Manfred Kets DeVries asked a few questions for the reader to consider before reading this book – The Leadership Mystique: Leading Behavior in the Human Enterprise. They were:
“Do you set your own goals when possible? Can you present complex issues to others in a clear and simplified way? Do you have a ‘Helicopter View’-that is, can you see the forest and not just the trees? Are you proud when you see the people you trained doing well? Do you feel that you bring out the best in each member of your team? Do you believe that people make an extra effort when working with you? Do you inspire trust in others? Are you self-critical about your own performance?” (Cover Insert)
Well, I answered yes to eight and a half questions. One was ‘most of the times.’ Now I got to read the book because I did not say ‘yes’ to all questions. Were you honest with your answers?
De Vries journeyed through the human mindset and its effect on an effective leadership. He identifies various personality types including narcissistic, paranoid, obsessive-compulsive, dependent, depressive, schizotypical, schizoid, antisocial, sadistic, passive-aggressive and more. I selected these personalities because of my work experience with them. The author states we must be aware of these dysfunctional behaviors. Then he addresses the cognitive left-brain and the emotional right–brain theories. I find myself fitting both and the author clarifies that we first learn right-brain communication as small children. (19) I wonder does that support my passion to work with young people. Jesus said, “Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 18:4. I believe I am in a good position since I am sometimes childlike.
De Vries then moves into a discussion on mood swings. He presents examples of leaders whom he identified with mood swings: King Saul, Martin Luther, Teddy Roosevelt, Beniot Mussolini, Winston Churchill, and General George Patton. He states that they exhibited signs of bipolar disorder. In the 1970’s we were participants of the movement “Mood Rings.” You wear the rings and the jewel in the ring would change colors according to your mood. We need to bring those back so that we can identify when the bipolar episode is coming. I did notice that he did not list women, and I respect him as being a smart man. That would bring up a women’s movement challenging his theory on mood swings. Can you think of a few?
De Vries discussed the Mussel Syndrome which identifies a leader who is unable to keep up with the times and adjust their views to be progressive and competitive in the worlds of competition. Sometimes you have to reinvent yourself to remain relevant – ‘reframing’. Then there’s the Dilbert phenomenon. He says people struggle to survive life in a cubicle.” (91) My job setup included the cubicle concept to promote privacy but in reality, it was to isolate you to increase your productivity. Some executives and managers had offices with doors. The organization also used cabinets as wall dividers.
Later De Vries pointed out the characteristics of an effective leader: “Surgency (assertive character), Sociability (social skills), receptivity (open to new), agreeableness (agreeable), dependability (conscientious), analytical intelligence (strategic), and emotional intelligence (empathy). All of these are competencies that are crucial to effective leadership.” (172) Lowney author of Heroic Leadership and Ken Blanchard author of The One Minute Manager used different characteristics (traits) of an effective leader from De Vries. They identified “coaching, supporting, directing and delegating.”  Lowney and Blanchard looked at the actions of a leader, whereas, De Vries looked at the personality of the leaders. He says that effective leadership in a global context must be developed. This is what I am seeking to develop, that is why I am in this great Doctor of Ministry Leadership and Global Perspective Program at Portland Seminary. You have to understand the culture, which covers the “Environment, Action orientation, emotion, language, space, relationships, power, thinking, and time.” (176-7)
De Vries spoke on the roles leaders play, a dynamic succession and leadership development. He seals it with “four H’s of effective leadership: hope, humanity, humility, and humor. Leaders must create hope, never forget they are human, remember they were not alone in success, and willing to laugh which is good for one’s mental health.” (263) There are so many books on leadership with similar and at times different approaches. Using these tools can be used in a non-profit organization setting but with caution. We must have compassion and forgiveness in the mix because we are, according to the bible, set apart from the characteristics of this world.
Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi, and Drea Zigarmi, Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Increasing Effectiveness Through Situational Leadership (New York, NY: William Morrow and Co., 1999), http://primarygoals.com/teams/books/one-minute-manager/