Nearly every corporation has some element of neuroticism, say organizational behaviorists Manfred Kets de Vries and Danny Miller. Where you've got to watch out is when one of the following styles clearly predominates:
Dramatic. Entrepreneurial companies often fall into this category. Unbridled growth is the goal, reflecting the top manager's desire to be at center stage. Characteristics include: Audacity, risk-taking, overcentralization, excessive expression of emotions, incapacity to concentrate or focus attention sharply, the risk of operating in a real world with action based on hunches, and overreaction to minor events.
Depressive. This tends to be a well-established firm serving a mature market -- primarily steel, agricultural and industrial chemical firms. There is an atmosphere of passivity and purposelessness; suggestions for change are resisted. Characteristics: inactivity, lack of confidence, extreme conservatism and insularity, difficulties in concentration and performance.
Paranoid. In this type, there's a distortion of reality due to a preoccupation with confirming suspicions. Characteristics include a suspiciousness and mistrust of others, hypersensitivity and hyperalertness, readiness to counter perceived threats, overconcern with hidden motives and special meanings.
Schizoid. As with the depressive firm, there is a leadership vacuum here. On the second tier of management, there's a good deal of infighting, with junior executives struggling to win the approval of an unresponsive leader. The firm muddles through and drifts; there's a lack of excitement or enthusiasm, and an indifference to praise or criticism.
Compulsive. Its hallmark: Wedded to ritual. Formal control is emphasized, and operations are standardized. Characteristics: Perfectionism, preoccupation with trivial details, insistence that others submit to own way of doing things, lack of spontaneity, inability to relax or see the big picture.