Leadership

Male leaders behaving badly

What is it that would drive a smart guy to risk his entire life with one action that he obviously knows is wrong? In this week's leadership blog, coach John M. McKee provides some insight he's learned over the years.

What is it that would drive smart men to risk their entire lives with one action that they obviously know is wrong? In this week's leadership blog, coach John M. McKee provides some insight about their motivation.

"John! You're a guy AND you're my coach; can you tell me what's wrong with these guys?"

The client who was asking me this question last week is an executive at a large entertainment company. She was referring (of course) to Schwarzenegger and Struass-Kahn, now two former power brokers. My client is no babe in the woods; the entertainment sector is pretty blatant when it comes to sexism itself. But this one really got her and -- I'm guessing - a big majority of the population at large.

So, what could cause people who are leading successful careers to act so impulsively? Clearly these two have better than average IQs and understand the rules of good behavior.

I believe there's one over-arching reason behind most people doing things that they know are wrong. And it's usually well hidden and hard to spot until after they screw up. And that is, there's a big difference between being "successful" and being "satisfied."

Success, in many cases, has to do with achievement and/or attainment. For example, when we work hard and get the job we aspire to. Or if we study the stock market and earn a great deal of money. Success can have to do with personal relations as well, such as when we plan to get married and have children and then do that.

There are a ton of examples of success. Outwardly, that individual looks like he/she has it made. But internally, they feel a lack. Often they can't even put their finger on what it is that they are lacking. But in many cases, it drives them to do more.

Satisfaction, on the other hand, has to do with being able to enjoy what we've got. It comes from having a life that is balanced in each of the three key life aspects. Think about people you know who would say that they are satisfied with life. They don't have big gaps in what they have and what they want. They are, too some extent, content with how life is playing out for them.

The former governor and head of the IMF aren't much different than Tiger Woods. Each of them risked everything to have a little more. And they paid a steep price for their lack of satisfaction.

Here's to your future....

John

Leadership Coach

About

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

34 comments
kjmartin
kjmartin

I'd say that many times the fact that they aren't, and possibly can't be, satisfied is what makes them successful. It gives them the drive that content people just don't have. So stop obsessing on what the rich and powerful do because many times the drive that got them there prevents them from being truly happy.

Elanor123
Elanor123

It's true that success does not necessarily go with satisfaction hand-in-hand. Only that it's very easy to mistake the former for the latter.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

You know, I understand the need to digest the world in certain ways to bring out certain aspects, certain ratios, certain digests of it - to cut it short. I also think one can take those digests too far. This is all part of the Structuralist model forged by Durkheim and Saussure a century ago. They hammered it out, but their disciples never bothered to fully, truly learn the method. Yes. You can learn about something by cutting it to pieces, isolating parts, short-circuiting too-complex-to-understand-yet parts. But. Big big But : You have to put it back together once you've studied the part. You have to see how it works once you reinstate the natural processes of which it was part. In this matter, sure, contentment may play a part. As may a need for "success". But in the end it's a holistic issue, with wholegrain causes. What is a person? What makes a man? Clothes?!? Well, those too. Self-image, what we negotiate to others about ourselves, how we doubt what we tell others about ourselves, how we try to make ourselves believe what we doubt... so many tiny manipulations of reality, of perceptions, of judgments on perceptions. What a wicked weave we are, and how wickedly we weave us. If only we could forgive ourselves our wickedness, we would make less stupid mistakes. But one thing about adultery: Remember, man, one cannot be something for everybody. Pick one. Be something for that one, be the best you can. If you didn't pick foolishly, you'll get back a thousandfold what you invest, as long as you invest your all. That's called synergy, and it's our only way ahead in this world.

VirtualPro
VirtualPro

I would not lump Arnold and Tiger into the same category as a rapist. Struass-Kahn allegedly committed rape which is much different than poor judgment, ego or letting your willie do your thinking. Your wealth and position in society does not relate to being a womanizer or cheat (just means you have more to lose). Rape however is a dark and sinister crime often motivated with anger to woman and exerting ones power and physical violence against a woman. Very different.

eridonis
eridonis

"The former governor and head of the IMF aren???t much different than Tiger Woods." DSK isn't in trouble for cheating on his wife; he is accused of sexual assault and attempting rape--which is a violent crime. It is not equivalent to Tiger or Arnold's behavior. It is much different. It may be that he is innocent--that is for the courts to decide, but he doesn't belong in this discussion. You wouldn't take the names of others accused of violent crimes (men or women) and put them in this article discussing whether or not they are satisfied with life.

cd003284
cd003284

There's also the difference between intelligence, education, and "success" versus maturity and wisdom. Many highly placed people are adolescent or children in adult bodies, living in adult circumstances. So long as they produce what their superiors want, they're rewarded, and the repeated message is an affirmation of pathology. There's an Edwardian English saying that the most cherished perquisite of power is that of remaining a child, and being able to behave childishly without consequence. Not surprisingly, this often doesn't go on forever.

kpthottam
kpthottam

Shame on the press for making pronouncements of guilt even before a trial has taken place.

chalicemedia
chalicemedia

and sex isn't the only place where the power mindset plays out. It's a thousand different ways these "people" view, and treat, other human beings. A "rock-star" CEO (be it a company leader, or a political leader) truly believes that lack of conscience is a talent - not a mental aberration - that justifies any action that feels good.

Barshalom
Barshalom

Adam's transgression has been past onto all his descendants. Jesus Christ is the only one who can change our heart. We all have fallen short and done stupid things. I used to think that having a beautiful woman at my side will never make me want another...how wrong was I. People and things can't bring true happiness and satisfaction. Be happy and satisfied with who you have and what you possess because we brought nothing into this world, neither will we take any of it when we leave. Let us not exalt personalities with no moral character.

jtdavies
jtdavies

that each of them they only misbehaved once? More likely, they only got caught once (so far).

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

I have everything I need. I normally avoid choosing sides but when it comes to satisfaction Gutama Buddha spent his whole life seeking and talking about it. Have you read Siddhartha? It's about trying numerous ways of attaining satisfaction only to produce it internally in the end. Happiness comes from the inside out. External forces can push it back in so there are certainly things that people need to be happy. What you want is also very personal. I cannot tell you how to be happy. I think most people who are unsatisfied don't actually know what they want. They often find themselves in situations where they get what they want and they find that they don't want it once they have it. This was something you never needed in the first place. Having these experiences can help you in your search so I am not saying that they are without value.

seanferd
seanferd

And that power more easily allows them to attempt to satisfy their boredom? And that when better known persons finally do something so obviously wrong, it is reported more spectacularly? Wouldn't have anything to do with male privilege in general, now would it?

JamesRL
JamesRL

Unless you are suggesting these are homosexual relationships, there are two sexes involved. Sure, there are more men in positions of higher authority, so there are more examples. But who here doesn't recall incidents like women teachers (as well as men teachers) having relations with students. Who is to say that when women as a gender become better represented in the boardroom that they won't also be as corrupted as men. Power corrupts. It doesn't corrupt all, but it corrupts many.

wthilo
wthilo

Remember the old adage "absolute power corrupts absolutley." People in power, especially those who have wielded power for a while, will many times give into their inner most desires because they simply believe the rules don't apply to them and that those around them will protect them. I bet if you looked into the history of these leaders, power brokers, whetevers you will see a pattern throughout their life where they have behaved badly. You can take a person out of the gutter, but you cannot take the gutter out of the person.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

It's easy to think that getting more success is what's needed to be more content... if one doesn't have a flying fart of an idea about what one wants in life. Also, some people, a lot of people, don't know anything about what makes sex special, so they go for quantity or extremity instead - thinking that's what it's about. That seems to be especially the case for "early bloomers" (of either gender), and pr0n users. Although, what's the cause and what's the symptom can be hard to discern.

sissy sue
sissy sue

A womanizer is very different from a rapist. A womanizer seeks consent; a rapist does not. Rape is not an act of lust; it is an act of violence.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Only cheaters prosper > pron osper ly cheaters > pron layers chet osper > pron layers choser pet . .. ... prone losers pay retch

sissy sue
sissy sue

It often appears that "lack of conscience is a talent." We have too many executives who mismanage their businesses, make it up by laying off subordinates, come to the public trough with their hands out for taxpayer money, and then unashamedly accept huge (and undeserved) bonuses. When CEOs who do badly are punished and not rewarded, when people expect their leaders to be as ethical Monday through Saturday as they pretend to be on Sunday, then maybe some good can be done in this world.

dhays
dhays

One thing though, the word is passed. We all have our idiosyncrasies, just need to work to be better and to control our wants and desires, channeling them to where thay should be and for the best of all, not just for "ME", the problem comes from the me attitude.

jck
jck

and you're not getting her... :p :^0

jck
jck

they have a sense of privilege because of their position they've attained, and they think that it gives them wider latitude with what they can do/get away with. Schwarzenegger was always a womanizer though, from back in the 70s when he was a bodybuilder to his days hitting on women on movie sets and at events to cheating on his beautiful wife with a homely maid. Oh yeah...did I mention his taste sucks? The fool. Maria can call me anytime... :D

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Why must this be a gender thing? We could say "Males have the privilege of high expectations and closer scrutiny". I think it's better to focus on the fact that they got to where they are by sociopathic means so it would foolish to expect anything but selfish behaviour. Caring about others doesn't make you Mr. Universe and you would have to think that you are better than others to run for office. It's like being an @$$hole is a prerequisite to politics.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Not 100%, but the brain is the largest human sex organ... the differences between the genders are enormous.

maj37
maj37

This is what I thought and in fact wanting to say it is the only reason I came to the article. maj

jck
jck

I've been sexually harassed, and I'm a male...and it was by a female superior at a job. I've also been come-onto by a male, homosexual co-worker. Both are awkward. Both made me feel uneasy. Both were unwanted. The male co-worker I just gave a mean look to, and he backed off. The female superior I expressed no interest in her offer, and left it at that. If either would have pushed the issue, I'd have had an attorney that afternoon.

JohnMcGrew
JohnMcGrew

...combined with the "absolute power" aspect that makes it all seem to click for these people. They might be "high IQ" individuals, but the fatal combination of power and entitlement really makes people stupid.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

To base ones happiness upon another is most certainly setting yourself up for failure. Other people are dynamic and out of your control. They also die. You will be left with the "She was my whole world" sob story. Unless you are lucky enough to die first.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Maria's a babe, but she's a little too skinny for me. Give me some curves!

john.a.wills
john.a.wills

call sex "gender". Gender is a grammatical category while sex is a biological one. And those who call sex "gender" tend to have many kinds of nonsensical and other rubbishy ideas.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Do not assume that I love any less deeply than you. I have struggled in the past with caring too much about someone else. You think about them all the time. This can lead to worry and irrational thoughts. This is obession. It's not worth it. I realized that because she loves me too she doesn't want me to worry. If you really love someone then you would want them to be happy with or without you. Life is a condition, love is unconditional. I cerish my woman too but I accept her independance. I do not seek to own her. I want her to be happy even if that means leaving me. Being with me is a condition, love is unconditional.

jck
jck

if you die first, does that mean your parents will go on happy without you? Or your kids? Or your spouse? Will they be failures? I don't mind making a woman my whole world. Cause at least then, I have something to cherish. Being stuck on yourself as all you need is easy. Having someone choose to love of their own free will is what makes being in love special. Besides, I'd rather be stuck with the "she was my whole world" situation than being on my deathbed thinking i didn't love someone else enough to think of them more than myself. But...anyways...you choose your own path and have fun

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Gender is a grammatical category which means "sex", and it's also a word which means "sex". Just because you're a hoe.moe.phoebe doesn't mean you get to put limitations on other people's expression. Do it again and I'll rip you a new one!