Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Leadership Emotions

Written by: on October 24, 2019

Kets de Vries is a Dutch management scholar and psychoanalyst, Professor of leadership development and organizational change at INSEAD, and consultant.[1]He takes all his various spheres of knowledge. Then he examines how people in positions of leadership project their personal neuroses[2] in his book Down the Rabbit Hole of Leadership, Pathology in Everyday Life.

The book is divided into two parts. Part One, “takes a macro-perspective in trying to better understand dystopian tendencies by focusing on leadership issues,” and part two, “looks beyond the vicissitudes of leadership to focus on the psychopathology of everyday life in organizations[3] Underlining all of his findings and propositions, Vries uses three frameworks as he examines our current leaders and leadership culture.

Framework one is the psychodynamic-systemic framework. He argues for the belief that there is a rational and logical explanation for every human action. He also brings to attention the fact that while our feelings and emotions lie outside our conscious awareness, they still affect our reality, and it is vitally important how we manage them. Finally, in this framework, it is also important to note that inter – and intrapersonal connections enforce human development.

The second framework he employs is evolutionary psychology understanding of the changeability of human behavior. The benefit he sees in this framework is that it provides the research with a long view of human development. Finally, the third framework is neuroscience. While he does caution becoming invested in neuroscience for all the answers on how the brain works, he also points the benefits saying,

Mindless neuroscience is not going to be the answer to understand the functioning of the human mind. We might hope that neuroscience will not turn out to be an explanatory fad. That being said, in the years to come, neuroscience could evolve in such a way as to yield solid predictions about how genetics and brain conditions, and all of their complex aggregates and interactions, can influence a specific individual’s specific choices at particular times.[4]

I was reminded while reading this book of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt and his three metaphors for why moral judgments stem from emotional feelings rather than rational reasoning. In particularly his third metaphor that humans are 90% chimp and 10% bee because morality binds and blinds.[5] Haidt leans more into the evolutionary understanding of natural selection than I would agree. Still, I do agree that we are bent toward selfish desires over love and putting others above ourselves, which is why I believe we must understand our emotions and learn how to manage them so that they do not master us. Vries deals with a very topic as he talks about empathy in leadership.

Vries writes,

Empathy is a key dimension of emotional intelligence, that is, the ability to recognize our emotions, understand what they’re telling us, and to realize how they affect people around us. It’s a core component in every human relationship – a cornerstone of interpersonal effectiveness. Empathy helps us understand the unspoken elements of our communication with others. It enables us to be more effective at collaboration and finding solutions.[6]

As we read in Friedman last week, it is essential not to allow empathy to take away the responsibility of the other, practicing empathy is a key in leadership and will continue to be important as the world becomes more digital and therefore distance and the unspoken will carry more weight in communication.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manfred_F.R._Kets_de_Vries

[2] Kets de Vries, Manfred F. R. Down the Rabbit Hole of Leadership: Leadership Pathology in Everyday Life. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019, 5.

[3].” Ibid., 9.

[4] Ibid., 13.

[5] Lucas, Margery. “Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.” Society 50, no. 1 (February 2013): 88. http://search.ebscohost.com.georgefox.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=84935903&scope=site.

[6] Kets de Vries, Manfred F. R. Down the Rabbit Hole of Leadership: Leadership Pathology in Everyday Life, 130-131.


About the Author

Mario Hood

Most importantly, I am married to the love of my life, Misty Hood, and I'm kept on my toes all day every day, by my son Dalen and daughter Cola Hood. I also serve as the Next Generation Pastor at Church On The Living Edge in Orlando, Florida, under the leadership of Senior Pastor, Dr. Mark Chironna as well as being a Youth and Family Life coach.

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