In Dr. Husted’s 2008, dissertation Systematic Differentiation Between Dark and Light Leaders: Is a Corporate Criminal Profile Possible?, findings suggested there is a phenomenon called “Emotional Ignorance”.
Recent scandals involving some of America’s most powerful corporations remind us of the significant impact poor leadership has on stakeholders and stockholders, corporate America, and the global economy. Shipper and Dillard (1999, as cited in Barbuto & Burbach, 2006, p. 55) attributed leaders’ derailment to lack of self-awareness. Followers rated leaders who were high in self-awareness as more effective than those who lacked self-awareness. (Sosik & Megerian, 1999, as cited in Barbuto & Burbach, 2006, p. 55)
According to Gini (2004), what causes leaders to engage in corporate misconduct are narcissistic illusions of invisibility and infallibility. According to Conger and Kanungo (1988), “The success of a leader’s strategic vision depends on a realistic self-assessment of both the opportunities and the constraints in the organization’s environment and sensitivity to constituents’ needs” (p. 45).
Bass (1999) believed authentic transformational leaders increase awareness of ethics and morality and help elevate followers’ needs for achievement and self-actualization. Like Burns (1978), Bass believed authentic transformational leaders foster followers’ moral maturity. Authentic transformational leaders refrain from satisfying their own self-interests and focus on the good of the group. Bass saw pseudo-transformational leaders transforming and motivating their followers. However, the leader’s purpose was not utilitarian. It was for the leader’s self-aggrandizement at the follower’s expense.
Jim Collins’ (2001) identified Great Leaders (which he referred to as Level 5 Leaders) mirrors Bass’ (1999) description of the authentic transformational leader. Collins found Level 5 Leaders to have humility and professional will; ambition for the good of the company; they displayed modesty and were self-effacing; produced sustained results no matter how difficult; attributed success to others not to boost self; when things went poorly these individuals were found to be able to look at themselves and take blame (p. 38). According to Collins, to find Level 5 Leaders one needs to look for situations of extraordinary accomplishments but no existence of individuals taking excessive credit for these accomplishments. He admits it was not his intent to find the existence of Level 5 Leaders in his research of Good to Great companies. “We were not looking for Level 5 Leaders in our research or anything like it, but the data was overwhelming and convincing [sic], it is an empirical, not an ideological finding” (p. 40).
Pseudo-Transformational Leadership as a Syndrome
There is evidence to suggest a correlation between pseudo-transformational leadership, self-regulation and psychopathy. Self-regulation was seen by Barbuto and Burbach (2006) as providing the leader a level of immunity against Dark Leadership. Emotional self-regulation allows the leader to refrain from giving into Dark temptations, acting hastily, and provides them the ability to think objectively and consider the needs of others (p. 53). Newman, Kossman and Patterson (1992) found a correlation between self-control, delay of gratification, and psychopathic behavior. Newman, MacCoon, Vaughn and Sadeh (2005) found psychopaths exhibit deficits in socialization. Losel and Schmucker (2004) found psychopathic individuals have deficits in automatic monitoring.
Bass (1999) believed pseudo-transformational leaders have the persona of being honest and supportive of their organization and follower’s mission, goals and objectives, but their true intentions are contradictory. Conger and Kanungo (1988) also found a Dark side to leadership which included: charisma, narcissism, authoritarianism, flawed vision, thirst for power, inhibition, disregard for others, and lack of internalization of values and beliefs. Conger and Kanungo found these leaders to be self-serving, deceptive and exploitive of their followers.
Bass’ (1999) pseudo-transformational leader is consistent with Poythres’ et al. (2006) definition of the psychopath. Poythres et al. found psychopaths are often superficially charismatic and are thought of as charming, but their intentions are insincere. Poythres et al. believed psychopaths lacked depth of emotion, were narcissistic and manipulative, lacked remorse and guilt and were callous towards others (p. 288). Poythres’ et al. identified psychopathic characteristics are found in Conger and Kanungo (1988) and Bass’ (1999) description of pseudo-transformational leaders. According to Poythres et al. (2006), “Psychopathic behavior is a syndrome characterized by affective and interpersonal functioning deficits” (p. 288).
One of the most provocative ideas about business in this decade so far surfaced in a most unlikely place. It was a convention of Canadian cops in the far-flung province of Newfoundland. The speaker, a 71-year-old professor emeritus from the University of British Columbia, remains virtually unknown in the business realm. But he’s renowned in his own field: criminal psychology. Psychopaths have a profound lack of empathy. They use other people callously and remorselessly for their own needs. According to the Canadian Press and Toronto Sun reporters who rescued the moment from obscurity, Hare began talking about Mafia hit men and sex offenders, whose photos were projected on a large screen behind him. But then those images were replaced by pictures of top executives from WorldCom, which had just declared bankruptcy, and Enron, which imploded only months earlier. Then Hare came out with a startling proposal. He said that the recent corporate scandals could have been prevented if CEO’s were screened for psychopathic behavior. (Deutschman, 2005 ¶¶ 1, 3, 6)
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Poythres, N., Lilenfield, S., & Skeem, J. (2006). Associations among early abuse, dissociation,
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Christie Husted PhD