Dr Scapegoat Wonders About CEO’s as Presidents

Several years ago I reviewed the demography of the people I was working with and discovered that almost half were CEO’s of private corporations. The companies they ‘ran’ were mostly large and very successful; among them were  Fortune 100 corporations. Most  had human relations divisions  which made coaching and other therapeutics available to them. However these men (and all were men) did not believe their privacy could be kept in house.

None of these individuals were seriously disturbed. On the contrary they were well adjusted and relatively comfortable with themselves; they came with a situational problem such as divorce, family loss, or questions about future moves in their career. Only their particularly high profile jobs distinguished them from many of the other people I help.

Both the last two republican candidates, Donald Trump and Mitt Romney, highlighted their CEO experience as a major strength in bidding for the presidency. Superficially that makes sense but only if one takes leadership ability as a nonspecific monolithic skill. Actually leadership, like love, is all about context, in this case the goals and intents of the groups being led. The quality of leaders and the skills required to successfully lead are very different for different collectives and although they may have some functions in common they are rarely interchangeable. Business leadership is quite specific and limited compared to leadership in other contexts.  For example, as a physician I ran several large medical and psychiatric wards which required all kinds of people and organizational skills which might be equated with a small business. But the primary “bottom line” was not money as in business but successful treatment and the intent of healing. That defined whether I was successful in my role in my own heart and the heart of patients and staff.

The personalities of the men I worked with were compatible with business enterprises.They emphasized dominance, competitiveness, competence and acquisitiveness.   They prized financial success and power as compared to humanitarian concerns, ethics, and close relationships. They had worked hard and taken personal risks to get to where they were and wanted, often craved, recognition from peers and employees. They rarely mentioned the struggles of others.
Obviously this profile is subjective and limited by numbers and the context of advising and therapy. Still it never crossed my mind that any of these successful men would make worthy presidents!

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