Here are several insights from their review of the research. Narcissists:
- Tend not to have good long-term relationships with others; may be seen positively early on (well-dressed, charming, confident, humorous) but often perceptions of narcissists become negative (arrogant, self-centered).
- Use interpersonal relationships mostly for self-enhancement, can exploit others, be parasitic.
- Respond negatively to feedback with which they disagree, perhaps derogating others, become obnoxious, aggressive.
- Appear to be oblivious to any feedback that disagrees with their self-perceptions.
- Tend to be hypervigilant to any perceived threats to their self-esteem, real or imagined.
- Impulsive, “more likely to act on their negative emotions” (p. 113).
- Act for short-term gains; favor bold, risky actions.
One study found no difference in the performance of companies regardless of whether or not the CEO was narcissistic. Narcissists tend to want leadership positions, volunteer for opportunities. Grijalva and Harms reached no definitive conclusion on the effectiveness of narcissistic leaders and called for more research.
The authors noted “leadership is not just about the leader” (p. 116). I think followers may see negative narcissistic behaviors before those higher up in the organization see them, if they ever do. Eventually most of us will meet or know narcissistic leaders. I have known a few who appeared simply to be charismatic but in time their flaws were revealed to many. We do not have to search far in our national media to find examples of charismatic, even gifted leaders undone by their narcissistic behaviors. Grijalya and Harms suggested a collaborative, ethical organizational culture makes it less likely that a narcissist will do great harm to the organization and others. Another reason for leaders to build strong collaborative, ethical environments.
Grijalva, E., & Harms, P. D. (2014). Narcissism: An integrative synthesis and dominance complementarity model. The Academy of Management Perspectives, 28 (2), 108-127.
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