Demystifying Leadership: Kings on Board

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Manfred Kets de Vries, a world famous leadership and management psychologist gives only two choices to live in the world.


His book “Leaders, Fools and Impostors” discusses leadership as narcissism and hubris to approach the main theme of the research. Actually the author talks about healthy narcissism in leadership. Healthy narcissism is truthfulness of the self and it balances the self and the superego. Healthy narcissism is a realistic self-interest and an ability to understand the relations of subjects and objects. As a great characteristic of healthy narcissi leader the author mentions the feeling of greatness – as real esteem. Kets de Vries Mentions psychological influence at the leader’s ability to explore the power. I observed this book in the context of Chess King. In the beginning of the chess game the king never looks behind his shoulder, because there is no one there. All the followers are in front of him. He does only small and short steps unlike his followers who can run and ride. He never takes the positions or responsibilities of the others. The game has it rules.


Who is next to the king? The queen with a unique liberty on all over the board. She is also a leader. If king dies, she will die, too. If she dies, king needs enormous efforts to make a new queen out the pawns. It takes time. Anyhow, the king needs changes from time to time. But he never waits for change. The king creates change.

The only person waiting for a change is a baby with a wet diaper.

Manfred Kets de Vries

According o these psychological aspects Manfred Kets de Vries starts to explain the role of the reader in the society and in the internal ego of the person who wants to be a leader.

“Leaders often lose touch with reality starting to live in a hall of mirrors. When you reach a senior position people have the tendency to tell you what you want to hear. I always say, the moment you are a senior executive you are surrounded by liars. “Manfred Kets de Vries

Chess king is a servant leader: who has foresight, awareness and listening.

Armen Sargsyan

Edited by Emily Nichols


About Armen Sargsyan

Armen Sargsyan from Armenia is a television and film producer at the Media Initiatives Center, an organization promoting the dissemination of free and independent information in Armenia. Previously, Sargsyan hosted and produced TV shows and investigations on socioeconomic issues, as well as a weekly special series about Armenian elections that aired from 1996-2014. He managed international media projects about conflicts in South Caucasus, Armenia-Turkey rapprochement, cross-border dialogue films on war, social conflicts and cohesion. Sargsyan holds a State Diploma of Linguistics and Pedagogy and an Excellency Certificate of International Broadcast Journalism. During his Humphrey year, he wants to learn more about digital journalism, data visualization, media literacy and communication technologies.

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One Comment on “Demystifying Leadership: Kings on Board”

  1. Armen,

    You had such a captivating presentation in class. I know Armenia is known for its renowned chess players, so chess seems to be in your blood. I had never thought about looking at the game of chess through the eyes of leadership but you have opened my eyes.

    Thank you for your enthusiastic and educational presentation!


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