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  • Writer's pictureJohan Smith

Narcissistic leadership

A narcissist remains a strange being: they never recognise themselves. The me, myself and I is just too strong and dominate everything (and often also everyone). I don’t know anyone who works with or for a narcissist who is happy. Everyone talks secretly, gossips, moans and groans, and suffers. A narcissist completely misses what a team can accomplish. A narcissist does not realise the power of a team. No, their ego is too great. The narcissistic leader thinks he or she is in fact the team. What a mistake! What a loss for an organisation.

An unknown person describes it as follows:

Narcissistic leadership is a leadership style in which the leader is only interested in him/herself. Their priority is themselves – at the expense of their people/group members. This leader exhibits the characteristics of a narcissist: arrogance, dominance and hostility.

The consequences of narcissistic leadership are rarely positive or attractive. As described above, it’s at the expense of others.

Firstly, employees (of a school, church or business) are worried, they experience fear and often, chronic stress. These can be triggers for anxiety and depression. The emotional wellbeing of such an organisation's employees is therefore something to be concerned about. This tense, unhappy and often depressed person arrives home after work and the entire household is negatively affected.

A narcissistic leader cares a lot: usually only about himself/herself. Empathy towards employees is non-existent. No, they are driven and must operate like machines. The oil of empathy for the ‘machine’ is missing and therefore there’s frequent rust or broken gears.

Research by Berkeley Haas points to the following:

The impact of a narcissistic leader can be an enduring one. The study shows that narcissistic leaders "infect" the culture of their organizations, which results in diminishing levels of things like integrity and collaboration, even after the leader has left.

This is a heartbreaking story and one can only plead with boards, governing bodies and church councils to be vigilant about narcissistic leadership and take decisive action against it.

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