Entrepreneur. Educator. Influencer.

Thursday 28 May 2020

Make love, not war!

‘What will the world look like after the pandemic?’
‘The same, but worse!’
This answer of the amazing emeritus professor Manfred Kets de Vries is probably a good introduction to the way he’s capable to say so much by saying so less. 
Today I had the great privilege to see him live in a webinar proposed by Insead. He touched a lot of subjects close to my heart, I wish the webinar could have lasted longer!
He talked about narcissistic leaders and how some can be paranoid and psychopaths, a quite high percentage of them working in the finance industry. He pointed out how a bit of narcissism is good for any leader because it gives him confidence and how women, who are generally less narcissistic than men, are also more vulnerable. 

I’ve learned a lot today and let me give you a quick challenge. Would you guess which is the closest animal to Homo sapiens?
a) dolphin 
b) gorilla
c) chimpanzee 
Did you find the correct answer among the three above?
If you’ve chosen c, you’re close to the correct answer. Because it’s actually the bonobo or Pygmy chimpanzee with whom we, humans, share 98% of our DNA. It’s super interesting that the closest animal to homo sapiens is characterized by a matriarchal society which could have as motto: ‘make love, not war’. Why is that, you might ask? Well, because sex rather than agression is used to regulate their society. Which means that the bonobos use sex to bond, to show affection, respect or submission, to make up, to barter for food or occasionally even for procreation. In addition, bonobos have constantly both heterosexual and homosexual sex and don’t form human style nuclear families.

Another question prof. Kets de Vries touched today was the impact of the pandemic on the society and on the individual. At the macro level, one could always notice that in crisis there is a societal regression. This means that people might have a feeling of helplessness and dependency or paranoid reactions, they start to look for messiahs, there is a rise of conspiracy theories and of autocratic or despotic leadership. At the individual level, the social distancing is unnatural and creates a lot of mental health issues, like frustrations related to the need of belonging or paranoid reactions such as lack of trust and violence. 

In time of crisis, even the dysfunctional leaders might have a boost. In this context, prof. Kets de Vries (who’s not only a psychoanalyst, but also an economist) mentioned the clinical paradigm which is useful for leaders with its different dimensions: complexity, care (passion), courage, critical thinking, communication and compassion. And how the lack of all these elements in a dysfunctional leader costs hundreds of thousands of lives. 

This hour spent with Manfred Kets de Vries motivates me to resume reading his book "The Leaders on teh Couch", which I started a few years ago, and also to get some of his other books, such as "The Leadership Mystique" (the title of today's webinar), "The Happiness Equation" and "Sex, Money, Happiness and Death". 

I’m very grateful for the inspiration provided today by the speaker and the excellent moderator, as well as the privilege offered to me by my university.



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