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 5: Narcissism and Leadership Effectiveness

Andrew J. DuBrin

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


To better understand narcissism in the workplace it is essential to delve into the potential benefits of narcissism despite the many problems this personality trait and its associated behavior create. An analogy can be drawn to the potential advantages of red wine. The problems associated with drinking too much wine are well known. Yet many studies have emerged suggesting that moderate intake of red wine has many health benefits including warding off cardiac disease, lowering cholesterol levels, and even living longer. Similarly the right amount and type of narcissism can contribute to leadership effectiveness as will be described in this chapter. The idea that narcissists can be effective in leadership positions was proposed a while back by Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries and Danny Miller. They differentiated among three types of narcissistic leaders: reactive; self-deceptive; and constructive. The authors contended that the reactive narcissist does not listen to advisors or subordinates, whereas the self-deceptive narcissist will try to make a show of appearing interested in or sympathetic to the opinion of subordinates. Leaders who are constructive narcissists will listen more carefully to group members, partly because they know intuitively that listening to others often results in being liked.1 Two scholars at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University, Seth A. Rosenthal and Todd L. Pittinsky, reason that the prevalence of narcissistic leaders in all sectors of society suggests that there must be some positive aspects to narcissistic leaders. The air of total confidence and dominance so characteristic of narcissism...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information