Is there an upside to being a narcissistic leader?

by L&D07 Jul 2016
A number of top psychologists in the US have labelled Donald Trump a ‘narcissist’. It’s fascinating then that someone who's heavily associated with that characteristic has risen to become the Republican presidential candidate.

Now, a new study from the University of Vaasa in Finland might have just found an answer.

The researchers looked at 96 leaders and 203 subordinates, and discovered that narcissistic leaders seem to get good assessments from their inferiors.

The catch was that the more narcissistic features the leader had the less time he/she had been in the position.

The study involved looking at the association between leaders' personality, job performance and burnout.

The researcher Hanna Peltokangas found that there are more narcissistic persons among leaders than in other positions, but it is an exaggeration to say that narcissism and leadership would go hand in hand.

"Based on this study it seems that narcissistic leaders' performances might be good only because they had been in their positions for very short periods and had made good first impressions," said Peltokangas.

Another interesting finding was that the narcissistic leaders don't seem to suffer from burnout symptoms.

This was in contrast to very creative leaders who could experience more burnout symptoms than the other leaders.

The study also noted that the leader's performance and personality should always fit to the environment.

Moreover, the research said that there are different demands and challenges in different organisations and positions.

Meanwhile, another interesting study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that narcissistic leaders could be effective if they also acted with humility - despite the two characteristics seeming to be oxymoronic.

When they were humble and narcissistic, their employees' performance improved, and so did their team's level of engagement.

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