Audio Interview

Why some leaders thrive and others derail

Published on June 15, 2022   30 min

Other Talks in the Playlist: Interviews with business leaders and scholars

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Interviewer: Today I'm speaking to Professor Manfred Kets de Vries. Professor of Leadership, Development, and Organizational Change at INSEAD. Professor, thank you for sparing the time for this interview. You've done a lot of work on why some leaders lose the plot. To start, three direct questions. What makes a leader effective? Why do some leaders derail? How common is the phenomenon? Prof. Kets de Vries: By the way, I'm a professor at INSEAD, which is a funny place in the forest of Fontainebleau, as well as being in Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and now also in San Francisco. The original purpose of the school was to bring peace to the world. But coming back to your question, 600 years before Christ, there was a Greek Sage who was asked, what is the most difficult thing in the world? Something which was also written on the Temple of Apollo in ancient Thebes, and the answer, of course, was 'know thyself'. It is one of the things which is not always easy for the executives I deal with. Once a year, I run what I call a CEO recycling seminar, in which I take around 21 executives, senior ones, not always CEOs, but crown princes and whatever, and they want to become somewhat more effective leaders. For years, you know, I don't believe in shortcuts because people learn something, have to work, et cetera. But one of the things is that many of them don't know themselves. Know thyself is, I think, one of the most important things for executives. I always say that leadership is a team sport, meaning that you cannot do it alone,