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4 Dysfunctional Leadership Styles - Part I: The Narcissistic Leader

There is a lot of confusion about the differences between people who are narcissistic versus those who have a narcissistic personality disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”

The narcissist is not mentally ill, does not have a personality disorder and is most interested in gaining power, money and prestige. They may act the same and seem indistinguishable to those with a personality disorder for most people, however, their self-esteem is not as fragile and they are able to develop new behaviors. They seem the same because they use the same dysfunctional behaviors to achieve their agenda. These people are arrogant and obnoxious and act as though they are superior to others. They have little or no empathy and feel entitled to special treatment. They exploit others to get what they want and have no qualms about doing this. With little capacity for reflection, their self-awareness is low. They rarely apologize as they have no insight into what they do and feel little shame or remorse.

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4 Dysfunctional Leadership Styles - Part I: The Narcissistic Leader

  1. 1. APOINT OF VIEW PAPER BY THE EXPERTS IN BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE AND ACHIEVING ORGANIZATIONAL POTENTIAL Narcissistic LEADERS Part 1 of 4 Dysfunctional Leadership Styles Series: AND THE PURSUIT OF Power, Money AND PRESTIGE
  2. 2. Practical Insight THE NEWSLETTER OF CALIBER LEADERSHIP SYSTEMS SEPTEMBER 2015 4 Dysfunctions of Leaders This article is the first in a series of articles on dysfunctional leaders. Each of the articles provides insight into the 4 Dysfunctional Styles: Narcissistic Avoidant Patriarchal (Autocratic) Matriarchal (Nurturing) Each of the dysfunctional leadership styles:  has natural talents and abilities that when directed can be used in the service of the organiza- tion.  has specific behaviors that they use to achieve their own agen- da that get in the way of the organizations goals.  have to be managed and coached in order to shift from functional to dysfunctional behaviors.  can be developed over time to add value to the organization. We customize our leadership devel- opment and coaching services to meet the needs of your leaders and organizations. We encourage you to call us to discuss your needs. www.caliberleadership.com hhilliard@caliberleadership.com 416.406.3939 Part I: The Narcissistic Leadership Style There is a lot of confusion about the differences between people who are narcissistic (Narcissists) versus those who have a narcissistic personality disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” The narcissist is not mentally ill, does not have a personality disorder and is most inter- ested in gaining power, money and prestige. They may act the same and seem indistin- guishable to those with a personality disorder for most people, however, their self- esteem is not as fragile and they are able to develop new behaviors. They seem the same because they use the same dysfunctional behaviors to achieve their agenda. These peo- ple are arrogant and obnoxious and act as though they are superior to others. They have little or no empathy and feel entitled to special treatment. They exploit others to get what they want and have no qualms about doing this. With little capacity for reflec- tion, their self-awareness is low. They rarely apologize as they have no insight into what they do and feel little shame or remorse. People who are narcissistic easily assume the role of leader because they feel entitled to the place at the top. This affirms their belief in their superiority. They enjoy having power and have no difficulty using it to get what they want. Because Narcissistic Leaders have an image of themselves as being great leaders, they are more likely to become leaders than their peers. They are promoted for the image they project rather than for their own capabilities. They easily sell their image and im- press those above them in the organization. Charismatic and influential, they stand out from their peers. They tend to be outgoing, socially confident and enthusiastic. Others are naturally drawn to them and are happy to follow and work hard to please them. The bad news is that promoting Narcissists into leadership roles without a solid strategy for managing their behavior and developing them can have a strong, negative impact on organizational alignment and cohesiveness. Narcissists may be good at rising to pow- er within an organization, but their success usually doesn’t last long. Once people see past the image to who they are and what they are actually capable of doing, it is too late. Studies have shown that narcissist managers are generally rated as average for problem-solving skills, but below average for “leadership skills, interpersonal skills and integrity.” While there are many Narcissistic Leadership behaviors, the following are examples of the more frequent ones and the type of organizational issues they create. Caliber Leadership Systems© 4 Dysfunctions of Leaders
  3. 3. 1. NOT A TEAM PLAYER Narcissistic Leaders have their own agen- da, which is to demonstrate their superior- ity and be the best. They need to have a group of admiring people to follow them and support their ideas and visions. On a leadership team, their personal agenda of- ten conflicts with the agenda of their team. Because they want to show others how superior they are, they disrupt, delay, dis- count and devalue people and fracture the cohesiveness of their team. Easily slighted by others when they aren’t recognized or when they are put in their place, they will use emotions to create further conflict on the team. Fract RESULT: FRACTURED LEADERSHIP TEAM The behavior of the Narcissistic Leader gets in the way of building strong leader- ship teams aligned behind the organiza- tional objectives. Because they need to win, they create power struggles with team members or the team leader; are disruptive during meetings; or they show up late or unprepared to participate. They easily de- flect blame or responsibility and will charm their peers into seeing things from their perspective. This can lead to “us vs. them” dynamics on the team. 2. ARROGANCE & SUPERIORITY Narcissistic Leaders believe they know better than others. They dismiss or devalue the ideas and opinions of their peers, boss and direct reports should they differ from their own. They also exaggerate their achievements and talents, and expect to be recognized as superior. To others, they appear arrogant. They give their opinions and expect others to agree with and defer to them. Status is important to them and they want to associate with other special or high-status people often dismissing others they consider to have no value. RESULT: ORGANIZATIONAL SILOS This leaders wants to be king or queen of the castle. To do this, they have to create their own domain where they can do so. They will implement systems and practices different from those used in the organiza- tion. If the organization has a culture that is family oriented, the culture of their de- partment may be functional and imperson- al. Driven by the belief that their way is the better way, this leader does their own thing at the expense of organizational alignment. 3. LACK OF COMPLIANCE With a strong sense of entitlement, Narcis- sistic Leaders believe they don’t have to comply with organizational policies, proto- cols and even timelines. They expect the exceptions to be made for them and be- lieve their excuses and rational will be ac- cepted without question. Should anyone get upset with them or when they are held accountable, they either blame others or circumstances or they use emotion to get others to back down. They become en- raged should someone say “no” or treat them like everyone else. RESULT: FAILURE TO “WALK THE TALK” While Narcissistic Leaders promote an im- age of the type of leader they are, their behavior rarely aligns. They will promote values, authenticity, consistency and align- CALIBER LEADERSHIP SYSTEMS — Dysfunctions of Leaders—Narcissistic Behavior SEPTEMBER 2015 Caliber Leadership Systems©
  4. 4. ment of behaviors which they follow when it serves them. They will be the first to criticize others for not doing so, but will not listen to feedback about their behavior and the impact it has on the business. This creates performance issues when their direct reports disregard the organizations mandate in favor of the Narcissistic Leader’s. 4. USES PEOPLE FOR OWN AGENDA These leaders have no qualms about using people to achieve his or her own ends. They promote their image of being supe- rior and devalue others to increase their self-esteem. Someone has to be weak so they can be strong. They see vulnerabili- ties in others and get others to serve them by exploiting them. They chose people with low self-esteem and take advantage of their weaknesses. They will criticize, humiliate or embarrass others in public with demeaning jokes or comments. RESULT: NO LEADERSHIP BENCH STRENGTH Because Narcissistic Leaders feel threat- ened by competent people, they don’t hire competent leaders as their businesses grow. Instead they hire people who are less competent or inexperienced to main- tain their status as “top dog.” The result- ing lack of bench strength and leadership gap creates serious issues with employees. It can also interfere with the ability to deliver to customers. Next level managers end up working long hours to compensate for their lack of development and experience. 5. GRANDIOSE GOALS The Narcissistic Leader won’t listen to anyone or anything that doesn’t align with their view of reality. This includes feedback about themselves and their vi- sion. Fuelled by their current success and image of what they can do, they make decisions without testing the reality. Should someone challenge them, espe- cially in a public forum, they retaliate in passive and aggressive ways. Employees learn quickly not to challenge or question them. RESULT: FAILURE TO ACHIEVE GOALS Narcissistic Leaders will take risks that can threaten the value of the organization instead of increasing it. They will build a thriving company only to crash it by tak- ing excessive risks! Looking to increase their status and power, they drive growth so fast that their business implodes. Or they take capital risks without doing due diligence. They reject any advice to the contrary of what they want to do and stay. With little insight into themselves and their motivations, they set their own course for destruction. 6. CONTROLS & OVERPOWER OTHERS While these leaders don’t think of them- selves as controlling, they use many tac- tics to control the behavior of others. They use both aggressive and passive aggressive behaviors and are not above using their emotions to intimidate and manipulate the feelings of others to get their own way. Their agenda is clear. Do it my way or pay the emotional conse- quences. RESULT: CREATES A FEAR CULTURE People who work for or with Narcissistic Leaders often walk on eggshells around them. They are unsure of how they are going to respond and are afraid to offer opposing opinions. While they can’t figure out why anyone would be afraid of them, direct reports become “Yes” men and women. Employees will work hard for them, but will always keep themselves protected for fear they do or say something wrong. It is said that it is most difficult to change the behavior of narcissistic people. This is because they can’t see past their perfect image of themselves to the real person behind it. Developing their emotional intelligence, including building self- awareness, developing empathy and re- flecting on their behavior are all critical to their long-term success as leaders. There are three key barriers that need to be addressed in order to develop Narcissistic Leaders: CALIBER LEADERSHIP SYSTEMS — Dysfunctions of Leaders—Narcissistic Behavior SEPTEMBER 2015 Caliber Leadership Systems©
  5. 5. LACK OF SELF-AWARENESS & SELF- REFLECTION: Narcissistic Leaders can’t see past their inflated image to see their part in the problem. They are defensive rather than insightful. LACK OF ADAPTATION OR CHANGE: Even though their behavior is dysfunc- tional, they don’t change it – because they don’t think they have a problem. They may say they are going to try and then don’t. INABILITY TO SEE THEY ARE THE PROBLEM. Narcissistic Leaders see the cause of problems as being outside of them. Since they don’t see their part they don’t see the need for them to change. They blame others or try to change other people to help them feel better. Narcissistic behavior is a form of adaptation. Long-standing adap- tive patterns of behavior can be changed and new, productive re- sponses and patterns can be put in their place. Based on our experience working with narcissist leaders, they can develop their leadership skills and emotional intelli- gence by doing the following: BUILD SELF-AWARENESS Understanding the drivers of their behav- ior, their emotional needs, strengths and weaknesses and having an accurate assess- ment of their capacity is critical to their development. They also need to under- stand the impact of their behavior on oth- ers and how it gets in the way of them achieving their leadership potential. DEVELOP EMPATHY Learning to consider the perspective of others and imagine how they might feel in a difficult situation allows Narcissistic Leaders to strengthen their relationships with coworkers. They can learn how to tolerate and handle others emotional re- sponses without dismissing or devaluing them. LISTEN TO OTHERS Narcissistic Leaders can learn to listen to what others are saying and not discount information that is contrary to what they believe. Having discussions that help them understand the other persons point of view rather trying to win or show the other person they are wrong reduces the risk of them making impulsive decisions that may negatively impact the business. LEARN TO SHARE Narcissistic Leaders need to learn to share center stage and able to listen as well as talk. They are able to tolerate being on a team without having to take over to show their superiority. It is also important for them to be able to ask for feedback and learn how to coach and mentor others without feeling threatened. HIRE A LEADERSHIP COACH As it is difficult for Narcissistic Leaders to develop without consistent feedback from someone who is sensitive to their charac- ter formation, Leadership Coaching is a must. The Coach needs to understand their personality structure, their defences and be able to confront their dysfunction- al behavior. The Coach needs to show them the potential negative consequences should they not change. PARTICIPATE IN A LEADERSHIP DEVEL- OPMENT PROGRAM WHICH INCLUDES EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE COACHING Narcissistic Leaders must build awareness of how they are contributing to their team and employee’s dysfunction. These people tend to have some natural leader- ship characteristics without having the necessary skills to manage, develop and assess performance. Participating in a team training program lets them be rec- ognized for their progress while, getting feedback from their peers. For information on how we can help you deal with narcissistic or other dysfunctional leadership be- havior in your organization, contact us for a complimentary consultation. heather@caliberleadership.com 416.406.3939 www.caliberleadership.com CALIBER LEADERSHIP SYSTEMS — Dysfunctions of Leaders—Narcissistic Behavior SEPTEMBER 2015 Want to understand more about the impact of personality styles in leadership development & effectiveness? We have developed a comprehensive assessment & development system that considers how the full human experience—brain or- ganization, needs, emotions, personality and conditioning– impacts on behaviour as well as how to develop your brain to change the longstanding patterns of behaviour that get in the way of success. Contact us today to learn more about the Striving Styles Personality System or visit www.StrivingStyles.com Caliber Leadership Systems©

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There is a lot of confusion about the differences between people who are narcissistic versus those who have a narcissistic personality disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” The narcissist is not mentally ill, does not have a personality disorder and is most interested in gaining power, money and prestige. They may act the same and seem indistinguishable to those with a personality disorder for most people, however, their self-esteem is not as fragile and they are able to develop new behaviors. They seem the same because they use the same dysfunctional behaviors to achieve their agenda. These people are arrogant and obnoxious and act as though they are superior to others. They have little or no empathy and feel entitled to special treatment. They exploit others to get what they want and have no qualms about doing this. With little capacity for reflection, their self-awareness is low. They rarely apologize as they have no insight into what they do and feel little shame or remorse.

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