What are narcissistic weaknesses

Narcissism: The Key To Success?


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In the age of me-in-love, where selfie sticks belong in hand luggage and self-portrayal on social networks is rewarded with likes, narcissists seem to have an easy time of it. But does your success also apply in the world of work? How are narcissism and leadership related? We did our research and came across unexpected results.

We all know her: that one person who is always the center of attention. Mostly very eloquent, always ready with a story about the latest successes and never embarrassed to interrupt others. This is a typical appearance of the narcissist - this is what science agrees on. What is also noticeable: These people often gather a following of deep admirers. That is understandable: Often they are good speakers, have a charismatic aura and have a firm opinion. Just like their obvious strengths, however, narcissists are often characterized by noticeable weaknesses. These include a pronounced lack of empathy and a distorted self-image. No wonder, then, that there are many celebrities among them, but also failed existences, because this is the fate of narcissism: It promotes success as well as crashes. How can that be?

Not every show-off hides a narcissist

To understand this, the difference between narcissistic personality traits and a narcissistic personality disorder is crucial. While narcissistic personality traits affect people who are only particularly convinced of themselves, those affected by a narcissistic personality disorder suffer from a clinical picture. This goes hand in hand with a lack of empathy and a considerable sensitivity to criticism. In truth, the exaggerated idea of ​​one's own superiority is often the result of a shaky sense of self-worth. But how is narcissism related to professional success? Do we have to worry that our working world is determined by egocentrics who are incapable of criticism? Only partially - because study director Emily Grijalva from the University of Illinois came to unexpected results.

New results on narcissism and leadership

So far, researchers have assumed that as narcissism increases, so too does success as a leader. They attributed this to the fact that narcissistic people have characteristics that have a positive effect on professional success. This includes, for example, a self-confident demeanor and confidence in your own abilities. Study director Grijalva was able to confirm this result with her work. Unlike previous studies, however, her research did not assume that increasing narcissism would lead to increasing success to the same extent. Instead, she also included executive ratings in her research and came to an astonishing result. With an increasing degree of narcissism, the success of an executive rises steeply at first. What is new for science: From a certain degree of narcissism, success in the job drops just as sharply. The success curve resembles an upside-down U (see picture).

The doom of the narcissists

It is interesting to use these results to understand the strengths and weaknesses of narcissism. “Narcissists score above all with their extroversion. You have the gift of shining the first time you meet. This gives you a clear advantage in the interview, ”says Grijalva. At the same time, however, the questionnaires for management evaluation show that narcissistic superiors are increasingly losing the ability to combine self-image and external image. In this context, Grijalva explains: "No matter how the employees judge - a narcissist always thinks of himself that he is a very good boss." This is the pitfall of narcissists. Even if they appear confident and convince with big speeches, they neglect to reflect on themselves and to recognize weaknesses. However, this is crucial for professional success, in order to work on yourself and to develop further. If these skills are missing, the new boss can disappear as quickly as he showed up. What conclusions can we draw from the results?

The mediocre narcissist

With her research, Grijalva appeals to companies to be careful when it comes to developing selection practices for executives that are based on the strengths of narcissism. Often people with strong narcissistic traits do particularly well in these procedures. But these are not the same as the better bosses. "If you look at the average, narcissists are neither the better nor the worse boss," says Grijalva. "The ideal boss is narcissistic en masse."

With her work, she does not contradict many previous theses that emphasize the promising properties of narcissists. However, it expands the perspective on narcissism and success to include the decisive criterion of the right amount. Excessive overestimation of oneself, just like underestimating one's own abilities, can stand in the way of a career as a manager. The fact that the most promising form of narcissism seems to be mediocre seems strangely ironic for a group of people who always strive for superiority.

Mirror Mirror on the wall…

So is narcissism the key to success? Yes and no. As a result, we note that both employees and employers must demonstrate skill when it comes to recognizing the golden mean of narcissism. A large portion of self-confidence and assertiveness is certainly necessary in today's working world if you want to get to the top. However, it is not enough to spit large sounds. If you are at the top, you have to follow through with great deeds. Instead of constantly admiring yourself through Instagram's selfie filter, an honest look in the mirror and into the faces of colleagues is crucial for sustainable success in professional life.

You can find the study here: https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/45624/Emily_Grijalva.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Learn more about leadership skills? Here you can read which competencies future managers should have: Leadership Journey 2.0: How to develop modern managers




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