Addictive Personality and Leadership

The Stereotype of an Addict

The common stereotype of an addict is an individual who is self-destructing. Their life is falling apart, and they may resort to criminal acts to continue their substance abuse. While this view of the addict does find support in reality, it does not apply to everyone who is dependent on these substances. There are also those who are high functioning and able to live a life that most would consider successful. Some are leaders in their profession, and it may be their addictive personality that makes them so good at what they do. There are a number of characteristics that successful leaders share with the addictive personality.

Addictive Personality Characteristics

Those individuals who have been identified as having an addictive personality tend to exhibit the following characteristics:

* A tendency to be impulsive
* Risk-taking behaviors
* A dislike for delaying gratification
* Such people sense that they have a high degree of stress in their life
* Problems with self-esteem
* Tolerance for deviant behavior
* Relationship insecurity
* Episodes of anxiety or [depression]
* Value nonconformity
* A need for stimulation and excitement
* Antisocial behavior
* Alienation from other people
* Attention seeking behavior

High Functioning Addict

A high functioning addict is able to hide the excesses of their behavior. They manage to do this by building an outward image of respectability and achievement. They work hard to find success in their careers, and they may have a beautiful home and a family that worships them. They may view substance abuse as a well deserved reward or something that goes hand in hand with their profession. If friends and family become worried about excessive use of alcohol or drugs it can be justified as letting off steam.

Those who break away from an addiction will often do so because they have hit a personal rock bottom. Life becomes so tough that the individual is forced to accept the reality of their situation. The high functioning addict can be protected from this type of crisis because of their success and external comforts. This means that they may be less likely to seek help for their problem.

Addictive Personality and Leadership

The personality of successful leaders will often share at least some of the characteristics of the addictive personality. They enjoy taking risks and will seek out opportunities in life that will challenge them. It may be their nonconformist attitude that allows them to think outside the box and arrive at new innovations. Leaders are usually highly motivated to do what they do; just like an alcoholic is highly motivated to keep abusing alcohol. They are also unlikely to feel completely satisfied no matter how much success they experience. They will always be focused on making things even better. When the shared characteristics are considered it becomes less surprising to find that many leaders are also substance abusers.

Addiction to Reward

The driving force behind addiction is the internal desire to trigger pleasure circuitry. This can be done by altering the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. It may be that addicts suffer from depressed dopamine reception and so they have to work harder to trigger the pleasure circuitry. This manipulation of dopamine occurs with most types of chemical addiction. Another way to trigger the pleasure circuitry in the brain is to experience unexpected rewards. This can be achieved by getting involved high risk activities where there is a bit of a gamble. This suggests that leaders who enjoy taking high risks may be doing so for similar reasons as the cocaine addict.

The Dangers of Leaders with an Addictive Personality

Those who are driven to take risks and never feel satisfied can achieve plenty of success in business. They may also become a liability if their yearning for excitement motivates them to take unacceptable risks. They may be gambling with the future of a business and all of its employees; eventually their luck can run out. It can also be hard to live with an individual who is so obsessed with their work. They may expect the same type of commitment from employees, and this can lead to a high degree of stress in the workplace. Such people may also fail to put enough effort into their home life.

High functioning addicts may find great success in the workplace but their excesses will usually catch up with them. Alcohol and drug abuse has a devastating impact on the body and mind, and is associated with a number of diseases. The high functioning addict will have no financial worries to limit their addiction so they can do much more damage. The fact that they are less likely to seek help means that they suffer longer.

(Visited 383 times, 1 visits today)