The slippery slope to narcissism. How can you tell if you’re on it?

Posted May 18, 2010 in Latest News & Insights

What is a narcissist you ask?  From Answers.com: An individual with narcissistic personality disorder tends to harbor an exaggerated sense of his own self-importance and uniqueness. He is often excessively occupied with fantasies about his own attributes and potential for success, and usually depends upon others for reinforcement of his self-image. A narcissist tends to have difficulties maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships, stemming largely from a lack of empathy and a propensity for taking advantage of others in the interest of self-aggrandizement.

 Sound like anybody you work with???

A few weeks ago, I read an interview with Dr. Barbara Killinger who has authored the book “Integrity: Doing the Right Thing for the Right Reason.”  In the interview, she was discussing her impressions of what led to some of the corporate meltdowns of late.

One of the key concepts she highlights is the loss of integrity that comes when people move from “feeling-being” to “doing-performing”. The more a person focuses on “doing-performing” in the pursuit of control and power, the less they consider the impact of their actions on others and the more they become obsessed with their goals.

 Obsession leads to narcissism and that, as quoted from the Globe & Mail article “is the real evil.  Narcissists believe they’re right.  Succeeding, greed and doing well is all-important.  The workaholic organization, usually run by a workaholic, develops the same values as the breakdown [loss of integrity] occurs.  If you’ve got a hard-core workaholic running [the company], there’s no guilt for poor behaviour eventually.”

So, in an era where we are all about “pay for performance” and “driving results”, it made me wonder… are we unintentionally breeding a generation of narcissists?!?  And, as an individual, what are the warning signs that you need to watch for to make sure you don’t become a narcissist?

Just as no one sets out to become a drug addict, I doubt many normal people set out to become a narcissistic leader.  So, in the spirit of creating better leaders, what are your thoughts on the red flags that any leader should pay attention to in order to ensure they’re not crossing the line between driving performance and channeling their inner narcissist?

Together we can stop the madness!

Happy leading!


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  1. […] 1, 2010 · Leave a Comment In a previous post, we discussed the slippery slope to narcissism.  We mused “in our current culture of performance […]