Narcissists make the best leaders

Our editor… oh, our editor. Brilliant, knowledgeable… Not, repeat not, a narcissist at all.

But apparently that’s our loss. Because research from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) indicates that narcissists make much better leaders.

Narcissists are arrogant, have grandiose visions about their own importance and believe they are special. Not, as lead author Kathy Schnure points out, qualities that anyone to the left of Adolf Hitler would consider to be terribly desirable in a leader.

But Schnure compared ratings of leadership potential for those who have high levels of narcissism to those with a touch more modesty.
She found the narcissists scored much more highly.

All the same, insists Schnure, you absolutely shouldn’t hire them.

“They make good figureheads, in part because of their ability to articulate goals and attract people to their way of thinking,” she says.

“But in terms of day-to-day leadership, they can be toxic with subordinates. That becomes especially apparent after their employees get to know the way the narcissistic leader operates. The favourable first impressions they make are not sustainable over a period of time.”

We have a sneaking suspicion, though, that Schnure has a bit of an axe to grind, and is maybe giving narcissists an undeserved bad press. (That’s what the ed says anyway, and we certainly won’t argue.)

You see, Schnure confesses that the whole research project grows out of a bad experience of her own.  

“I once completed a project in which I did 90 percent of the work and sat in on a meeting in which my boss gave a report and took complete credit,” she says.

“I was stunned that she did not at least acknowledge that I had a hand in developing the report.”