A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Nov 1, 2009

Don't Drink Your Own Kool-Aid

   The animal welfare/animal rights tent has many planks, factions and a cast of diverse leaders. As such a leader myself, I frequently study the styles, methods and track records of other CEO s both in and outside my industry. What I find interesting in a cause based mission driven organization, is the ability of the CEO to ascend to cult leader status thereby blurring the distinction between the accomplishments of the organization and his or her persona. The healthy leader understands this and remains grounded - the narcissist does not.
   The narcissist CEO believes the public praise  for the good works performed is for him/her and quickly becomes addicted to the adulation.  This addiction to the high becomes so acute that it subverts the mission of the organization to the full time job of feeding the leader's habit. The addicted leader believes in and can no longer distinguish between the public relations Kool-Aid and reality, but worse, he/she cannot make judicious business decisions that are neither tainted by nor designed to satisfy the addiction.  The result over time leads to the neglect and pollution of the actual corporate purpose and the deterioration of the leader's ability to make moral and ethical corporate decisions.
   Unlike the listener of Carly Simon's "Your so Vain" fame who would think this piece is about him/her - the narcissist CEO - thinks - no way this is about me! Unfortunately, the constituency in my business, abused animals, cannot voice their complaints or participate in an intervention.  They cannot remind the narcissist that the work of the organization is required to serve them. They are instead silent victims - yet again.

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