The unprecedented challenges of today—a world-wide pandemic, climate disruption on a global scale, and an economic instability that knows no boundaries—require a leadership grounded in a profound and unflinching awareness of our interconnectedness and the existential stakes before us.
The Path to Authentic Leadership frames the dilemmas of leadership within the insights provided by the Ouroboros, the mythic snake willing to destroy parts of itself so that it can be renewed. Like the Ouroboros, today’s leaders must be prepared to enter into a dynamic, uncertain, and ever-changing environment with the capacity to reflect, adapt, let go of what is no longer working, and create solutions that are not only renewing, but sustainable.
Drawing from his decades of training in psychoanalysis and the systems-psychodynamic method, Kets de Vries discusses the effects of the pandemic in the context of the seven deadly sins, the impact of shame, evil, the lure of charisma and even the perils of procrastination. Also, he explores the inner theatre of white-collar criminals and the super-rich. He comments on the role of magic in management and the paradoxical role of koans, serving as catalysts for change.
From there, he goes on to outline a path toward organizational transformation, turning again to the self-renewing process presented by the Ouroboros. This dynamic is applied to his 7C sequence for organizational transformation—Context, Confrontation, Clarification, Crystallization, Cascading, Consolidation, and Continuity. Its enactment is brought to life through the story of a troubled CEO and the careful, step-by-step advice offered by an experienced executive consultant.
Throughout, Kets de Vries reminds us that the path to authentic leadership will be meaningless unless it is guided by a deeply held commitment to serve as a force for good.