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Conclusion

Compulsive personality traits (see Table 16-1) can seriously undermine the work that a manager is trying to do. Their rigidity concerning how to accomplish work tasks impedes innovation, and their insistence on having their way and lack of attention to their subordinates’ needs for support damages relationships with people. Compulsive managers’ difficulty in seeing the big picture, along with their rigidity, makes them particularly unsuited to hold the top position in an organization.

Differentiating compulsive managers from other types of rigid managers is important in designing the best way for dealing with the problem and in assessing the long term impact of the problem. Compulsive managers are more globally impaired in their ability to relate to people than are authoritarian and dictatorial managers. They are very limited in their ability to respond to people’s feelings and needs. They most resemble narcissistic managers. Significant differences exist, however. The rigidity of compulsive managers arises from their intense fear that they will make a mistake, while the rigidity of control freaks comes from feeling that they are better than others. Narcissistic managers are risk-takers rather than highly cautious like compulsive managers. They can also enjoy themselves and be spontaneous. The self-dislike of compulsive managers is very close to the surface and usually sticks out into the fresh air where all can see. In contrast, the fragility of the narcissistic manager’s self-esteem is well hidden in subterranean caverns. It is primarily evidenced by periodic earthquakes of anger when the narcissist’s self-esteem is challenged.


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