Dr. Stanley Goldstein - Author and Psychologist

A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

When Leaders with a Healthy Obsessive Personality Become Destructive

February 22, 2018

Tags: management, leadership

Though people with severe obsessive-compulsive traits, having a diagnosable disorder, can hinder an organization's operation, these basic characteristics of orderliness, precision, and properly delegating authority, are beneficial in a milder form. Some very successful managers have obsessive-compulsive natures.

Danger arises when the leader has an excessive need for order and control since these demands reinforce the tendency to follow bureaucratic rules which reduces staff creativity and autonomy and hinders the organization's adaptability at times of rapid change and stress. While following rules reduce political infighting, it also increases passive resistance and the misuse of resources.

Character traits become intensified during times of stress. The increased pedantry of the obsessive-compulsive manger creates added problems at a time when rapid decision making is needed. These managers often insist on their authority, try to force opponents into submission and thus fostering submissiveness.