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Finweek English Edition - - MANAGEMENT -

tar per­form­ers are of­ten a st udy i n para­doxes,” s ays Man­fred Kets de Vries, a pro­fes­sor of lead­er­ship and or­gan­i­sa­tional change at the in­ter­na­tional busi­ness school Insead. “They are walking con­tra­dic­tions.”

Kets de Vries has put the ob­ser­va­tions of some 20 years of re­search and man­age­ment train­ing with CEOs into a white pa­per en­ti­tled Star Per­form­ers: Para­doxes Wrapped Up in Enig­mas. To hea r hi m t e l l i t , s t a r- per f or ming CEOs are su­per­heroes as well as para­doxes. They can think long term and ex­e­cute well short term, they take cal­cu­lated risks and take re­spon­si­bilit y for their ac­tions, com­bine op­ti­mism with re­al­ism, have great tenac­ity and high en­ergy.

“You need to be able to pos­i­tively f r ame t hings,” Kets de Vries says. “When the CEO says that things are bad, i f he or she gets de­pressed, the rest of t he team may get de­pressed, be­cause it is very con­ta­gious. So you need to be pos­i­tive – but you also need to be real­is­tic, be­cause, i f you aren’t real­is­tic, peo­ple won’t be­lieve you any­more.”

Be­ing pos­i­tive doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean be­ing an ex­tro­vert, how­ever. Kets de Vries con­tends that many star

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