Awareness of narcissism in the workplace is on the rise nowadays as increasing number of people have begin to recognize the arrogant and bullying behaviour of the narcissist for what it is. Researchers define narcissism as a “grandiose sense of self-importance” combined with a lack of empathy for other people- characteristics that can fuel negativity on the job.
In any organization we will come face to face with co-workers and even people in leadership roles who have different personalities and ways of going about accomplishing given tasks. Differing opinions and personalities are also one of the reasons as to why interpersonal conflicts arise in the workplace. Every employee has their own opinion, their style of doing things and personalities that they bring to the workplace. But when does the management have to become concerned and take action?
Awareness of narcissism in the workplace is on the rise nowadays as increasing number of people have begin to recognize the arrogant and bullying behaviour of the narcissist for what it is. Researchers define narcissism as a “grandiose sense of self-importance” combined with a lack of empathy for other people- characteristics that can fuel negativity on the job. It is important for employees and leaders alike to understand the red flags of narcistic employee or leader
Unwilling to be challenged or questioned
Requiring excessive levels of loyalty, praise and adoration
Struggling to accept and incorporate feedback
Not considerate of other people’s opinions or not involving them in conversations about problem solving or changes
Often making decisions unilaterally and without involving other stakeholders
Demanding and seeking high degrees of personal and positional power to ensure control
Using fear, guilt, shame, punishment and manipulation to gain compliance and control
Exhibiting extremely competitive behaviour
Taking personal credit for the work of individuals or the team
Boss or Colleague?
We need to consider narcissism in the workplace where the narcissist is the boss and where he or she is a colleague. There are important differences in the 2 situations.
A narcissistic boss can be successful and goal oriented with a history of being ‘ruthless.’
Narcissists consider themselves superior, want their wishes attended to immediately and do not tolerate criticism. Therefore, narcissistic bosses typically surround themselves with people who will treat them in the way they want. Often, the boss actually controls and manipulates these people into treating him this way.
Narcissism in the Workplace- Colleagues
The narcissist employee will build relationships with co-workers with whom they find use and bully and manipulate those who are a threat to them. These co-workers will be useful because they have information, influence or can get things done. The narcissist makes friends with these co-workers, especially the boss.
Other signals of narcissism in the workplace are when this employee spends more time building on relationships in the company rather than completing their work. They also tend to take credit for work that they have not done or the narcissist has manipulated his co-workers into doing his work by using various mind control techniques.
It is important for organisations to see the signs of employees, whether new or existing ones, for narcissistic traits. Having a narcissistic colleague or manager can have detrimental effects on not only employees but also change the whole environment of the organisation making it very dysfunctional. Employees can start having low self-esteem and lose motivation while working in the organisation. Organisations should take these personality characteristics of employees seriously and watch out for the signs to make sure their organisation and employees thrive!