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Narcissism a personality disorder or efficient leadership style

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  • 1. ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR ASSIGNMENT (WMP13- SECTION-A)TOPIC: NARCISSISM A PERSONALITY DISORDER OR EFFICIENTLEADERSHIP STYLEGROUP MEMBERS:MAHENDRA PRATAP SINGHABSTRACT:Narcissism- a personality trait encompassing grandiosity, arrogance, self-absorption, entitlement,fragile self-esteem, and hostility- is an attribute of many powerful leaders. Narcissistic leadershave grandiose belief systems and leadership styles, and are generally motivated by their needsfor power and admiration rather than empathetic concern for the constituents and institutions theylead. However, narcissists also possess the charisma and grand vision that are vital to effectiveleadership. We should also critically review the traits of Narcissists Leadership, productiveNarcissism, Unproductive Narcissism, it’s pros & cons, behavior of Narcissists leaders in crisismanagement & organizational recommendations. We can say that no leadership style is pure &have side effects of each other in small proportions among themselves, predominant constituentwill be the main style & others will also be in small fractions. So, there is a little bit of narcissismin every individual.NARCISSISTIC LEADERSHIP AN ASSESSMENTNarcissism is a term used to describe a focus on the self and self-admiration that is taken to anextreme. The word "narcissism" comes from a Greek myth in which a handsome young mannamed Narcissus sees his reflection in a pool of water and falls in love with it.Narcissistic personality disorder is one of a group of conditions called dramatic personalitydisorders. People with these disorders have intense, unstable emotions and a distorted self-image. Narcissistic personality disorder is further characterized by an abnormal love of self, anexaggerated sense of superiority and importance, and a preoccupation with success and power.However, these attitudes and behaviors do not reflect true self-confidence. Instead, the attitudesconceal a deep sense of insecurity and a fragile self-esteem.Normally narcissists are self-centered and boastful and seek constant attention and admiration.They consider themselves better than others and exaggerate their talents and achievements.They consider that they are entitled to special treatment & are easily hurt but may not show it.They set unrealistic goals & may take advantage of others to achieve their goals. They expectthat that others will automatically go along with what he or she wants. They are preoccupied withfantasies that focus on unlimited success, power, intelligence, beauty, or love. They haveinability to recognize or identify with the feelings, needs, and viewpoints of others & envy ofothers or a belief that others are envious of him or her. They have arrogant in behavior &hypersensitive to insults (real or imagined), criticism, or defeat, possibly reacting with rage,shame and humiliation.
  • 2. Exact reasons of development of this personality trait in individual is not known but it may causedue to extreme rearing of child like excessive pampering & making the child to achieve the highergoals initially to satisfy their own self esteem Opposite to this like abuse or trauma inflicted byparents or other authority figures during childhood. The disorder usually is evident by earlyadulthood."The study of human nature may be thought of as an art with many tools at its disposal,an art closely related to all the other arts, and relevant to them all. In literature and poetry,particularly, this is especially significant. Its primary aim must be to broaden ourknowledge of human beings, that is to say, it must enable us all to become better, fuller,and finer people." -- Alfred AdlerNARCISSISM & LEADERSHIP:Sigmund Freud dubbed narcissistic. “People of this type impress others as being ‘personalities,’”he wrote, describing one of the psychological types that clearly fall within the range of normality.“They are especially suited to act as a support for others, to take on the role of leaders, and togive a fresh stimulus to cultural development or damage the established state of affairs.”Narcissists are exactly not completely negative people but if we see the history this type ofpersonality has contributed immensely to the society. Apart from positive there are numerousexamples of negative influences on society. Throughout history, narcissists have always emergedto inspire people and to shape the future. When military, religious, and political arenas dominatedsociety, it was figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Mahatma Ghandi, JL Nehru or FranklinDelano Roosevelt who determined the social agenda. On the other hand we had leaders likeAdolf Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam Husain, Gaddafi, Khomeini, Osama Bin laden who have causedthe irreparable damage to society. Freud thought narcissists were the hardest personality types toanalyze. Consider how an executive at Oracle described his narcissistic CEO Larry Ellison: “Thedifference between God and Larry is that God does not believe he is Larry.” That observation isamusing, but it is also troubling. Not surprisingly, most people still think of narcissists in aprimarily negative way. After all, Freud named the type after the mythical figure Narcissus, whodied because of his pathological preoccupation with himself.Maccoby redefines the productive narcissist as the personality type who is best suited to leadduring times of rapid social and economic change. At the same time, he makes clear thatnarcissistic leadership doesnt always mean successful leadership and that narcissists lackingstrategic intelligence are fated to crash and burn. After close examination it is found thatpersonality plays the crucial role in the workplace it is found how narcissism has beenmisunderstood and how throughout history narcissists have always emerged to inspire peopleand to shape the future. While narcissism can be extraordinarily useful-even necessary-foreffective leadership, it also indicates how it also has a distinct downside when narcissists becomeunrealistic dreamers and harbor the illusion that only circumstances or enemies block theirsuccess. Strategic intelligence is the hallmark of the productive narcissist, and by elucidating itskey qualities - and how they can be developed - Maccoby illuminates both what it takes fornarcissists to truly succeed and how to work with them most effectively.PRODUCTIV E NARCISSISM:Leaders such as Jack Welch or George Soros are examples of productive narcissists. They aregifted and creative strategists who see the big picture and find meaning in the risky proposition ofchanging the world and leaving behind a legacy. So, why we look to productive narcissists intimes of great transition is that they have the audacity to push through the massivetransformations that society periodically undertakes. Productive narcissists are not only risktakers willing to get the job done but also charmers who can convert the masses with theirrhetoric. The danger is that narcissism can turn unproductive when, lacking self-knowledge andrestraining anchors, narcissists become unrealistic dreamers. They nurture grand schemes and
  • 3. harbor the illusion that only circumstances or enemies block their success. This tendency towardgrandiosity and distrust is the Achilles’ heel of narcissism. Because of it, even brilliant narcissistscan come under suspicion for self-involvement, unpredictability and in extreme cases paranoia.UNPRODUCTIVE NARCISSISM:A large number of narcissists at the helm of corporations today, the challenge facingorganizations is to ensure that such leaders do not self-destruct or lead the company to disaster.That can take some doing because it is very hard for narcissists to work through their issues andvirtually impossible for them to do it alone. Narcissists need colleagues and even therapists ifthey hope to break free from their limitations. But because of their extreme independence andself-protectiveness, it is very difficult to get near them. For their part, employees must learn howto recognize and work around narcissistic bosses.STRENGTHS OF NARCISSIST LEADER:As far as leadership is concerned it can be instructive type, erotic type that makes poor managerswho need approval at every step. Those leaders who are obsessed with their profession arebetter operational leaders who are critical and cautious. If we analyze narcissist they are closestto our collective image of great leaders. The main reason for this is that they have compelling,even gripping, visions for companies and they have an ability to attract followers.GREAT VISION:Often we hear a great leader be called as a person of great vision. Productive narcissistsunderstand the vision thing particularly well, largely because they are by nature people who seethe big picture. They are not analyzers who can break up big questions into manageableproblems; they aren’t number crunchers either. Nor do they try to extrapolate to understand thefuture they attempt to create it.Napoleon a classic narcissist once remarked, “Revolutions are ideal times for soldiers with alot of wit and the courage to act. ”Narcissist take advantage of unfavorable conditions & come out as winners as they have ability toinfluence other people by showing them a big dream & compelling others to follow them throughtheir imposing personality. This makes them successful. The success does not mean that it isalways good for society; many times the narcissists put others at peril to fulfill their dreams. AdolfHitler is a classical example of this. To fulfill his desire & ego he engulfed the whole world intoWorld War II & later it proved demise for him & his country. But we will all agree that all thesepeople whether productive or unproductive have a great vision.SCORES OF FOLLOWERS:If we take the simplest definition of a leader is someone whom other people will follow.Narcissists are especially gifted in attracting followers, and more often than not, they do sothrough language. Narcissists believe that words can move mountains and that inspiringspeeches can change people. Narcissistic leaders are often skillful orators, and this is one of thetalents that make them so charismatic. Indeed, anyone who has seen narcissists perform canattest to their personal magnetism and their ability to stir enthusiasm among audiences.Obama became the president of United States as he could manage to have millions of followers& inspiring the common public by jargons like “YES,WE CAN” & John F Kennedy’s wartimebroadcast, “Ask not what your country can do for you”.Even when people respond positively to a narcissist, there are dangers. That’s because charismais a double-edged sword-it fosters both closeness and isolation. As he becomes increasingly self-
  • 4. assured, the narcissist becomes more spontaneous. He feels free of constraints. Ideas flow. Hethinks he’s invincible. This energy and confidence further inspires his followers. But the veryadulation that narcissist demands can have a corrosive effect. As he expands, he listens evenless to words of caution and advice. After all, he has been right before, when others had theirdoubts. Rather than try to persuade those who disagree with him, he feels justified in ignoringthem-further creating a sense of isolation.WEAKNESSES OF THE NARCISSISTIC LEADERDespite the warm feelings that charisma can evoke, narcissists are typically not comfortable withtheir own emotions. They listen only for the kind of information they seek. They don’t learn easilyfrom others. They don’t like to teach but prefer to indoctrinate and make speeches. Theydominate meetings with subordinates. The result for the organization is greater internalcompetitiveness at a time when everyone is already under as much pressure as they canpossibly stand. Perhaps the main problem is that the narcissist’s faults tend to become evenmore pronounced as he becomes more successful.SENSITIVE TO CRITICISMSince narcissists are extraordinarily sensitive they shun emotion as a whole. It’s one of thegreatest paradoxes in this age of teamwork and partnering is that the best corporate leader in thecontemporary world is the type of person who is emotionally isolated. Narcissistic leaderstypically keep others at arm’s length. They have difficulty with knowing or acknowledging theirown feelings, they are uncomfortable with other people expressing theirs-especially their negativefeelings. Indeed, even productive narcissists are extremely sensitive to criticism, which feel tothem like knives threatening their self-image and their confidence in their visions.POOR LISTENERS:One serious consequence of this oversensitivity to criticism is that narcissistic leaders often donot listen when they feel threatened or attacked. Some narcissists are so defensive that they goso far as to make a virtue of the fact that they don’t listen. The normal response of suchmanagers is that the subordinates are paid to listen & they are paid to speak. This is detrimentalfor any organization as the leaders decision is final & nobody can analyze that. The out come ofsuch decisions is highly risky. Moreover fresh ideas are also suppressed. Nevertheless, successis no excuse for narcissistic leaders not to listen.LACK OF EMPATHYToday in the corporate world “emotional competencies” have become a key ingredient ofsuccessful leadership & requires a strongly developed sense of empathy. But although they craveempathy from others, productive narcissists are not noted for being particularly empatheticthemselves. Of course leaders do need to communicate persuasively. But a lack of empathy didnot prevent some of history’s greatest narcissistic leaders from knowing how to communicate-andinspire. Neither Churchill, Stalin, nor Mao Tse-tung were empathetic. And yet they inspired peoplebecause of their passion and their conviction at a time when people longed for certainty. In fact, intimes of radical change, lack of empathy can actually be strength. A narcissist finds it easier thanother personality types to buy and sell companies, to close and move facilities, and to lay offemployees decisions that inevitably make many people angry and sad. But narcissistic leaderstypically have few regrets. As one CEO said, “If I listened to my employees‘ needs and demands,they would eat me alive.”Given this lack of empathy, it’s hardly surprising that narcissistic leaders don’t score particularlywell on evaluations of their interpersonal style. Narcissists don’t want to change and as long asthey are successful, they don’t think they have to.
  • 5. DISTASTE FOR MENTORINGLack of empathy and extreme independence make it difficult for narcissists to mentor and bementored. They seldom mentor others, and when they do they typically want their protégés to bepale reflections of themselves. Even those narcissists like Jack Welch who are held up as strongmentors are usually more interested in instructing than in coaching. Although narcissistic leadersappear to be at ease with others, they find intimacy-which is a prerequisite for mentoring bedifficult. Younger narcissists will establish peer relations with authority rather than seek a parentlike mentoring relationship. They want results and are willing to take chances arguing withauthority.AN INTENSE DESIRE TO COMPETENarcissistic leaders are relentless and ruthless in their pursuit of victory. Games are not games tothem but tests of their survival skills. Of course, all successful managers want to win, butnarcissists are not restrained by conscience. Organizations led by narcissists are generallycharacterized by intense internal competition. Their passion to win is marked by both the promiseof glory and the primitive danger of extinction. It is a potent brew that energizes organizations,creating a sense of urgency and competitiveness. But it can also be dangerous. These leaderssee everything as a threat.NARCIST LEADERS & CRISIS MANAGEMENT Effective crisis management has become paramount for organizations operating intoday’s global market. The media is a constant reminder that organizations are not immune tocrises. On any given day, we can either hear or read about organizations facing lawsuits, layoffs,bankruptcy, violence, and so forth. In the event of a crisis, effective leadership becomes central tothe operation of the organization. The crisis leader must be able to communicate accurate andprompt information to numerous constituencies, both internal and external to the organization. Ina sense, the crisis leader becomes the organization’s public face; that is, providing and explainingthe crisis, responding to accusations of wrongdoing, justifying and explaining choices, andoffering assurances the problem has been resolved. The crisis leader also establishes an overalltone for the crisis by remaining calm, personifying authority and control, and reinforcing theorganization’s core values. In the event of a crisis, a charismatic style of leadership may enhancean organization’s response to return to a state of normal operation. Yet, on the other hand, acharismatic style of leadership can also produce disastrous outcomes for both employees and theorganization in the event of a crisis. Charismatic leaders can be prone to extreme narcissism,which can lead them to promote highly self-serving and grandiose aims. “The leader’sbehaviors can become exaggerated, lose touch with reality, or become vehicles for purepersonal gain”. Narcissistic leaders, who have an overpowering sense of self-importance,coupled with the need to be the center of attention, will often ignore the viewpoints of otherswithin the organization, as well as the development of leadership abilities in their followers. Suchbehaviors may not only harm the leader, but also potential followers, company employees, aswell as the organization.PRE-CRISISThe pre-crisis stage of crisis management focuses upon the organization being able to detectpotential crises, address methods of prevention, and being prepared in the event of a crisis.Although no organization can be fully prepared for every crisis, an organization can be prepared
  • 6. for many crises especially those that may be imminent or probable, due to the nature of theorganization’s operation. After the warning signs have been detected, the organization mustdecide upon specific courses of action, in order to eliminate the possibility of a crisis. Narcissismmay affect the pre-crisis stage of crisis management. A majority of the pre-crisis stage focusesupon planning, implementing, and advocating programs in the event of a crisis. A crisis leadermust be able to effectively construct and design programs that will ensure the organization will beable to respond proactively during a crisis. Narcissists, however, may have problems workingwithin the pre-crisis stage. According to Lubit (2002)-“Their desire for excitement to fill their sense of boredom and emptiness, along with theirlack of attachment to a set of values, leads to rapid changes in interests. As a result,[narcissists] tend to make sudden and repeated changes in organizational plans, neverfinishing the process of building needed core competencies or finishing projects.Moreover, [narcissists) may fail to pay attention to details, being interested primarily in thegrand plans”.Following are the response of Narcissists in Crisis- • Narcissists may affect an organization’s proper preparation for a crisis. • Narcissists may affect an organization’s initial response to a crisis. • Narcissists may be more committed to effective crisis management if positive feedback regarding task ability is made public. • Narcissists may be less committed to effective crisis management if negative feedback regarding task ability is made public. • Narcissists are less likely to take the blame for adverse events that occurred during a crisis. • Narcissists are less likely to be critical of their leadership role during a crisis. • Narcissists may affect an organization’s opportunity to learn from the crisis.ORGANIZATIONAL RECOMMENDATIONSOrganizations threatened with narcissism have various options that may be employed in theevent of a crisis. First, an organization may encourage the use of a trusted sidekick to work alongwith the narcissistic leader. According to Maccoby (2004), many narcissists often develop a closerelationship with one person, a trusted sidekick, who acts as an anchor in keeping their behaviorgrounded. During a crisis, the trusted sidekick could inform the narcissists when she or he hasoverstepped and placed the organization’s reputation in danger. Furthermore, the trustedsidekick could assist the leader in addressing sensitive issues that may have developed as aresult of the crisis. In both situations, the trusted sidekick must get the narcissists to believe theideas forwarded do coincide with his or her views (of the narcissists) and general interests.Another option available to organizations is to consider reducing the degree of power of thenarcissists. A number of structural devices could be implemented to accomplish this task. Forexample, an organization might consider redistributing the power within the organization, so thatmore than one person is involved in making strategic decisions, which may affect the entireorganization. “Cross-functional committees, task forces, and executive committees can provide auseful forum in which a multitude of managers can express their viewpoints, providingopportunities for the narcissistic leaders to learn from and have their influence mitigated byothers”. From a crisis management perspective, the narcissistic leader would not have completecontrol over situations that may be potentially threatening to the organization. Other leaderswithin the organization, who have a vested interest in the organization’s survival, could inform thenarcissist’s how best to handle a particular situation.
  • 7. Organizations might also consider implementing a 360-degree feedback survey to employeeswithin the company. Narcissists are unlikely to contain their problematic behaviors whencommunicating with employees within the organization, especially in the event of a crisis.Surveys could be administered to employees after each rehearsal and actual crisis. All memberswould be expected to provide anonymous, confidential information on their superiors’performance. Information collected from the survey may be shared with the crisis leader, andassist upper-management in reexamining their choice as the crisis management leader. Finally,organizations interested in retaining narcissists, but are also concerned with their behavior, mightconsider implementing some form of in-house counseling service. Counseling or professionalservice would send a strong signal that senior officials are concerned with the welfare of theiremployees, the organization, as well as the narcissist’s. Furthermore, counseling or professionalservice would allow the narcissist’s the opportunity to acknowledge and possibly reform his or herbehavior, before being permanently removed from the organization.CONCLUSION:There is a little bit of narcissism in every personality but what differentiates Narcissists with othersis degree of narcissism. As per our conclusion a small fraction of this trait is good for any leaderbut when he or she enters in the zone of extreme narcissism it becomes self-annihilating. So, thequestion is to quantify that degree of Narcissism. One dimension may be that it should be presentin that proportion which is just enough to boost ones confidence & maintain self-esteem. So, wecan conclude that productive narcissism contributes positively to the society & organization &unproductive narcissism is a curse.The group members of IIM Lucknow- NOIDA Campus WMP-13 Section A have produced this article after research from various sources & self-contribution asproject work. This for the academic purpose only.