I read an interesting article today: “Narcissists make bad leaders; here’s why”
It discussed how self-centeredness and authoritarianism get in the way of effective management. While this style of leadership is probably more rare than it used to be, it exists. I see it too frequently still. A narcissist is usually confidant and therefore, may seem like a leader. Unfortunately, these same personality traits will keep them from getting the most from their team. Ultimately, when these people are leading groups of people, the team’s creative thinking will be stymied and their full potential minimized.
In the article, an experiment was conducted to test narcissism. Each member was given a piece of exclusive information and they had to share their information with only the leader. The leader took the information and made the final decision. The groups with the most egotistical leader chose the least preferred option nearly every time. Although, when the group was given a questionnaire to rate the leader, the most narcissistic leaders rated the highest every time.
The point is, narcissism is very convincing, but when measured against productivity and effective management, the last thing a group needs is an egomaniac in charge.
Most of us get a “gut feeling” when we first meet a person, and frequently that feeling is correct. I know I get it when I meet someone who seems to be “smoke and mirrors”. I often wonder why other people do not notice the momentary expression of evil that flashes across their face, or why they can’t see the insecurity breeding just below the perfect hair, flashy smile, and strong handshake. Maybe they do see it, maybe they know the group is failing because the leader is more of a dictator. Why do they follow anyway? What is the best way to handle these situations?
If the narcissist is already in a place of place of power, it can be even more intimidating to confront them or to question their style to other leadership. But, if you are the monkey in the middle, you can make an impact by kind, polite manipulation. You can find ways to make the difficult leader see a different point of view, remind him that when the team looks good – he looks good. This person definitely does not want to fail, they just find it harder to listen to points of view other than their own.
Most importantly, when you are in charge, be aware of your self and fight against narcissistic tendencies. In the end it will bring both you and the group down. The one in charge is not always right, and sometimes that person is you.