Narcissism and Leadership: A Perfect Match?
At first glance, narcissism and leadership might appear like a perfect match. Narcissistic individuals have many prototypical (leader-like) characteristics (such as confidence, dominance, and extraversion); they create positive first impressions in social contexts, and they actively seek positions of power. It is therefore perhaps not surprising that they tend to frequently emerge as leaders in groups. While this has been consistently found in research, it is less well known what kind of impact narcissistic leaders have on those they lead. In this chapter, I will discuss theory and research showing how (grandiose) narcissistic individuals attain leadership positions as well as what happens after they have reached these positions of power. I will discuss how narcissistic leaders possess both positive (such as charisma, extraversion, confidence, and a bold vision) and negative characteristics (such as lack of empathy, aggression, a tendency to exploit others, and egocentrism) and address how they can influence their followers, organizations, and society at large in both a positive and negative way. I will conclude this chapter with a short discussion about possible future research directions. Here, I will highlight the importance of contextual factors in determining the impact of narcissistic leaders and thus advocate the importance for future research to not ask whether narcissistic leaders are effective but rather to ask when they are effective.
KeywordsLeadership Leader emergence Leadership effectiveness Prototypical leader characteristics Role of context
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