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Narcissistic Leadership

Key Idea

Narcissistic leaders are individuals who lead to ultimately boost their egos and their sense of grandiosity. These individuals appear can appear very inspirational at times, but once you get past the façade, a “darker” side of leadership emerges. Narcissistic leaders are usually emotionally isolated, highly distrustful, and can become enraged when they feel threatened.   

Book to Read

 Narcissistic Leaders: Who Succeeds and Who Fails by Michael Maccoby (2007)

Quick take from the book

  Maccoby outlines the pros and cons of Narcissistic Leaders:


  1. Great Vision: These leaders are not good at the details, but can see the big picture.
  2. Skilled Orators: These individuals will be very eloquent.
  3. Scores of Followers: Their charismatic personality will attract many followers.


  1. Narcissists are not comfortable with their own emotions.
  2. Sensitive to Criticism: May rage or anger easily when they feel threatened.
  3. Poor Listeners: Often focus on themselves and not others.
  4. Lack of Empathy: Their focus is on themselves, not others.
  5. Distaste for Mentoring: Mentoring requires an investment to help others.
  6. Intense Desire to Compete: Need validation by constantly proving they are “the best.”

Quote of note

 “Many leaders dominating business today have what psychoanalysts call a narcissistic personality. That’s good news for companies that need passion and daring to break new ground. But even productive narcissists can be dangerous for organizations.”-Narcissistic Leaders

Related Styles: Bad Leadership, Dark Side Leadership

Return to List of Leadership Styles