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Today's business leaders maintain a higher profile than their predecessors did in the 1950s through the 1980s. Rather than hide behind the corporate veil, they give interviews to magazines like Business Week, Time, and The Economist. According to psychoanalyst, anthropologist, and consultant Michael Maccoby, this love of the limelight often stems from their personalities—in a narcissistic personality. That is both good and bad news: Narcissists are good for companies that need people with vision and the courage ...
Today's business leaders maintain a higher profile than their predecessors did in the 1950s through the 1980s. Rather than hide behind the corporate veil, they give interviews to magazines like Business Week, Time, and The Economist. According to psychoanalyst, anthropologist, and consultant Michael Maccoby, this love of the limelight often stems from their personalities—in a narcissistic personality. That is both good and bad news: Narcissists are good for companies that need people with vision and the courage to take them in new directions. But narcissists can also lead companies into trouble by refusing to listen to the advice and warnings of their managers. So what can the narcissistic leader do to avoid the traps of his own personality? Maccoby argues that today’s most innovative leaders are not consensus-building bureaucrats; they are “productive narcissists” with the interrelated set of skills —foresight, systems thinking, visioning, motivating, and partnering—that he terms “strategic intelligence.” Maccoby redefines the negative stereotype as the personality best suited to lead during times of rapid social and economic change.
Posted June 5, 2003
My home library shelves are cluttered with many of the best selling books that present varied and conflicting leadership theories. Very often, those best selling theories are presented in popular and simplistic terms that appeal to wishful thinking but are not very applicable in the workplace. Maccoby cuts through the leadership literature clutter with a very clearly reasoned and persuasively presented vision of leadership. It is a very insightful and integrated vision based on 30+ years of practical field research and experience as a consultant, anthropologist, psychologist and leadership coach. As a Director of Human Resources with 20 years of experience, I found Maccoby's description of the narcissistic leader and other personality types to be a useful aid to understanding CEOs, Presidents, Vice-President and other leaders who were difficult to relate to and eluded explanation. Maccoby's self-inventory and descriptions of Freud's and Fromm's personality types are also pragmatic tools for any managers and would be leaders who are interested in understanding themselves and in developing their ability to partner effectively with other personality types. Maccoby's elegant writing style and use of entertaining poignant illustrations from productive narcissists we know and love make his analysis of the personality types and strategic thinking entertaining, lively and dynamic... without losing sight of what is practical. What you learn from reading this book may not leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, but it is very useful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 18, 2003
Three stars is a compromise between the deeply flawed - and even dangerous - 'advice' offered by the author - and the impressive scholarly overview it is embedded in. The book purports to teach us how to harness this force of nature known as malignant or pathological narcissism. Narcissists are driven, visionary, ambitious, exciting and productive, says Maccoby. To ignore such a resource is a criminal waste. All we need to do is learn how to 'handle' them. As the author of 'Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited', I had the chance to work with thousands of narcissists and their victims, including in corporate settings. Maccoby's prescription is either naive or disingenuous. Narcissists cannot be 'handled' or 'managed' or 'contained' or 'channeled'. They are, by definition, incapable of team work. They lack empathy, are exploitative, envious, haughty and feel entitled, even if such a feeling is commensurate only with their grandiose fantasies. Narcissists dissemble, conspire, destroy and self-destruct. Their drive is compulsive, their vision rarely grounded in reality, their human relations a calamity. In the long run, there is no enduring benefit to dancing with narcissists - only ephemeral and, often, fallacious, 'achievements'.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 17, 2003
Michael Maccoby's fascinating book shows that narcissism is normal and productive in the visionary leaders he describes and analyzes. Even as a colleague who knows his other books, I can say honestly this is a bold and stimulating book. It is well written and enjoyable to read. He describes clearly why at this time of economic transformation these visionaries are playing such an important role in society, business, and science. Maccoby reveals key elements in the life stories and innovative work of such leaders as Jack Welch, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Frank Lloyd Wright, Steve Jobs, Esther Dyson, Andy Grove, Steve Case, Craig Ventner, among others whose names are well known and in the media almost daily. Many books talk about people suffering from malignant narcissism who are so sick they could not lead corporations or make groundbreaking discoveries or creations. Michael Maccoby has written about normal narcissistic character like that of visionary leaders such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Charles de Gaulle, and Mohandas Gandhi. Maccoby shows why these leaders are effective, and also how to work with them. The book includes a survey which readers can take to understand themselves in terms of the four normal types of character, narcissist being one, the book also describes. Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor, University of Southern California, an authoritative writer on leadership himself, says about this book: 'An original and insightful addition to leadership studies. Maccoby redresses a balance long needed to fully understand the practice of leadership.'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.