Personality of the CEO - Business Management

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Personality of the CEO - Business Management Empty Personality of the CEO - Business Management

Post  studyaids on Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:23 pm

Personality of the CEO of an organization plays a key role in handling key issues. When it comes to handling ethical problems the personality factor becomes more important and different CEOs handle the problem differently depending on the type of personality they have and the kind of ethical problem they handle. In this paper it is discussed that what are the different types of personality of CEOs and how the different types of personality impact differently on solving different ethical problems. There can be many different ethical problems but the study concentrates on one ethical problem being handled by CEOs of different personality.

Types of personality
There are many theories available discussing about different types of personality and without going into much detail of the different theories and the personality types, it is considered to discuss here the most common personality type which most of the experts agree to. The types of personality can be categorized as follows: (Callahan, D. 2004)

This is one of the most difficult kinds of personality which a CEO can possess. The person possessing a hardcore personality is intimidating, hostile and abusive. Whenever they are crossed or challenged they charge like angry bulls and they believe they are always right

They are experts of their field and know much more than others on that particular field. Their power is their information about facts and this gives them a feeling of superiority. They feel themselves special and want to be on the center of the stage.

Passive aggressive
Potshots are taken by the CEOs who have passive aggressive personality and the authority of others are under cut by them in devious ways and they use sarcasm for this disguising it as a joke and they never criticize directly.

The baby
The CEOs who have the personality of this type are often negative. The have the belief that others don’t consider them important and this makes them to act as a defeated person, whine and complain.

Nancy or Negative Ned
Even baby CEOs are pale when compared to Nancy or Negative Ned because Negative Ned are not only negative but also they never trust anybody especially those who have power. He always looks at the negative side of every issue and believes his / her way as the best or the right way and often quotes “I told you so”

People pleaser
People pleaser CEOs may be liked by others because they seem to please others in a way or other but actually they have a very difficult personality and it is not easy to deal with them. They make commitments about themselves and their staffs which are often beyond their capacities. It is difficult for them to say “No.”

The CEOs who are Non player are among the most difficult personalities when it comes to deal with them. They hardly reveal their motives and let it the people guess about finding their true motives. They sometimes have hidden agendas which may counter the team work.

These are the different types of personalities which are possessed by different CEOs of various organizations and they handle different situations in different ways according to their personality. Since, here we are concerned with the ethical problems handled by different personalities or the role of the personality of the CEOs in handling an ethical problem, it would not be out of context to discuss in brief about ethical problems and the causes of it. (Callahan, D. 2004)

Ethical Problem
Within an organization many types of problems arise and out of them ethical problems are such problems which need to be handled carefully and the personality of the leader or the CEO of the organization is a decisive factor in handling such problems. An ethical problem is an outcome of an ethical action which is a byproduct of some psychological processes. (Trevino, L. K., & Nelson, K. A. 2004).Those psychological processes are;

1. Moral sensitivity (recognition)
2. Moral reasoning or judgment
3. Moral motivation
4. Moral character

Moral sensitivity helps in recognizing the existence of an ethical problem. This recognition helps in understanding the impact of behavior, deciding the suitable action plan and identifying the outcomes of such action plans. An ethical problem cannot be solved unless its existence is recognized. After the existence of an ethical problem is recognized the decision makers make a judgment about the right or wrong in the context of the existing ethical problem. For solving an ethical problem the judgments are made by the CEOs to determine what is right or what is wrong by defective reasoning and cognitive moral development. After the conclusion is made about the best action plan the decision makers must be motivated enough to follow through it. (Kohlberg, L. A. 1984.) Sometimes moral values have conflictions with issues like development of career, security of job, wealth, social acceptance, etc. Moral considerations have to take precedence over the priorities mentioned above if ethical behavior is expected. Emotions and rewards are two key factors which play very crucial role in ethical behavior. The moral character is the last, but not the least, factor of executing the action plan in solving an ethical problem. To reach the goals the moral agents need to supersede active opposition, overcome with fatigue, oppose restrictions and build strategies which must be sophisticated. (Werhane, P. H. 1999)

Role of personality in handling an ethical problem
Considering the types of personality and situations of an ethical problem it can be summed up as the role of personality in handling an ethical problem. The personality of a CEO has a great impact on its subordinates and the CEO should be able to characterize the difficult people and analyze elaborately the behavior which is dominant in them. He should also be able to visualize any possible confrontation which might take place in handling an ethical problem. His personality should be able to encourage people to change if it is required. His behavior should be supportive enough to encourage people to learn new and innovative things. He should also know about his limitations and when required he should be ready to call in a professional to handle an ethical problem if his own personality is an obstacle in the way of handling it. (Bird, F. B. 1996)

The various types of personalities discussed above have their own strengths and weaknesses and in the context of their role in handling an ethical problem it can be easily said that none of them are ideal for handling an ethical problem efficiently. For handling and ethical problem efficiently and influentially a CEO needs quite an extrovert personality which has a mixture of all the traits of all the personalities in a very suitable proportion. The CEO should be an active listener and role player. He must be creative and must not hesitate in communication. He should encourage others to speak up. He should reject ethical pessimism and encourage ethical training or courses to avoid any many possible ethical problems. The CEO must have a broader view for looking at different things. He should not only consider the position and needs of people within his group but also of the people outside the group. Rather he should consider the community as a whole for the determination of their betterment. He must know the ethical approaches like Justice for Fairness for guidance, the Categorical Imperative and Utilitarianism. He must also be aware of the dark aspects of his own personality and must take it into consideration when an ethical problem is to be solved. Any decision should be taken free of self-doubt, self-interest and ego. The CEO must know how to step outside of himself to see and observe the things in a better manner. Generally people have their own way of looking or analyzing something but there are other ways also of looking and analyzing a situation which may be an ethical problem. He must not hesitate in consulting others if any critical decision is to be made. The CEO must be able to check his own ego and should stay close to the truth. He should be ready to accept his deficiencies sportingly if somebody points towards it. He must not punish them who point fingers towards him. He should be able to assess his subordinates as well as himself. He should create an environment which is ideal for ethical rewarding. The ethical behavior should be evaluated, monitored and rewarded. He should not be miser in rewarding himself also if he handles an ethical problem efficiently because it is equally important for his self-motivation. He should also be emotionally strong and should know the positive effects of emotions like optimism, joy, happiness, etc. as well as negative impact of emotions like anger, depression, distress, etc. If needed, he must be able to regulate his emotions. He must believe that his personality has a great impact on resolving an ethical issue. (Rest, J. R., Narvaez, D., Bebeau, M. J., & Thoma, S. J. 1999)

1. Callahan, D. 2004. The cheating culture. Orlando, FL: Harcourt.
2. Werhane, P. H. 1999. Moral imagination and management decision-making.
New York: Oxford University Press.
3. Bird, F. B. 1996. The muted conscience: Moral silence and the practice of ethics
in business.Westport, CT: Quorum Books.
4. Trevino, L. K., & Nelson, K. A. 2004. Managing business ethics: Straight talk
about how to do it right (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.
5. Kohlberg, L. A. 1984. The psychology of moral development: The nature ands
validity of moral stages. Vol. 2. Pp; 485–546
6. Rest, J. R., Narvaez, D., Bebeau, M. J., & Thoma, S. J. 1999. Postconventional
moral thinking: A neo-Kohlbergian approach.

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