Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries

Manfred Kets De Vries is a clinical professor of leadership development and a consultant on organizational design/transformation and strategic human resource management to leading worldwide companies. He holds the Raoul de Vitry d'Avaucourt Chair of Leadership Development at 'Instead', Fontainebleau, France. He has also held professorships at McGill University, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales, Montreal, and the Harvard Business School, and he has lectured at management institutions around the world. He is the author, co-author, or editor of over 20 books. The Financial Times, Le Capital, Wirtschaftswoche, and The Economist have judged Manfred Kets de Vries one of Europe's leading management thinkers.
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The challenge faced by family businesses and their stakeholders, is to recognise the issues that they face, understand how to develop strategies to address them and more importantly, to create narratives, or family stories that explain the emotional dimension of the issues to the family. The most intractable family business issues are not the business problems the organisation faces, but the emotional issues that compound them. Applying psychodynamic concepts will help to explain behaviour and will enable the family to prepare for life cycle transitions and other issues that may arise.

Here is a new understanding and a broader perspective on the human dynamics of family firms with two complementary frameworks, psychodynamic and family systematic, to help make sense of family-run organisations. Although this book includes a conceptual section, it is first and foremost a practical book about the real world issues faced by business families.

The book begins by demonstrating that many years of achievement through generations can be destroyed by the next, if the family fails to address the psychological issues they face. By exploring cases from famous and less well known family businesses across the world, the authors discuss entrepreneurs, the entrepreneurial family and the lifecycles of the individual and the organisation. They go on to show how companies going through change and transition can avoid the pitfalls that endanger both family and company. The authors then apply tools that will help family businesses in transition and offer their analyses and conclusions.

Readers should draw their own conclusions from careful examination of the cases, identifying the problems or dilemmas faced and the options for improved business performance and family relationships. They should ask what they might have done in the given situation and what new insight into individual or family behaviour each case offers. The goal is to avoid a bitter ending.

This engaging study of the life of Alexander the Great, the charismatic leader who created an empire that spanned most of the ancient world, provides an in-depth look at the psychodynamics of leadership that will be of use to contemporary leaders in business and politics, and to consulting and training organisations.In the first part of the book, the authors weave the fascinating tale of Alexander's life, whilst highlighting his considerable leadership skills. They then analyse Alexander's personality and behaviour from a clinical perspective to demonstrate the psychological forces that shaped those leadership qualities. They look at the key facets of Alexander's leadership technique in detail, as a practical demonstration of effective leadership, an conclude by cataloguing Alexander's strengths and, just as importantly, his weaknesses for the vital lessons in leadership.This volume provokes both introspection and inspiration in the minds of its readers. It is vital reading for all managers and management consultants, MBA students, and all concerned with effective leadership.'In analysing Alexander's personality and behaviour, this book takes a clinical perspective. It relies on concepts of the developmental psychology, family systems theory, cognitive theory, dynamic psychiatry, psychotherapy, and psychoanalysis to understand his behaviour and actions. Exploring themes that highlight psychological dimensions of Alexander's leadership style, these pages draw observations about the lessons of leadership that can be learned from his behaviour.'- From the Introduction
"Manfred Kets de Vries is in a unique and special position to analyze leadership, human development, behavior, and what it takes to be an outstanding leader. Manfred's book, like all his other works, is worth reading several times, preserving it for reading again and again and to reflect and learn." - B Muthuraman, Managing Director, Tata Steel Ltd.

"At a very practical level [Manfred Kets de vries] has affected for the better the lives of probably more leaders-and therefore their followers-than anyone else alive. In this book, in an empathic and thoroughly compelling way, he draws on his long coaching career and deeply personal experiences of his own to throw light on leadership, the relationship between leaders and followers, and the challenges we all must face. If you care about these things (and who does not?). you will not be able to put this book down." - John Whitehead, Secretary to the Treasury, New Zealand

"This book is  a real Bible for anyone striving not only to live with, but to comprehend all the subtleties, ideals, and life roles of a leader in modern society." - Nicholas Chitov, CEO of City Mortgage Bank

"Through the clinical lens which Manfred Kets de Vries so aptly applies to business settings, the reader is guaranteed to meet himself, and-who knows-intrigued to go further on the journey of self-examination." - Philippe Haspeslagh, Dean, Vlerick Leuven gent Management School

"In this important book, [Manfred Kets de Vries] pauses to look back and review what he has learned over the years. The result is remarkably insightful on several counts; readers will learn much on leadership and career development. they will also better understand the personal and professional development of a giant among leadership scholars." - Jean-Francois Manzoni, Professor of Leadership and Organizational development, IMD

"Through a unique understanding of the 'inner theater,' Manfred Kets de Vries provokes leaders to reflect on drivers of their behavior and of those around them. This book provides insight o the tools needed to create high performance teams and achieve personal fulfillment throughout a journey in leadership." - Paul Geason, group Managing Director, Telstra

"Whether you are a leader or a follower, after having read this book you will be the opposite, or both. And if not, you will at least understand the neurotic leader, whether it is in your boos, or in yourself. Maybe even in your spouse." - Christian Dreyer, CEO, Hansen Sicherheitstechnik AG, Munich

"This new book is a collection of Manfred's intelligence and wisdom. His concept of constructive narcissism will help a lot of leaders to understand themselves and others. Manfred is like good wine, the older the better." - Salem Samhoud, Founder, & Samhoud

"In his latest book, Manfred Kets de Vries successfully combines his versatility of roles-as an academic entrepreneur, psychoanalyst, consultant, leadership coach, and professor-to produce an academic classic on leadership from eh perspective of career development." - Vaseehar Hassan, Chairman, Unicorn International Islamic Bank, Malaysia

Reflections on Character and Leadership is the first of the three books in the Manfred kets de Vries on the Couch series.

Here, Kets de Vries looks at entrepreneurship, the pathology of leadership, and the personality of the leader. The reader will visit the disturbed inner worlds of leaders like Alexander the Great, Shaka Zulu and Robert Maxwell, discover how to distinguish between a cold fish and a live volcano, and identify impostors, despots, organizational fools and global leaders.

The book highlights the basic principles of the clinical paradigm—the process of putting organizations and the individuals who lead them on the psychoanalyst’s couch. It includes studies of personality archetypes and the effects they have on organizational life and culture—and the effects that organizations have on them. Referring frequently to key management concepts, Kets de Vries looks not only at what happens when things go wrong, but also at how to create the psychological and organizational space to make sure that things go right.

About the series:

The series offers an overview of Kets de Vries’s work spanning four decades, a period in which he has established himself as the leading figure in the clinical study of organizational leadership.

The books in this series contain a representative selection of Kets de Vries’ writings about leadership from a wide variety of published sources and cover character and leadership in a global context, career development and leadership in organizations. The original essays were all written or published between 1976 and 2008. Updated where appropriate and revised by the author, they present a digest of the work of one of the most influential management thinkers of the present day.

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