Jeoff Bezoz Chief Executive Officer of Amazon comparison

Please read and apply from the attached article and write about how it compares to Jeoff Bezoz (Chief Executive Officer of Amazon) as a leader.Please cite all the sources

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Many leaders dominating
business today have what
psychoanalysts call a
narcissistic personality.
That’s good news for
companies that need passion
and daring to break new
ground. But even productive
narcissists can be dangerous
for organizations. Here is
some advice on avoiding the
HBR 2000
Narcissistic Leaders
The Incredible Pros, the Inevitable Cons
by Michael Maccoby
Reprint R0401J
Many leaders dominating business today have what psychoanalysts
call a narcissistic personality. That’s good news for companies that
need passion and daring to break new ground. But even productive
narcissists can be dangerous for organizations. Here is some advice on
avoiding the dangers.
B E S T O F H B R 20 0 0
Narcissistic Leaders
The Incredible Pros, the Inevitable Cons
by Michael Maccoby
When Michael Maccoby wrote this article, which
was first published in early 2000, the business world
was still under the spell of the Internet and its revolutionary promise. It was a time, Maccoby wrote, that
called for larger-than-life leaders who could see the
big picture and paint a compelling portrait of a dramatically different future. And that, he argued, was
one reason we saw the emergence of the superstar
CEOs—the grandiose, actively self-promoting, and
genuinely narcissistic leaders who dominated the
covers of business magazines at that time. Skilled orators and creative strategists, narcissists have vision
and a great ability to attract and inspire followers.
The times have changed, and we’ve learned a lot
about the dangers of overreliance on big personalities, but that doesn’t mean narcissism can’t be a useful leadership trait. There’s certainly a dark side to
narcissism—narcissists, Freud told us, are emotionally isolated and highly distrustful. They’re usually
poor listeners and lack empathy. Perceived threats
can trigger rage. The challenge today—as Maccoby
understood it to be four years ago—is to take advantage of their strengths while tempering their weaknesses.
harvard business review • january 2004
There’s something new and daring about the
CEOs who are transforming today’s industries.
Just compare them with the executives who
ran large companies in the 1950s through the
1980s. Those executives shunned the press and
had their comments carefully crafted by corporate PR departments. But today’s CEOs—
superstars such as Bill Gates, Andy Grove,
Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, and Jack Welch—hire
their own publicists, write books, grant spontaneous interviews, and actively promote
their personal philosophies. Their faces adorn
the covers of magazines like BusinessWeek,
Time, and the Economist. What’s more, the
world’s business personalities are increasingly
seen as the makers and shapers of our public
and personal agendas. They advise schools on
what kids should learn and lawmakers on how
to invest the public’s money. We look to them
for thoughts on everything from the future of
e-commerce to hot places to vacation.
There are many reasons today’s business
leaders have higher profiles than ever before.
One is that business plays a much bigger role
page 1
Narcissistic Leaders • B EST OF HBR 2000
Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist
and a psychoanalyst. He is also the
founder and president of the Maccoby
Group, a management consultancy in
Washington, DC, and was formerly director of the Program on Technology,
Public Policy, and Human Development at Harvard University’s Kennedy
School of Government in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. This article was the
basis for the book The Productive Narcissist: The Promise and Peril of Visionary Leadership (Broadway Books,
harvard business review • january 2004
in our lives than it used to, and its leaders are
more often in the limelight. Another is that
the business world is experiencing enormous
changes that call for visionary and charismatic
leadership. But my 25 years of consulting both
as a psychoanalyst in private practice and as an
adviser to top managers suggest a third reason—namely, a pronounced change in the personality of the strategic leaders at the top. As
an anthropologist, I try to understand people
in the context in which they operate, and as a
psychoanalyst, I tend to see them through a
distinctly Freudian lens. Given what I know, I
believe that the larger-than-life leaders we are
seeing today closely resemble the personality
type that Sigmund Freud dubbed narcissistic.
“People of this type impress others as being
‘personalities,’” he wrote, describing one of the
psychological types that clearly fall within the
range of normality. “They are especially suited
to act as a support for others, to take on the
role of leaders, and to give a fresh stimulus to
cultural development or damage the established state of affairs.”
Throughout history, narcissists have always
emerged to inspire people and to shape the future. When military, religious, and political
arenas dominated society, it was figures such
as Napoléon Bonaparte, Mahatma Gandhi,
and Franklin Delano Roosevelt who determined the social agenda. But from time to
time, when business became the engine of social change, it, too, generated its share of narcissistic leaders. That was true at the beginning
of this century, when men like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, and
Henry Ford exploited new technologies and restructured American industry. And I think it is
true again today.
But Freud recognized that there is a dark
side to narcissism. Narcissists, he pointed out,
are emotionally isolated and highly distrustful.
Perceived threats can trigger rage. Achievements can feed feelings of grandiosity. That’s
why Freud thought narcissists were the hardest personality types to analyze. Consider how
an executive at Oracle describes his narcissistic
CEO Larry Ellison: “The difference between
God and Larry is that God does not believe he
is Larry.” That observation is amusing, but it is
also troubling. Not surprisingly, most people
think of narcissists in a primarily negative way.
After all, Freud named the type after the
mythical figure Narcissus, who died because of
his pathological preoccupation with himself.
Yet narcissism can be extraordinarily useful—even necessary. Freud shifted his views
about narcissism over time and recognized
that we are all somewhat narcissistic. More recently, psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut built on
Freud’s theories and developed methods of
treating narcissists. Of course, only professional clinicians are trained to tell if narcissism
is normal or pathological. In this article, I discuss the differences between productive and
unproductive narcissism but do not explore
the extreme pathology of borderline conditions and psychosis.
Leaders such as Jack Welch and George
Soros are examples of productive narcissists.
They are gifted and creative strategists who
see the big picture and find meaning in the
risky challenge of changing the world and leaving behind a legacy. Indeed, one reason we
look to productive narcissists in times of great
transition is that they have the audacity to
push through the massive transformations
that society periodically undertakes. Productive narcissists are not only risk takers willing
to get the job done but also charmers who can
convert the masses with their rhetoric. The
danger is that narcissism can turn unproductive when, lacking self-knowledge and restraining anchors, narcissists become unrealistic
dreamers. They nurture grand schemes and
harbor the illusion that only circumstances or
enemies block their success. This tendency toward grandiosity and distrust is the Achilles’
heel of narcissists. Because of it, even brilliant
narcissists can come under suspicion for self-involvement, unpredictability, and—in extreme
It’s easy to see why narcissistic leadership
doesn’t always mean successful leadership.
Consider the case of Volvo’s Pehr Gyllenhammar. He had a dream that appealed to a broad
international audience—a plan to revolutionize the industrial workplace by replacing the
dehumanizing assembly line caricatured in
Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. His wildly
popular vision called for team-based craftsmanship. Model factories were built and publicized to international acclaim. But his success
in pushing through these dramatic changes
also sowed the seeds for his downfall. Gyllenhammar started to feel that he could ignore
the concerns of his operational managers. He
pursued chancy and expensive business deals,
page 2
Narcissistic Leaders • B EST OF HBR 2000
Productive narcissists
have the audacity to
push through the
massive transformations
that society periodically
which he publicized on television and in the
press. On one level, you can ascribe Gyllenhammar’s falling out of touch with his workforce simply to faulty strategy. But it is also
possible to attribute it to his narcissistic personality. His overestimation of himself led him
to believe that others would want him to be
the czar of a multinational enterprise. In turn,
these fantasies led him to pursue a merger
with Renault, which was tremendously unpopular with Swedish employees. Because Gyllenhammar was deaf to complaints about
Renault, Swedish managers were forced to
take their case public. In the end, shareholders
aggressively rejected Gyllenhammar’s plan,
leaving him with no option but to resign.
Given the large number of narcissists at the
helm of corporations today, the challenge facing organizations is to ensure that such leaders
do not self-destruct or lead the company to disaster. That can take some doing because it is
very hard for narcissists to work through their
issues—and virtually impossible for them to do
it alone. Narcissists need colleagues and even
therapists if they hope to break free from their
limitations. But because of their extreme independence and self-protectiveness, it is very difficult to get near them. Kohut maintained that
a therapist would have to demonstrate an extraordinarily profound empathic understanding and sympathy for the narcissist’s feelings in
order to gain his trust. On top of that, narcissists must recognize that they can benefit from
such help. For their part, employees must
learn how to recognize—and work around—
narcissistic bosses. To help them in this endeavor, let’s first take a closer look at Freud’s
theory of personality types.
Three Main Personality Types
While Freud recognized that there are an almost infinite variety of personalities, he identified three main types: erotic, obsessive, and
narcissistic. Most of us have elements of all
three. We are all, for example, somewhat narcissistic. If that were not so, we would not be
able to survive or assert our needs. The point
is, one of the dynamic tendencies usually dominates the others, making each of us react differently to success and failure.
Freud’s definitions of personality types differed over time. When talking about the erotic
personality type, however, Freud generally did
not mean a sexual personality but rather one
harvard business review • january 2004
for whom loving and above all being loved is
most important. This type of individual is dependent on those people they fear will stop
loving them. Many erotics are teachers, nurses,
and social workers. At their most productive,
they are developers of the young as well as enablers and helpers at work. As managers, they
are caring and supportive, but they avoid conflict and make people dependent on them.
They are, according to Freud, outer-directed
Obsessives, in contrast, are inner-directed.
They are self-reliant and conscientious. They
create and maintain order and make the most
effective operational managers. They look constantly for ways to help people listen better, resolve conflict, and find win-win opportunities.
They buy self-improvement books such as
Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective
People. Obsessives are also ruled by a strict conscience—they like to focus on continuous improvement at work because it fits in with their
sense of moral improvement. As entrepreneurs, obsessives start businesses that express
their values, but they lack the vision, daring,
and charisma it takes to turn a good idea into a
great one. The best obsessives set high standards and communicate very effectively. They
make sure that instructions are followed and
costs are kept within budget. The most productive are great mentors and team players. The
unproductive and the uncooperative become
narrow experts and rule-bound bureaucrats.
Narcissists, the third type, are independent
and not easily impressed. They are innovators,
driven in business to gain power and glory.
Productive narcissists are experts in their industries, but they go beyond it. They also pose
the critical questions. They want to learn everything about everything that affects the
company and its products. Unlike erotics, they
want to be admired, not loved. And unlike obsessives, they are not troubled by a punishing
superego, so they are able to aggressively pursue their goals. Of all the personality types,
narcissists run the greatest risk of isolating
themselves at the moment of success. And because of their independence and aggressiveness, they are constantly looking out for enemies, sometimes degenerating into paranoia
when they are under extreme stress. (For more
on personality types, see the sidebar “Fromm’s
Fourth Personality Type.”)
page 3
Narcissistic Leaders • B EST OF HBR 2000
Strengths of the Narcissistic Leader
When it comes to leadership, personality type
can be instructive. Erotic personalities generally make poor managers—they need too
much approval. Obsessives make better leaders—they are your operational managers: critical and cautious. But it is narcissists who
come closest to our collective image of great
leaders. There are two reasons for this: they
have compelling, even gripping, visions for
companies, and they have an ability to attract
Great Vision. I once asked a group of
managers to define a leader. “A person with
vision” was a typical response. Productive
narcissists understand the vision thing particularly well, because they are by nature
people who see the big picture. They are not
analyzers who can break up big questions
into manageable problems; they aren’t
number crunchers either (these are usually
the obsessives). Nor do they try to extrapolate to understand the future—they attempt
to create it. To paraphrase George Bernard
Shaw, some people see things, and they say
“why?”; narcissists dream things that never
were and say, “Why not?”
Consider the difference between Bob Allen,
a productive obsessive, and Mike Armstrong, a
productive narcissist. In 1997, Allen tried to expand AT&T to reestablish the end-to-end ser-
Fromm’s Fourth Personality Type
Not long after Freud described his three
personality types in 1931, psychoanalyst
Erich Fromm proposed a fourth personality type, which has become particularly prevalent in today’s service economy. Fromm called this type the
“marketing personality,” and it is exemplified by the lead character in Woody
Allen’s movie Zelig, a man so governed
by his need to be valued that he becomes exactly like the people he happens to be around.
Marketing personalities are more detached than erotics and so are less likely
to cement close ties. They are also less
driven by conscience than obsessives.
Instead, they are motivated by a radarlike anxiety that permeates everything
they do. Because they are so eager to
harvard business review • january 2004
please and to alleviate this anxiety, marketing personalities excel at selling
themselves to others.
Unproductive marketing types lack direction and the ability to commit themselves to people or projects. But when
productive, marketing types are good at
facilitating teams and keeping the focus
on adding value as defined by customers
and colleagues. Like obsessives, marketing personalities are avid consumers of
self-help books. Like narcissists, they are
not wedded to the past. But marketing
types generally make poor leaders in
times of crisis. They lack the daring
needed to innovate and are too responsive to current, rather than future, customer demands.
vice of the Bell System by reselling local service from the regional Bell operating
companies (RBOCs). Although this was a
worthwhile endeavor for shareholders and customers, it was hardly earth-shattering. By contrast, through a strategy of combining voice,
telecommunications, and Internet access by
high-speed broadband telecommunication
over cable, Mike Armstrong has “created a
new space with his name on it,” as one of his
colleagues puts it. Armstrong is betting that his
costly strategy will beat out the RBOC’s less expensive solution of digital subscriber lines over
copper wire. This example illustrates the different approaches of obsessives and narcissists.
The risk Armstrong took is one that few obsessives would feel comfortable taking. His vision
is galvanizing AT&T. Who but a narcissistic
leader could achieve such a thing? As
Napoléon—a classic narcissist—once remarked, “Revolutions are ideal times for soldiers with a lot of wit—and the courage to
As in the days of the French Revolution, the
world is now changing in astounding ways;
narcissists have opportunities they would
never have in ordinary times. In short, today’s
narcissistic leaders have the chance to change
the very rules of the game. Consider Robert B.
Shapiro, CEO of Monsanto. Shapiro described
his vision of genetically modifying crops as
“the single most successful introduction of
technology in the history of agriculture, including the plow” (New York Times, August 5,
1999). This is certainly a huge claim—there are
still many questions about the safety and public acceptance of genetically engineered fruits
and vegetables. But industries like agriculture
are desperate for radical change. If Shapiro’s
gamble is successful, the industry will be transformed in the image of Monsanto. That’s why
he can get away with painting a picture of
Monsanto as a highly profitable “life sciences”
company—despite the fact that Monsanto’s
stock has fallen 12% from 1998 to the end of
the third quarter of 1999. (During the same period, the S&P was up 41%.) Unlike Armstrong
and Shapiro, it was enough for Bob Allen to
win against his competitors in a game measured primarily by the stock market. But narcissistic leaders are after something more.
They want—and need—to leave behind a legacy.
Scores of Followers. Narcissists have vi-
page 4
Narcissistic Leaders • B EST OF HBR 2000
sion—but that’s not enough. People in mental
hospitals also have visions. The simplest definition of a leader is someone whom other people follow. Indeed, narcissists are especially
gifted in attracting followers, and more often
than not, they do so through language. Narcissists believe that words can move mountains
and that inspiring speeches can change people. Narcissistic leaders are often skillful orators, and this is one of the talents that makes
them so charismatic. Indeed, anyone who has
seen narcissists perform can attest to their personal magnetism and their ability to stir enthusiasm among audiences.
Yet this charismatic gift is more of a twoway affair than most people think. Although it
is not always obvious, narcissistic leaders are
quite dependent on their followers—they need
affirmation, and preferably adulation. Think
of Winston Churchill’s wartime broadcasts or
J.F.K.’s “Ask not what your country can do for
you” inaugural address. The adulation that follows from such speeches bolsters the self-confidence and conviction of the speakers. But if no
one responds, the narcissist usually becomes
insecure, ove …
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