Narcissism in the Workplace
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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.
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Chapter 6: Narcissism and Dysfunctional Leadership

Andrew J. DuBrin

Extract

6. Narcissism and dysfunctional leadership Few people who become leaders in organizations begin their career as dysfunctional narcissists and, despite their behavior, receive a series of promotions until they occupy an executive position. The situation of a dysfunctional narcissist in a high-level leadership position is more likely that of a productive narcissist whose narcissism later intensified when given considerable power. The opportunity suddenly to have control over others and spend large sums of money without being closely scrutinized, triggers the person into such behaviors as sexually harassing subordinates and vendors, and purchasing an elaborate residence used more for personal than business purposes. As analyzed by Seth A. Rosenthal and Todd L. Pittinsky, dysfunctional narcissistic leadership occurs when leaders’ actions are principally motivated by their own egomaniacal needs and beliefs. Furthermore, these needs and beliefs supersede the needs and interests of the constituents and institutions they lead.1 When narcissism is carried to its pathological extreme, narcissistic leaders can do a lot of damage. They might leave damaged systems and relationships in their wake, and spearhead activities that bring them glory but damage the organization. An example would be a narcissistic leader of an industrial products company encouraging the investment in a consumer products company for the real purpose of extending his power and scope. The charm and other persuasive skills of the narcissist convince the board that the thrust into consumer products is a good idea. The expansion into consumer products proves to be a dud, draining off precious resources. In...

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