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“The Narcissistic Leader”, the author gives emphasis to the way of thinking of a narcissist, as an individual and in an organization, also stating the drawbacks of their behavior but closing with a positive touch to the narcissist. The author commences by giving an example of a narcissist, the manager that models his company as his image, and then states that Freud was the first to identify it but that it was Christopher Lash who detailed the social impact of narcissism in his book, “The Culture of Narcissism”.
It was only in 1980 that narcissism was officially classified as a disease in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”, as of then, several individuals have written books regarding the applications of the subject. The author asserts that a narcissist suffers from lack of self-confidence due to past experiences, which can develop into feelings of self-obsession and emphasizes that this behavior can easily be transformed into a state of overconfidence and disrespect for others.
He supports this assertion with three basic rules: “They must be something more than they are; Their value as people is dependent upon the image they project; Other people are objects who must be manipulated to get the validation that narcissists need”. To the author then introduces Downs(1997) argument that a narcissist is a real threat to an organization, with only an obsession with personal gain, there is no space for solidarity and he does not follow any ethical conventions and is merely put off by legal policies. This is then demonstrated with the Al Dunlap case example.
Further on, the author argues that the successfulness of one or two narcissistic managers may extend this behavior to other managers, and non-managers, who will be compelled to follow the same set of rules. The answer would be to be familiar with this behavior so that it can be dealt with appropriately. The narcissist features and impacts in an organization, as an individual, and as a group, were specified by Browns(1997) as the following: Denial, Rationalization, Self-aggrandizement, Attributional egotism, Sense of entitlement and Anxiety.
The author mentions that Downs reveals the difficulty in changing a narcissistic, since this behavior will amplify over time and that only with their commitment to change can this be achieved. Given the surroundings of our political and social structures, this change may not be possible, so you should begin dealing with a narcissistic, knowing in advance what you need from him. When this is the case you should be aware of, and if possible avoid, three common difficulties: Competition, conflict and incompatibility.
Even though a narcissist may have several negative aspects, it should not be looked as a flaw as a whole. Many Transformational and Charismatic leaders, for example Steve Jobs, possess some of these qualities. If taken in the correct direction there can be positive outcomes as it provides many times as a motivation to achieving higher ambitions.