CXO

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.

cd0032849
cd0032849

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.

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