Narcissism in the Workplace

Narcissism in the Workplace

Research, Opinion and Practice

New Horizons in Management series

Andrew J. DuBrin

The author describes both the positive and negative features of narcissism and presents strategies and tactics for dealing constructively with narcissistic traits and behaviors in oneself and in others. Self-tests and questionnaires found throughout the volume enable readers to reflect on their standing on a variety of behaviors and attitudes associated with narcissism. Each chapter includes a section labeled ‘Guidelines for Application and Practice’ that provides practical advice for applying the research and theories presented within. Further, each chapter concludes with a case history of narcissism, accompanied by a brief analysis of the narcissistic aspects of the case’s subject.

Chapter 4: The Healthy, Productive Workplace Narcissist

Andrew J. DuBrin

Subjects: business and management, organisational behaviour, politics and public policy, leadership


A realistic perspective about narcissists in the workplace is that some of them are healthy and productive, despite the occasional chagrin they cause for others. With a reasonable dose of narcissism, a person can be productive in a high-level position. Many successful sales representatives, particularly those specializing in consumer products, are self-adoring and flamboyant. Yet their level of narcissism is not so high that it prevents them from empathizing with customers. Many highly successful real-estate sales persons tend toward narcissism with some of them being dandies, or their female equivalent. A large proportion of successful business leaders have sufficient narcissistic tendencies to be flamboyant and self-promoting, yet subordinates respond positively to their leadership. Many entrepreneurs tend toward being narcissistic because their love for the product or service they are promoting is intertwined with self-admiration. According to Sigmund Freud, one of the reasons that a moderate degree of narcissism in adults can facilitate a person being healthy and productive is that healthy narcissism is an essential part of normal development.1 Self-love breeds self-confidence. Eventually the healthy child learns to love other people, just as the self-adoring corporate professional also learns to care for coworkers and superiors. In this chapter we explain how the right degree of narcissism contributes to a person being healthy and productive in the workplace. We will also provide suggestions for attaining the right degree of narcissism, despite the enormous challenge in modifying an aspect of the self as complex as a degree of narcissism. A starting point...

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