Narcissism in the Workplace

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NARCISSISTS: HELPFUL OR HARMFUL?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the Business World

I. Introduction and Purpose
Having an encouraging self-attitude, being self-assured, and having high self-esteem are worthwhile attributes in both work and personal life; some take these positive attributes to the extreme and become self-regarding, self-adoring, egocentric, and show little empathy for the problems and concerns of others. These people can be considered narcissists, and they can be especially problematic in business settings. Narcissists in work organizations, I believe, are more problematic than beneficial. They tend to cause problems in the workplace due to their toxic personalities. The purpose of this research paper is to prove my point that narcissists are more harmful in a workplace environment than helpful. I will point out the failures of companies due to narcissistic leaders. Although there are companies that are successful who have had a narcissistic leader such as Jack Welch and his company General Electric, it will not be covered in this paper. Secondly, I will make the point that narcissists as leaders are toxic for companies due to their relationship patterns and how it can hurt the business. Freud’s three types of personalities relate to interactions between people that helps further prove the point that narcissists are not beneficial in workplace environments. Thirdly, I will discuss possible techniques to cope with narcissistic leaders and how employees can get their opinions across to their leaders. II. Failures due to Narcissistic Leaders

As narcissists become progressively self-assured, they act more impulsively. They feel free of constrictions, and their ideas and beliefs flourish. They believe they’re invincible, which further inspires followers’ enthusiasm and feeds into feelings of grandiosity. One example of a company’s failure due to narcissism is Pehr Gyllenhammar and Volvo. He had a vision that attracted a broad international audience—a plan to transform the industrial workplace by substituting the dehumanizing assembly line mimicked in Chaplin’s Modern Times. His wildly popular vision called for team-based craftsmanship. Model factories were built and publicized to international praise. But his success in pushing through these dramatic changes also sowed the seeds for his downfall. Gyllenhammar started to feel he could ignore the concerns of his operational managers. He pursued chancy and expensive new business deals, which he publicized on television and in the press. On one level, you can credit Gyllenhammar’s falling out of touch with his workforce simply due to faulty strategy. But it is also possible to blame it to his narcissistic personality. His overestimation of himself led him to believe that others would want him to be the leader of a worldwide enterprise. In turn, these fantasies led him to pursue a partnership with Renault, which was extremely unpopular with Swedish employees. Because Gyllenhammar was deaf to complaints about Renault, Swedish managers were forced to take their case public. In the end, shareholders aggressively rejected Gyllenhammar’s plan, leaving him with no option but to resign. At the University of Amsterdam, a study was taken by Nevicka Babora to determine whether or not narcissists make for good leaders. The study recruited 150 participants that were divided into groups of three. One person was randomly assigned to be the group’s leader; all were told they could contribute advice, but that the leader was responsible for making the decision. Then they undertook a group task: choosing a job candidate. Of 45 items of information about the candidate, some were given to all three, and some to only one of the participants. The experiment was designed so that using only the information all three were privy to, the group would opt for a lesser candidate. Sharing all the information that was given would lead to the best choice. After the...
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