Master of Human Relations
Online Courses


Unit Three -- Leadership Interventions

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Kets de Vries covers everything from leadership and entrepreneurship to downsizing and managing acquisitions, using contemporary examples like Robert Maxwell, Jack Welch, Tom Peters, Robert Coles, and John Gardner.

Think About It!

Have you ever been in a dysfunctional organization? What are the symptoms?  Who exhibits them?

Do you think that one must be a bit tyrannical, strange, impractical, or unbalanced to be a truly charismatic leader?  What are some of the stereotypes that surround this?

How do your ideas about leadership limit your ability to be a follower and/or a leader?

What are the most important requirements for 
communicating a vision? Empassioned speeches? Producing a "wisdom text"? Mad ramblings?  Television specials? Unusual costuming?  Gaudy displays of wealth? Spectacles of power?  Spectacles of compassion?  Honesty in communication & absolute disclosure?

What if you were given a job to transform "Josie Average" into a charismatic figure -- the person who would inspire people to lay down their daily tasks & listen, and act … what would you do?  Step by step…?


Lecture Notes

With a different view to the much-studied subjects of leadership and the dynamics of individual and organisational change, this unit scrutinizes the interface between international management and psychoanalysis.
Kets De Vries' understanding of psychoanalysis provides great value to those looking to grasp an understanding of the internal and social dynamics; the unconscious and invisible processes that influence the behaviour of individuals and organizations. This unit explores and explains the essence of leadership and the characteristics of high-performance organizations to teach executives how to become better and more effective leaders.

Reading from Text
Life and Death in the Executive Fast Lane: Essays on Irrational Organizations and Their Leaders

Overview of Text
Either leaders have been prescreened for leadership according to personalities and skill bases that were once relevant to running businesses, but are now less relevant or effective. Kets de Vries likens the analytical managerial personality to the wild boars that frequent the forest surrounding Fontainebleau, where he teaches at the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD).

In another situation, leaders somehow get through the screening process with intact, balanced personalities, but are made miserable by the strictures their organizations impose and the crashing boars of the business world they must run with.

Either way, who they are and how they are allowed to be is a matter of life and death -- for the institutions they lead and for themselves personally. Something has to give, and Kets de Vries hopes it is the rigidity of the way we think of leadership.

Kets de Vries portrays organizations as having two identities. The first is the visible one apparent to everyone, with a discernible structure, line of command, job descriptions, mission, and set of policies.

The second is a submerged one, where all the psychological stuff swims together: who wields power and how, what the corporate culture is like, how groups interact, and what core conflictual relationship themes (Kets de Vries' terminology, CCRT for short) marble the organizational flesh. Examples of CCRTs: wanting to be admired; wanting to assert oneself and be independent; wanting to oppose, hurt, and control others, etc.

It is this submerged second identity of an organization that Kets de Vries deals with. To diagnose your organization's submerged self is to take its "emotional temperature." But it is murky terrain below the surface -- a place of shadows and Rorschach shapes that reveal different realities from different perspectives. The difficulty of making sense of the "inner theater" is probably a big reason why left-brain leaders pretend it doesn't even exist.

Online Readings

Symptoms of the Dysfunctional Organization

How to Revitalize a Dysfunctional Organization

The Balance of Leadership and Followership Working Papers

How and Why Active Followers Matter in Leadership

Leading and Empowering Diverse Followers

Leadership Styles

Four Charismatic Religious Leaders: A Study

Charismatic Leadership for America:  Psychology &

Manfred Kets de Vries