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Leadership “Harem” style. (2016)

“Leaders who prefer harem-like management systems are often prone to narcissistic dysfunctionality… they require blind, unquestioned obedience and a great deal of admiration.”

Prof. Manfred Kets de Vries
INSEAD Knowledge Leadership & Organisations – Blog 12 May 2016.

“As a history buff, the situation (on the executive team Edward had just joined at Serail Corp) reminded him of a harem, where Ottoman sultans would keep members in a golden cage, creating a situation of not very subtle bondage.” ….

“Harem management was a type of leadership that fostered a strong undercurrent of political influence. It is synonymous with the politicisation of some organisations, where various shadow individuals or groups compete fiercely for power” …

“Reflecting on his own predicament, Edward could see how his CEO obtained some benefits from this harem-oriented way of running Serail Corporation. …”

“While the CEO paid lip service to the advantages of teamwork, he clearly preferred working with members bilaterally. (Members of the executive team) all liked to have (their own) direct reporting relationship with their boss.” …

“By keeping the roles of the people reporting to him ambiguous, the CEO was assured that the information he needed would flow up. In addition, by keeping his ‘harem’ he had reserves at hand in case one of the harem members became fed up with the situation. In the meantime, everyone in the company would be at his beck and call, vying for his attention.”

“From my experience, business leaders who prefer harem-like management systems are often prone to narcissistic dysfunctionality. They may come across as quite charming, but they know how to manipulate and exploit others for their own benefit.

“While running their ‘harem’, these narcissistic leaders require blind, unquestioned obedience from all that work for them and a great deal of admiration. Harem leaders also have a strong sense of entitlement. They can be arrogant and haughty in their attitude, treating others with contempt and arrogance. It goes without saying that they will be the dominant force in any conversation, believing that they have the answers to most problems.”

Access the full article here: Leadership “harem” style

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