Thomas Hellwig, Elizabeth Florent-Treacy,
Laura Guillen Ramo, Konstantin Korotov (2008)
2008/24/EFE

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The Proof is in the Pudding: An integrative, psychodynamic approach to evaluating a leadership development program
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Pierre Vrignaud, Elizabeth Florent-Treacy, Laura Guillen Ramo, Konstantin Korotov (2008)
2008/38/EFE

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Can CEOs Change? Yes, but only if they want to
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries (2007)
2007/36/ENT

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Development and Application of the Leadership Archetype Questionnaire
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Pierre Vrignaud, Anupam Agrawal, and Elizabeth Florent-Treacy (2007)
2007/40/EFE

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INSEAD Global Leadership Centre: 360-Degree Feedback Instruments: An Overview
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries, Pierre Vrignaud, Elizabeth Florent-Treacy and Konstantin Korotov (2007)
2007/01/EFE

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Are You Feeling Mad, Bad, Sad, or Glad?
2007/09/EFE

In this article, the theme of countertransference will be taken beyond the couch and applied to the consultancy or coaching setting. How consultants or coaches can use themselves as a source of information when dealing with their clients will be explored-that is, how they can use their own reactions to help them interpret, in dyadic situations, what the client is trying to transmit to them. To aid in that purpose, the article will also touch on the concepts of transference and projective identification, concepts grounded in early mother-infant communication and essential to "listening with the third ear." Four forms of the transference- countertransference interface between coach/consultant and client will be presented in these pages. Suggestions will be offered regarding what coaches and consultants need to pay attention to when listening to their clients. In addition, dysfunctional communication patterns will be explored.

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Creating Identity Laboratories to Enable Executive Change and Transformation
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries and Konstantin Korotov
2006/36/EFE

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Vladimir Putin, CEO of Russia Inc.
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries and Stanislav Shekshnia
2005/56/ENT

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Leadership Archetypes: An exposition
By Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries
2006/75/ENT
Publication forthcoming in Organizational Dynamics

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