Narcissism in the workplace

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Narcissism in the workplace involves the impact of narcissistic employees and managers in workplace settings.

Job interviews[edit]

Narcissists typically perform well at job interviews; they receive more favorable hiring ratings from interviewers than individuals who are not narcissists. Typically, because they can make favorable first impressions, though that may not translate to better job performance once hired.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

Impact on workplace satisfaction[edit]

Impact on stress, absenteeism and staff turnover[edit]

There tends to be a higher level of stress with people who work with or interact with a narcissist. While there are a variety of reasons for this to be the case, an important one is the relationship between narcissism and aggression. Aggression is believed to moderate the relationship between narcissism and counterproductive work behaviors.[10] According to Penney and Spector, narcissism is positively related to counterproductive workplace behaviors, such as interpersonal aggression, sabotaging the work of others, finding excuses to waste other peoples' time and resources, and spreading rumors.[11] These aggressive acts can increase the stress of other employees,[12] which in turn increases absenteeism and staff turnover.[13] Moreover, no correlation was found between employees under the directions of a narcissist leader and absenteeism. However, employees under the direction of a non-narcissist leader show a decline on absenteeism over time.[14]

Workplace bullying[edit]

In 2007, researchers Catherine Mattice and Brian Spitzberg at San Diego State University, USA, found that narcissism revealed a positive relationship with bullying. Narcissists were found to prefer indirect bullying tactics (such as withholding information that affects others' performance, ignoring others, spreading gossip, constantly reminding others of mistakes, ordering others to do work below their competence level, and excessively monitoring others' work) rather than direct tactics (such as making threats, shouting, persistently criticizing, or making false allegations).[15] This is significant in the workplace because narcissists are likely to be more emotionally volatile and aggressive than other employees, which could become a risk for all employees.[15]

The research also revealed that narcissists are highly motivated to bully, and that to some extent, they are left with feelings of satisfaction after a bullying incident occurs.[16] Despite the fact that many narcissists will avoid work, they can be eager to steal the work of others. In line with other dark triad traits, many narcissists will manipulate others and their environment so that they can claim responsibility for company accomplishments that they had little or nothing to do with.[17] A study was done in 2017, that looked at dark traits within those who hold leadership positions and that effect on employee depression. The research done supported the idea that employees mental health and stability was negatively affected by bullying (some narcissistic behavior) in the workplace.[18]

Organizational Design Preferences[edit]

Narcissists like hierarchical organizations because they think they will rise to high ranks and reap status and power. They take special interest in acquiring leadership positions and may be better at procuring them.[19] Besides, narcissists are less interested in hierarchies where there is little opportunity for upward mobility.[20] The prototypical narcissist is more concerned with getting praised and how they are perceived than doing what benefits all of the "stakeholders".[21] Some narcissistic attributes may confer benefits, but the negative and positive outcomes of narcissistic leadership are not yet fully understood. In terms of the internal functioning of organizations, narcissists can be especially damaging, or ill-fit, to jobs that require judicious self assessment, heavily rely on teams, and/or use 360 degree feedback.[5]

Corporate narcissism[edit]

According to Alan Downs, corporate narcissism occurs when a narcissist becomes the chief executive officer (CEO) (or another leadership role) within the senior management team and gathers an adequate mix of codependents around him or her to support the narcissistic behavior. Narcissists profess company loyalty but are only really committed to their own agendas; thus, organizational decisions are founded on the narcissist's own interests rather than the interests of the organization as a whole, the various stakeholders, or the society in which the organization operates.[22] As a result, a certain kind of charismatic leader can run a financially successful company on thoroughly unhealthy principles (at least for a time).[23]

Neville Symington has suggested that one of the ways of differentiating a good-enough organisation from one that is pathological is through its ability to exclude narcissistic characters from key posts.[24]

Narcissistic supply[edit]

The narcissistic manager will have two main sources of narcissistic supply: inanimate (status symbols like cars, gadgets or office views); and animate (flattery and attention from colleagues and subordinates).[25] Teammates may find everyday offers of support swiftly turn them into enabling sources of permanent supply, unless they are very careful to maintain proper boundaries.[26] The narcissistic manager's need to protect such supply networks will prevent objective decision-making.[27] Such a manager will evaluate long-term strategies according to their potential for gaining personal attention instead of to benefit the organization.[28]

Productive narcissists[edit]

Crompton has distinguished what he calls productive narcissists from unproductive narcissists.[29] Maccoby acknowledged that productive narcissists still tend to be over-sensitive to criticism, over-competitive, isolated, and grandiose, but considered that what draws them out is that they have a sense of freedom to do whatever they want rather than feeling constantly constrained by circumstances, and that through their charisma they are able to draw people into their vision, and produce a cohort of disciples who will pursue the dream for all it's worth.[30][31] Studies show that narcissists tend to be more proactive in their work in an attempt to achieve a higher, more prestigious status.[32]

Others have questioned the concept, considering that the dramatic collapse of Wall Street and the financial system in 2009 must give us pause. Is the collapse due to business leaders who have developed narcissistic styles—even if ostensibly productive?[33] Certainly one may conclude that at best there can be quite a fine line between narcissists who perform badly in the workplace because of their traits, and those who achieve outrageous success because of them.[34]

See also[edit]

  • iconOrganized labour portal
  • Psychology portal
  • References[edit]

    1. ^ Grijalva, Emily; Harms, P. D. (2014). "Narcissism: An Integrative Synthesis and Dominance Complementarity Model". Academy of Management Perspectives. Academy of Management. 28 (2): 108–127. doi:10.5465/amp.2012.0048. ISSN 1558-9080. Archived from the original on 2023-10-16. Retrieved 2023-11-07.
    2. ^ Brunell et al., 2008 A.B. Brunell, W.A. Gentry, W.K. Campbell, B.J. Hoffman, K.W. Kuhnert, K.G. Demarree. Leader emergence: The case of the narcissistic leader. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34 (2008), pp. 1663–1676.
    3. ^ Schnure, K. (2010). Narcissism 101. Industrial Engineer, 42(8), 34-39.
    4. ^ Paulhus, D. L. (1998). Interpersonal and intrapsychic adaptiveness of trait self-enhancement: A mixed blessing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1197-1208.
    5. ^ a b Judge, Timothy A.; LePine, Jeffery A.; Rich, Bruce L. (2006). "Loving yourself abundantly: Relationship of the narcissistic personality to self- and other perceptions of workplace deviance, leadership, and task and contextual performance". Journal of Applied Psychology. 91 (4): 762–776. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.91.4.762. ISSN 1939-1854. PMID 16834504.
    6. ^ Highhouse, Scott; Brooks, Margaret E.; Wang, Yi (2016-11-14). "Status Seeking and Manipulative Self-presentation". International Journal of Selection and Assessment. 24 (4): 352–361. doi:10.1111/ijsa.12153. ISSN 0965-075X. S2CID 151773196.
    7. ^ Back, M.D., Schmukle, S.C., & Egloff, B. (2010). Why are narcissists so charming at first sight? Decoding the narcissism-popularity link at zero acquaintance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 132-145.
    8. ^ Berscheid, E., & Reis, H. T. (1998). Attraction and close relationships.
    9. ^ Campbell, W. K., Hoffman, B. J., Campbell, S. M., & Marchisio, G. (2011). Narcissism in organizational contexts. Human Resource Management Review, 21(4), 268-284.
    10. ^ Michel, Jesse S.; Bowling, Nathan A. (2012-05-24). "Does Dispositional Aggression Feed the Narcissistic Response? The Role of Narcissism and Aggression in the Prediction of Job Attitudes and Counterproductive Work Behaviors". Journal of Business and Psychology. 28 (1): 93–105. doi:10.1007/s10869-012-9265-6. ISSN 0889-3268. S2CID 145362719.
    11. ^ Penney, L. M., & Spector, P. E. (2002, June). Narcissism and Counterproductive WorkBehavior: Do Bigger Egos Mean Bigger Problems? Retrieved February 24, 2018, from
    12. ^ Colligan, T. W., & Higgins, E. M. (2006). Workplace Stress. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 21(2), 89-97. doi:10.1300/j490v21n02_07
    13. ^ Thomas, David (2010). Narcissism: Behind the Mask. Sussex: Book Guild Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84624-506-0.
    14. ^ Nevicka, Barbara; Van Vianen, Annelies E. M.; De Hoogh, Annebel H. B.; Voorn, Bart C. M. (July 2018). "Narcissistic leaders: An asset or a liability? Leader visibility, follower responses, and group-level absenteeism". Journal of Applied Psychology. 103 (7): 703–723. doi:10.1037/apl0000298. ISSN 1939-1854. PMID 29553765. S2CID 4043342.
    15. ^ a b Kjærvik, Sophie L.; Bushman, Brad J. (2021). "The link between narcissism and aggression: A meta-analytic review". Psychological Bulletin. 147 (5): 477–503. doi:10.1037/bul0000323. ISSN 1939-1455. PMID 34292012. S2CID 236173877.
    16. ^ Catherine Mattice, MA & Brian Spitzberg, PhD Bullies in Business: Self-Reports of Tactics and Motives Archived 2012-04-25 at the Wayback Machine San Diego State University, 2007
    17. ^ "10 Signs Your Co-Worker / Colleague is a Narcissist". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2018-02-25.
    18. ^ Tokarev, Alexander; Phillips, Abigail R.; Hughes, David J.; Irwing, Paul (October 2017). "Leader dark traits, workplace bullying, and employee depression: Exploring mediation and the role of the dark core". Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 126 (7): 911–920. doi:10.1037/abn0000299. ISSN 1939-1846. PMID 29106276. S2CID 46846061.
    19. ^ Braun, Susanne (2017). "Leader Narcissism and Outcomes in Organizations: A Review at Multiple Levels of Analysis and Implications for Future Research". Frontiers in Psychology. 8: 773. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00773. ISSN 1664-1078. PMC 5437163. PMID 28579967.
    20. ^ Zitek, Emily; Jordan, Alex (2016-07-27). "Research: Narcissists Don't Like Flat Organizations". Harvard Business Review. Archived from the original on 2023-08-15. Retrieved 2023-11-07.
    21. ^ "Narcissism at Work: The Arrogant Executive". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2018-02-22.
    22. ^ Downs, Alan (1997). Beyond the Looking Glass: Overcoming the Seductive Culture of Corporate Narcissism (1st ed.). New York: AMACOM. ISBN 0-8144-0343-3. OL 1011860M.
    23. ^ Skynner, Robin; Cleese, John (1993). Life and how to survive it. London: Methuen Publishing. p. 101. ISBN 0-413-68040-1. OL 8462763W. Retrieved 2023-11-07.
    24. ^ Neville Symington, Narcissism: A New Theory (London 2004) p. 10
    25. ^ A. J. DuBrin, Narcissism in the Workplace (2012) p. 143
    26. ^ A. J. DuBrin, Narcissism in the Workplace (2012) p. 143 and p. 181
    27. ^ S. Allcorn, Organizational Dynamics and Intervention (2005) p. 105
    28. ^ A. J. DuBrin, Narcissism in the Workplace (2012) p. 122
    29. ^ Simon Crompton, All about me (London 2007) pp. 157–58
    30. ^ Maccoby M The Productive Narcissist (2003)
    31. ^ Crompton, p. 158
    32. ^ Sanecka, Elżbieta (2021-01-01). "Grandiose and vulnerable narcissism and regulatory focus at work in relation to strengths use and deficit correction in the workplace". PLOS ONE. 16 (10): e0258609. Bibcode:2021PLoSO..1658609S. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0258609. ISSN 1932-6203. PMC 8535390. PMID 34679100.
    33. ^ Jay R. Slosar, The Culture of Excess (2009) p. 7
    34. ^ Crompton, p. 159

    Further reading[edit]

    • Gerald Falkowski, Jean Ritala Narcissism in the Workplace (2007)
    • Samuel Grier Narcissism in the Workplace: What It Is - How To Spot It - What To Do About It (2011)
    • Belinda McDaniel The Narcissists in Your Life: Coping with and Surviving Narcissists in the Workplace, at Home and Wherever You Are Forced to Associate with People Suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (2014)
    • Sam Vaknin, Lidija Rangelovska The Narcissist and the Psychopath in the Workplace (2006)

    External links[edit]