Sunday, September 11, 2011

Insane or Enlightened Leader?

A friend of mine alerted me of this book, A First-Rate Madness by Nassir Ghaemi.

In it, the author makes a case for insanity as a positive indicator for effective leadership and sound mental health as an indicator for effective status-quo management.

I take this to mean that in order to keep things running, we need the sane to keep the lights on and the insane to make things better.

Loosely translated, the Managers who see as their mission to keep things the same are best suited for a status quo situation. They tend to resist change and see it as a direct attack on their whole being. They experience deviations from protocol and procedure as failure. These types are the most prevalent in top management today because they gives us comfort that they can be controlled, or at least won't do something unexpected. As such they are the main impediment to progress.

The Leaders who see as their mission to change things are best suited for an undesirable situation (like several around us now). Their appetite for risk is much greater than the ordinary person. Rather, they experience a low-risk situation as uncomfortable and even frightening. These people are often attributed with mental illnesses ranging from ADHD to paranoid schizophrenia. These individuals scare common folk with their outlandish ideas and frighten managers with their roguish behavior. What makes things worse is that these kinds of characters have a tendency to achieve actual results, which creates a power struggle between the Managers and the Leaders.

In order to achieve true results, Managers and Leaders must collaborate and learn to appreciate each other's points of view, giving each other the space to apply their talents while managing each other's perceived neuroses.

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