Distinguished Lecturer: Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer - Recording

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Watch the Recorded Lecture

Title: Why We Don't Get the Leaders We Think We Want: The Fatal Attraction of Narcissism and Psychopathy

Presented March 26, 2021 at 12:00 pm EST

Presented by Jeffrey Pfeffer, with discussant Paula Caligiuri

There are relatively straightforward explanations for the vast discrepancies between the prescriptions for what leaders should be and the qualities many if not most leaders actually have. These include evidence that narcissists have more political skill and are more prone to engage in organizational politics; that the characteristics of both narcissists and psychopaths overlap considerably with qualities associated with leadership; that sanctions for powerful people misbehaving are not only mostly absent for numerous reasons but in many ways norm violations actually increase power; and the overwhelming human desire to associate with power and success, almost regardless of how that is achieved. The fact that research on leadership seldom asks the simple but important question about the frequency with which desired qualities actually occur in leaders has left the normative literature on leadership remarkably disconnected from reality--a condition that produces cynicism on the one hand and career derailments on the other.