The Productive Narcissist by Michael Maccoby
The Promise and Peril of Visionary Leadership

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Synopsis

A provocative examination of the essential – and widely misunderstood--personality type of today's most innovative leaders.

What is it that Oprah Winfrey, Jack Welch, Martha Stewart, and Bill Gates all have in common? According to psychoanalyst, anthropologist, and consultant Michael Maccoby, it’s not just enormous success and celebrity – it’s narcissism. In The Productive Narcissist, Maccoby proposes a new paradigm of modern leadership and zeros in on one common character trait: the narcissistic personality. Challenging prevailing leadership theories, Maccoby argues that today’s most innovative leaders are not consensus-building bureaucrats; they are “productive narcissists” with the interrelated set of skills -- foresight, systems thinking, visioning, motivating, and partnering – that he terms “strategic intelligence.” Rejecting the negative stereotype of the individual who is destroyed by a pathological preoccupation with himself, Maccoby redefines the productive narcissist as the personality type who is best suited to lead during times of rapid social and economic change. At the same time, he makes clear that narcissistic leadership doesn’t always mean successful leadership and that narcissists lacking strategic intelligence are fated to crash and burn.

Beginning with an examination of the crucial role personality plays in the workplace and an analysis of the primary personality types (a questionnaire allowing readers to evaluate their own personalities is included), Maccoby makes an eye-opening case for how narcissism has been misunderstood and how throughout history narcissists have always emerged to inspire people and to shape the future. While narcissism can be extraordinarily useful—even necessary—for effective leadership, Maccoby shows how it also has a distinct downside when narcissists become unrealistic dreamers and harbor the illusion that only circumstances or enemies block their success. Strategic intelligence is the hallmark of the productive narcissist, and by elucidating its key qualities – and how they can be developed – Maccoby illuminates both what it takes for narcissists to truly succeed and how to work with them most effectively .

Based on over thirty years of first-hand experience consulting with business leaders around the world, The Productive Narcissist redefines the way we understand and relate to today’s leaders.
 

About Michael Maccoby

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MICHAEL MACCOBY, PH.D., is president of the Maccoby Group and director of the Project on Technology, Work, and Character, a nonprofit research center. A psychoanalyst, anthropologist, and consultant, Dr. Maccoby has advised leaders at numerous corporations, from AT&T to Volvo, as well as at institutions such as the World Bank. From 1970 to 1990, he led a research program on leadership and work at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He is the author of the bestseller The Gamesman and author or coauthor of seven other books, most recently Why Work? Motivating the New Workforce. He lives in Washington, D.C.
 
Published April 8, 2003 by Broadway. 320 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction

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And to counter the understandable reaction against hiring narcissists as corporate leaders—most corporations would rather avoid the type, Maccoby says—there's the cautionary tale of a 1971 Human Resources report on an executive applying to become CEO of a major company in which the man's renegade...

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