Tag Archives: narcissists

Leaders without any shame – 2014

 

employee_diciplined_1600_wht_56352014 update

Sepp Blatter and the corrupt organisation that is FIFA hit the news again this weekend in a Sunday Times (STexpose.

The FIFA President and his executive committee were secretly given limited edition Swiss watches worth almost £15,000 each during the World Cup despite their own rules saying that gifts should only be of “symbolic or trivial” value.

They will be ordered to give them back by Michael Garcia their ethics investigator after the ST discovered the gifts made by Swiss watch maker Parmigiani which sponsors the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF).

They’ve been told to hand them back by 25 September. Michael Platini is refusing saying he’s a “well-educated man and you don’t give back presents”.

Apparently Garcia has already blocked the gift of two watches worth up to  £42,000 which the World Cup sponsor Hublot had planned to give to Blatter and all 26 members of the ruling executive committee (exco).

So Sepp Blatter and the execs would have received gifts worth £2.5 million during the tournament in poverty-stricken Brazil.

Blatter must  be sick of the ST after they exposed the fiasco surrounding the Qatar bribery scandal. But for three of the executive committee taking a principled stand – the others accepted the gifts –  and reporting the gift to the ethics committee it probably wouldn’t have come to light.

So well done Sunil Gilati, the US exco member, Moya Dodd, the Australian member, and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.

As for Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president has previous for not seeing bribery and corruption in front of his eyes.

Updated: 14 September 2014

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And we turn again to child abuse by men of Pakistani heritage, this time in Rotherham.

An independent report found systematic failures by the Council and Police over an extended period between 2007 and 2013 during which 1,400 girls were raped, trafficked and horribly sexually abused.

The leader of the Council Roger Stone has resigned saying he takes responsibility “on behalf of the whole council for the historic failings that are described so clearly in the report

Someone who has not yet resigned is Shaun Wright currently PCC responsible for policing in South Yorkshire who was a cabinet member at Rotherham from 2006-2010 responsible for Childrens’ Services. In 2012 he was Deputy Chairman of the Police Authority and objected to the press “picking on Rotherham”.

He’s under a lot of pressure from all sides of government. Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, said Mr Wright “needs to stand up and be counted for what happened under his watch” and it’s not often I agree with Labour’s Ed Balls but he was quoted as saying;  “Mr Wright should resign…when leadership fails it’s important people take responsibility“.

By tomorrow he may have resigned as PCC but we’ll see.

He hadn’t as at 4 September but hasn’t been seen at his office for a couple of days and is due to appear before Parliament shortly.

Shaun Wright resigned today (16 September 2014) as PCC.

So far no-one at the Council has been disciplined for this disgraceful mess as the Chief Executive Martin Kimber has said that  there’s not enough evidence to prosecute anyone currently there and others have left.  Excuse me Mr Kimber but disciplinary action doesn’t need the same burden of proof as a prosecution. Maybe you should have a word with your HR Director?

Mr Kimber is also leaving the organisation in December he announced on 8 September 2014

Is it too much to hope that those managers who have moved on can still be held to account?

Latest reports say that Rotherham CEO has requested meeting with Doncaster Council where Jackie Wilson is now employed as Assistant Director for Children and Families. She was a senior manager at Rotherham with safe-guarding responsibilities during the years when abuse was going on.

Local police district commander Chief Superintendent Christine Davies also gets a mention for berating Home Office researcher for raising the issue. Where is she now?

The Mayor of Liverpool said he would demand answers from their current Chief Executive Ged Fitzgerald who was Rotherham’s Chief Executive from 2011 to 2013.

A tory MP has realised questions about whether Pam Allen who was in charge of child protection at Rotherham from 2004 to 2009 can remain as head of safeguarding at East Riding Council.

And let’s not forget Joyce Thacker OBE who became Director of Children’s and Young People’s Services in 2008 after working in Bradford and Keighley, places also associated with sexual grooming by Pakistani men and where it was also ignored.

She resigned today (19 September 2014) but still has her OBE –  awarded for her work in children’s services!

Professor Alexis Jay, who wrote the report, condemned the ‘blatant’ collective failures by the council’s leadership, concluding: ‘It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered.’

Posted August 2014
For 2013 update and earlier click here:

 

Public sector leaders still wasting our money

business_conference_1600_wht_3835The new Police and Crime Commissioners have attracted criticism for some of their actions such as travel arrangements or appointments they have made of political allies.

This week it was the turn of the PCC for Kent, Ann Barnes,  a former teacher and magistrate.

In a story in the Times she is being criticised for spending £150,000 on a new office which is only 2 miles from the old one at a time when officers are losing their jobs.

Her new office also includes a studio for radio interviews even though there is already one on the same site a few minutes walk from her office which is used by police chiefs.

She has been accused of “diva-like behaviour” and having “hissy fits” and it’s reported she is not very popular with staff. She also spent £7,500 on consultants to improve her brand.

She reminds me of Andrea Hill, former Chief Executive at Suffolk County Council who stepped down after criticism of her approach including spending tax-payers money on leadership coaching and glamour PR photographs of herself.

These narcissistic behaviours are not uncommon amongst people in leadership positions who cane be charming and persuasive (manipulative) until things start to go wrong. And as they say “pride comes before a fall”.

I’ve posted in the past about public sector “fat cats”.  It seems nothing much changes.

Leaders without any shame – 2013 update

s6000346_22013 update:

So many people I could add. First let me just add the whole of the BBC corporate set-up after the Savile affair and excessive payouts to the former DG and other unsuccessful applicants. That was unbelievable.

And the Sir David Nicholson scandal. He refuses to take responsibility for what happened on his watch at mid-Staffs and since as NHS CEO. He has faced many calls to resign and fall on his sword (well he is a knight) but astonishingly has the backing of the NHS commissioners and the Prime Minister.

Another knight Sir Hector Sants is accused of turning a blind eye when he was head of the FSA during Libor scandal. Barclays bank was one of worst offenders and now employ him on a reputed £3M salary as head of compliance.

Then we had the Senior Fraud Office. The former head, Richard Alderman, was lambasted by the Public Accounts Committee for slovenly leadership. There were unauthorised payoffs of millions of pounds of taxpayers money considered irregular by National Audit Office.

The former Chief Executive Phillippa Williamson, one of the recipients of Alderman’s generosity, wasn’t even appointed through proper channels. She was taken in on secondment by Alderman then made permanent and promoted to Chief Executive. She also lived in the Lake District and claimed £27k for travelling to London 3 times a week.

If the SFO behaves in such a haphazard manner how can they expect to be effective in carrying out their role?

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It’s been a while since I added anyone to my leadership hall of shame. Not because I didn’t care any more but there seemed to be too many mediocre leaders receiving high rewards – even when they were found out.

OK Bob Diamond had to go in the end and we had Fred the Shred de-knighted – but he kept the majority of his massive pension (around £350,000 a year plus a lump sum and bonus of several million) more than most of us have any chance of earning when we are working never mind retired.

But a recent news story reminded me how people get way with it because of incompetence by their employers.

Steve Garner was Head of Children’s Services for Rochdale Council after being promoted from being a manager three years ago. So the systematic abuse of vulnerable children was happening on his watch. He’s now been allowed to resign without any disciplinary action being taken against him.

A review by the Council’s safeguarding board into 5 years of sexual exploitation of girls by a group of predatory Asian men, mainly of Pakistani heritage, who were part of a sex-grooming network which eventually led to 9 of them being jailed, found that in 2007 fifty girls aged between 10 and 17 were identified as having links with local taxi and food takeaway businesses. (NB a further 76 were identified at the start of 2013)

Yet when these girls were referred to social service no action was taken despite concerns by police and care workers as it was thought they were making their own lifestyle choices – remember some of these girls were as young as 10!

The MP for Rotherham – another area with similar problems – said “it was outrageous that the local authority was allowing its senior managers to sneak off without being held to account for their actions”. 

He said that Mr Garner was the person within the department who influenced the culture which failed the victims. He went on to say that he thought the manager should have been suspended months ago, a point most people would find it hard to disagree with, and for that non-action you have to look at the employer, Rochdale Council.

Mr Garner was probably continuing in his predecessor’s footsteps as he was following a series of internal appointments – not always a good thing if change needs to be made.

We could probably add former CEO Roger Ellis to this list as well as he told the parliamentary inquiry (which Steve Garner has declined to attend) that he knew nothing about the child abuse although he was in post for 10 years and it happened on his watch! Like Sharon Shoesmith he says he feels no personal responsibility for any of it. He’s a lawyer so presumably knows his rights if no-one else’s.

The Council’s new Chief Executive Jim Taylor (formerly Director of Children’s Services at Tameside and a maths teacher before that) said that Mr Garner’s resignation was not directly connected to the report and that he would be willing to take disciplinary action against any staff who were identified as culpable after an internal review has been concluded. He said that Mr Garner would not receive any redundancy pay.

Well why would he as they are replacing him, following the thematic review of multi-agency responses to the sexual exploitation of children, to “allow someone else to take forward recommendations”.

Allowing people potentially facing disciplinary action is a common practice in the Public Sector including the Police service eg only this week Sir Norman Bettison has decided to retire in the wake of the report from the  Hillsborough Independent Panel as it enables people who might have been disciplined to retire on their pensions.

It seems that no-one is being held accountable for the whole sorry saga which has been going on for a lot, lot longer than this report suggests and before Mr Garner’s time in post. Nevertheless the Rotherham MP is correct; leaders are highly influential in setting the culture of an organisation and in this case it was clearly a failure of leadership as well as a lack of moral certainty usurped by political correctness on race issues.

In some respects this is similar to the Sharon Shoesmith case (see below).

With Sharon Shoesmith’s distasteful victory in the Courts we saw yet another example of leaders who refuse to take responsibility for their actions – or in this case inactions.

Her reported comments that I don’t do blame” and “this is a victory” has a hollow ring when you think about Baby P. Shoesmith was appointed to make sure that the Climbie case in 2000 was not repeated. She clearly failed to do this and the Courts upheld Ofsted’s findings which described the department as the worst they had ever seen.

At least the leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for the children’s’ services resigned, but not Shoesmith. And she got her compensation for unfair dismissal thanks to Ed Balls heavy-handed interference (but what was HR doing?). So big compensation for being rubbish at her job.

The last person I  added to my list was Barclay’s Bob Diamond who told the House of Commons Treasury Committee parliamentary committee earlier this year that “There was a period of remorse and apology for banks, that period needs to be over” and “the biggest issue is how do we put some of the blame game behind us?”.

He also said that they were sensitive and were listening. I don’t remember any bankers listening and refusing bonuses or showing any remorse at all!

We expect a lot of leaders and expect them to be good role models but that’s not what we get a lot of the time. Leaders with narcissistic or sociopathic tendencies often show their dark side when under pressure.

The fact that “Fred the Shred” felt it necessary to take out a superinjunction to protect the public learning about his alleged affair with a senior member of staff at a time that the bank was going under at least shows some self-awareness, albeit in his own interest, that his behaviour might be seen as counter-productive. But on the whole people like Diamond and Shoesmith don’t seem to possess a lot of emotional intelligence.

4 June 2011: It would be so easy to add Sepp Blatter to the list after his Napoleonic “coronation” but this week’s nomination has to be Bernie Ecclestone after his decision to go to Bahrain with his Formula 1 circus. He obviously needs the $40m but even the sponsors are nervous about the effect on their reputations.

Britain has close relations with Bahrain but given the suppression of protests there and the possibility of a terrorist attack it’s a dubious decision. Ecclestone might have a nose for a commercial deal but scores zero for ethical leadership.

12 July 2011: I’ve been trying to decide who is worse, Rebecca Brooks or any member of the Murdoch family. But the “red top” who oversaw the demise of the News of the World, which she described as a toxic brand and thereby besmirched the reputations of the 200 staff, has to be on a par with Sharon Shoesmith for not accepting any responsibility for what happened.

Leaders who won’t fall on their sword, who believe they are right, who blame everyone else (Brooks was editor at the time of the hacking) don’t deserve to be leaders. Why did Murdoch back her? She said she was a lightning rod for criticism.

Perhaps it keeps the heat off son James Murdoch. Rebecca should remember that no matter how much a favoured “daughter” she thinks she is, blood is thicker than water (and true to form Murdoch is now back at BSkyB).

Rebecca Brooks eventually lost her job, albeit with a reported £1.7M payoff and use of an office and chauffeur-driven car for two years. Perhaps they’re waiting for the Sun on Sunday to be published.

And whilst we are on this topic let’s add Assistant Commissioner John Yates to the list for complete lack of leadership. OK he has apologised, admitted that the Metropolitan Police’s reputation is “very damaged“, appears not to have carried out his responsibilities properly when he mishandled the review of the 2007 inquiry (apparently he decided in a matter of hours even though there were 11,000 pages of notes involved), but he’s not resigned either.

James is still trying not to show how incompetent, or devious, he is but it looks like the Murdoch dynasty has upset too many shareholders to continue for another generation.

I previously let Sepp Blatter off the hook because of Bernie Ecclestone’s Bahrain fiasco but after this week and his belated apology and refusal to resign – and why would he quit the corrupt gravy train that is FIFA – he’s got to be latest nomination for a leader completely without principles and any awareness of what the public think about him and his ideas.

He’s not the only one in football to defend the indefensible this month eg spitting at people is culturally acceptable in South American countries – really? So Sepp Blatter joins my leadership hall of shame.

The Problem With Narcissistic Leaders

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

 

Post image for The Problem With Narcissistic Leaders

Narcissistic leaders reduce information sharing in groups, leading to poor task performance.

Narcissistic leaders are everywhere. Just think of Steve Jobs, Nicolas Sarkozy or Bill Clinton.

Normally we don’t share narcissists’ self-inflated opinions of themselves, but for leadership it’s different. Narcissists know how to radiate all the qualities of a good leader: they have high self-esteem, they are confident and they display authority. Research has shown they seem to automatically take over leaderless groups (Brunell et al., 2008).

But how does a narcissistic leader affect group performance? That’s the question Nevicka et al. (2011) ask in a new study published inPsychological Science.

One job of a leader is to help the members of a group communicate with each other. If information is flowing between group members, then better decisions can be made. So, what do narcissists do to information flow amongst group members?

What Nevicka…

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Size Matters (2)

blank_document_signature_pen_1600_wht_6425Companies led by CEOs who have large signatures – an indicator of narcissism – perform worse than ones led by CEOs with small signatures. 

Researchers at the Robert H Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland measured the signatures of 650 CEOs on 10 years’ worth of annual reports from almost 400 top 500 companies.

Large signatures, which have been linked to narcissistic personality traits such as dominance and an outsize ego, were positively associated with overspending, lower return on assets, but higher CEO pay relative to other industry peers.

The companies of these CEOs spend more on capital goods and acquisitions but had worse sales and sales growth over several years. They also had fewer patents suggesting a lack of innovation.

This is probably because narcissistic leaders dominate discussions, ignore criticism and belittle other employees.

The assumption about big signatures and narcissism is based on research by Richard Zweigenhaft which showed that people with higher self-esteem and more dominant personalities had large signatures.

It’s also the case that the CEO population is more narcissistic than the general population as well as having other dark triad characteristics.

Source: HBR May 2013

Leadership – the dark side 

Businessman Psychopaths, Narcissists and now Machiavellian types, somewhere in an office near you, or maybe even running your business,according to Holly Andrews and Jan Francis-Smythe, writing in the Professional Manager.

In an earlier post on sociopaths and narcissists; “Leadership – do you have what it takes? I drew attention to some US research on Narcissistic types by Shnure about their impact in organisations. Now Andrews and Francis-Smythe, at the University of Worcester, see these personality types as even more of a potential threat in the current economic climate.

Describing these extreme personality types which make up the “dark side triad“: narcissists have an exaggerated sense of self-importance – “It’s all about me“; psychopaths are also ego-centric and lack empathy; Machiavellian types also  manipulate others for their own purpose, shows there is some overlap but all essentially exploit others in some way.

Narcissists can be charming and even psychopaths have superficial charm which gets them into positions of power. So the authors set out some suggestions to help organisations cope with these extreme personality types starting at the recruitment stage. They also point out that they are not making clinical diagnoses even though they are using some terms found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Psychiatric Disorders.

410WJzBZ-tL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_The article includes a list of references but if you are interested in this topic I recommend Why CEOs fail: the 11 behaviours that can derail your climb to the top and how to manage them” by Dotlich, Cairo et al. This is based on research and the work of Robert Hogan who developed a psychometric questionnaire to measure these “dark side” factors and should be essential reading for all HR managers and would-be company directors.

Adrian Furnham’s closing keynote address at the 2010 ABP conference focused on CEO derailment. Apart from toxic personalities he suggested that there also need to be a group of people happy to follow them and a supportive culture. An idea echoed by Ali Kennedy in the weekend newspapers who said that politicians were essentially “sociopaths with good intentions” working in a “psychologically corrosive atmosphere“.

From a coach’s perspective these can be difficult clients to say the least. Lacking in key areas of emotional intelligence they can be charming but don’t like to be challenged.

Helping them to be more self-aware and understand others is a start but their goal is likely to be even better at what they do (exploiting others) which poses an ethical dilemma. (It is a bit like providing social skills training to psychopaths: counter-productive if it means they just get better at fooling people).

So how successful are psychopaths at work? Researchers in America trying to find psychopaths who were successful in life asked their colleagues in the American Psychological Association who specialised in Psychology and Law if they recognised any amongst their clients or acquaintances.

51OAaYUszbL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU02_-1Hare’s definition of psychopaths is;”‘social predators who charm, manipulate and ruthlessly plow their way through life … completely lacking in conscience and feeling for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret.’ (His assessment checklist is commonly used to determine if someone is a psychopath and is described in Jon Ronson’s book “The Psychopath Test”.

They received replies from over a hundred people and asked them to describe these “psychopaths” and complete a diagnostic tool for that person (creating a remote profile). They concluded that there was evidence to suggest there were such people as “successful psychopaths” (not sure if unsuccessful psychopaths were just those in prison or who hadn’t been caught yet).

The key difference between successful and standard psychopaths seemed to be in conscientiousness as the individuals described by the survey respondents were the same as prototypical psychopaths in all regards except they lacked the irresponsibility, impulsivity and negligence and instead scored highly on competence, order, achievement striving and self-discipline.

For more information go to Hunting Successful Psychopaths.

Post first published in 2010

It doesn’t pay to be too nice 

P1000657 - Version 2Professor Adrian Furnham’s column in The Sunday Times is always of interest to psychologically minded executives and his book; “The Elephant in the Boardroom – the causes of leadership derailment”, should be essential reading for all would-be directors.

As a psychologist I liked the piece in which he explained why nice guys don’t always win – because of their Agreeable personality.

Agreeableness is one of the Big 5 Personality Factors (along with Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Neuroticism).

He points out that Agreeableness can be a handicap in business as the higher you score on this factor, the less likely you are to succeed as a business leader!

Most of us would prefer to work for an agreeable rather than a disagreeable boss, wouldn’t we? Well perhaps not says Furnham. Agreeable bosses may make you dissatisfied by not dealing with poor performers and being too forgiving, maybe treating you all the same, or being manipulated by your more devious colleagues.

One of my earlier posts Sometimes you just have to tell em” was about research at Roffey Park that showed that we are not very good at dealing with underperformance or telling people what we want, that strong managers get more respect, and that a firm consistent approach is better for morale and performance generally.

And it gets worse – if you’re a female. The Times reported last year on some research carried out by the Institute of Employment Research and concluded that;  “It doesn’t pay for a female boss to be too nice. The research showed that personality factors do come into account and that, for example, nice people earn less.

Too niceApparently nice women are being swept away by openly aggressive ones who know what they want.

A more recent paper presented to the Academy of Management by Beth A Livingston from Cornell University analysed surveys spread over 20 years. She found that  significantly less agreeable men earned 18.3% more than men who were significantly more agreeable. For women the difference was less, just 5.5%.

Livingston said; “Men’s disagreeable behaviour conforms to expectations of masculine behaviour“.

Apparently nice women are being swept away by openly aggressive ones who know what they want.

Working hard obviously helps but if you are too conscientious you may be seen as neurotic (or get bullied), and extraverts do no better than introverts.

Professor Cary Cooper, at the University of Lancaster Management School, agrees but also thinks women have more emotional intelligence than men and are not generally as egocentric.

So agreeable managers have to learn how to toughen up – for the sake of their team and the organisation, just as the disagreeable ones have to learn how to be nice – if only for the PR.

The July 2010 issue of Psychologies magazine has picked up on this topic in their article; “Why it pays to be tough at work“. It suggests that the prevailing view that it’s not the cleverest (presumably meaning IQ) but those with the highest emotional intelligence that succeed is wrong.

That was always a simplistic view at best and one that Adrian Furnham disagrees with as he says there is evidence that disagreeable poeple do better. The German research quoted says agreeable women earned £40,000 less over a lifetime than women who behaved more like ruthless men.

The article’s author then has a go at empathy. She quotes Jack Welch’s wife as saying that; “too much empathy is paralysing” when you have to give tough feedback or make tough decisions, and goes on to talk about women being prone to slipping into “good mother” roles where they create “gardens of entitlement” sowing seeds of future problems (such as?).

After dismissing empathy – by quoting Neutron Jack’s wife for goodness sake – the author next attacks self-knowledge which she doesn’t consider essential for top jobs as it can detract from self-confidence if it makes you aware of your failings (is she serious that these people don’t need feedback ?

Some people have short memories; what about Enron, the banks or BP?. Furnham is quoted as saying that people who get on may be narcissistic – which is not the only dark-side attribute.

If men overestimate their abilities and don’t navel gaze while women underestimate themselves and have self-doubt (imposter syndrome) then women seemed doomed to fail according to the author and people like Suzy Welch.

In fact the author seems to welcome emotional stupidity as it makes less demands on her. She even has a dig at Anne Mulcahy, ex-CEO of Xerox, because, although she has written about what women can bring to the workplace in terms of emotionality which makes them better leaders, she cut 1/3 of the workforce.

Did she not wonder how Neutron Jack got his nickname?

Original published on 12 April 2010