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Chapter 30. Using Emotional Intelligence... > Weighing the Pros and Cons of Narcis...

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Narcissistic Managers

Most of the time, prominent narcissistic traits in managers will eventually harm a company even though the traits may fuel the manager’s rapid rise. How destructive a manager’s narcissism is for a company depends upon the degree of narcissism, the particular aspects of narcissism that are most prominent (grandiosity, devaluation, recklessness, aggression), and the position the manager holds within the company. Self aggrandizement and over-confidence in one’s abilities are not necessarily serious problems. However, high levels of aggression, devaluation of others, and a lack of moral inhibitions can rapidly lead to disaster. Narcissism supporting charisma in an executive tasked with providing the company with a guiding vision and clear strategy goals can be helpful. This is particularly the case in a turnaround situation in which a degree of ruthlessness may be necessary to survive. Narcissism, however, in an executive or manager who is needed to support people and forge compromises could be a disaster. If high turnover is a disaster, then narcissism in the leader will be a disaster. Some glibness in sales personnel can be helpful. But, willingness to say anything to make the sale will eventually damage the company’s reputation. The aspects of narcissism most prominent in the manager are also crucial. Narcissism marked primarily by devaluation, entitlement, and a predisposition to berate workers is far more destructive than narcissism marked primarily by some self-aggrandizement and confidence in making decisions quickly.

Whether the positive aspects outweigh he negative ones depends on the needs of the organization at a particular point in time, the relative amounts of charisma versus mistreatment of others, how much the organization needs a charismatic leader, how much damage the organization suffers as a result of mistreatment of subordinates, and whether the leader is lucky enough to be making the right decisions.


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