Too Much Narcissism Could Hinder Leadership, Shows Study


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In the past, studies have shown that Narcissists might tend to emerge as leaders within groups. This makes a certain amount of intuitive sense, as those who think highly of their own skills and opinions might be less averse to taking on a leadership role. However, new research is now showing that too much narcissism could actually be bad for leaders.

A new study published in the journal Personnel Psychology has shown that leaders can use a certain amount of narcissism - but only to a point.

"Narcissists tend to be extraverted, and that is leading to the positive relationship between narcissism and leader emergence," said Emily Grijalva, lead author of the study and a psychology professor at the University of Illinois. "But you have to keep in mind that although narcissists are likely to emerge as the group leader, over time, the more negative aspects of narcissism tend to emerge."

These negative aspects can include an inflated sense of self-importance, an insatiable for outside approval, and a lack of empathy. Personality flaws such as these can lead to exploitation, arrogance, and, in some cases, "tyrannical" behavior toward those under their leadership.

"They can be preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of their enormous success, power, attractiveness and intelligence," said Grijalva. "They are addicted to others' admiration. And in the long term, they're not very good at maintaining positive, interpersonal relationships with others."

Grijalva and her co-authors believe that the new research could help businesses screen potential leaders, perhaps even with narcissism-measuring personality tests. The researchers believe that a moderate level of narcissism can be good in leaders, giving them self-confidence that doesn't rise to the level of being antisocial.