10 Narcissistic Leadership Characteristics
In the narcissistic leadership style, leaders are interested only in themselves and they prioritize their interests even to the detriment of others.
Narcissistic behavior involves dominance, hostility, and arrogance. This leadership style turns destructive when it is driven by the person’s need for power, and admiration and approval from others. However, healthy narcissistic behavior may also make good leadership qualities.
Here are some of the common traits of the narcissistic leader.
1. Lead with vision
In the positive spectrum of narcissistic leadership, the leaders understand the importance of having a vision that people believe in. These leaders are able to see the big picture, or rather, they see things that aren’t there yet, and attempt to create them.
2. Desire to be admired
Narcissistic leaders have a great yearning to be admired, and they usually tend to have a number of star-struck followers as well. Narcissists have a gift of attracting followers, and more often than not they do so with their highly developed verbal skills and articulation. The leaders are usually very skillful orators, and can deliver moving speeches. There is no dearth of charisma in a narcissistic leader.
3. Unable to take criticism
Narcissists are usually extremely sensitive, and this makes narcissistic leaders particularly sensitive to harsh criticism. They are unable take criticism constructively and brood over it endlessly. They cannot tolerate slights or dissenting opinions, and can be quite abrasive with those who dare voice a negative opinion.
4. Inability to listen
Narcissistic leaders are not good listeners, so don’t go talking to them about a vexing problem. This disinterest in listening presumably develops as a defense mechanism to keep them from acknowledging criticism. Narcissistic leaders also believe that subordinates do not have much to contribute, and their opinions need not be taken seriously.
Healthy narcissistic behavior involves the real concern for other people, and this type of leader does not devalue the opinions and ideas of other people. On the other hand, leaders exhibiting destructive narcissistic behavior may not hesitate to devalue or humiliate others with no sense of remorse.
If the leader has a healthy level of narcissism, they will have a set of values, the ability to follow a consistent path, and will usually follow through with plans. When narcissism turns destructive, you get a leader who has no values, is fickle and changes direction often, and is easily bored.
7. Empire building
A narcissistic leader wants to take over the world and create an empire. They want to leave behind a larger than life legacy, and therefore actively seeks to expand their sphere of influence, hire more subordinates, or increase their reach and authority within the organization. A narcissistic entrepreneur will keep building one company after another.
8. Lack of empathy
While they crave for empathy and understanding from others, narcissists themselves are not the most empathetic people. Some of the most charismatic and successful narcissists are not known for empathy. This lack of empathy can actually be a strength in times of chaos and radical change because they are not bogged down by feelings and emotions and the demands of their employees.
And narcissistic leader is ruthlessly competitive. They are relentless in their pursuit of victory. They take games seriously, and see them as a test of their strength and survival skills. Since many narcissists are not high on conscience, they are quite capable of doing whatever it takes for a win.
10. Not good with mentoring
Since they lack empathy and are also extremely self-reliant, it is very difficult for a narcissistic leader to mentor somebody or be mentored. When they do mentor, they instruct rather than coach and try to make their protégés out to be smaller and paler versions of themselves.
Y Scouts is a leadership search practice that connects purpose-driven organizations with purpose-driven leaders. We believe that the best employer and employee connections start by connecting through a shared purpose.
What’s Your Why? Click here if you’re an employer looking to find an authentic leader. Click here if you want to make a difference in a new leadership role.