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The rise of narcissistic leaders at workplaces

In Pakistani working culture, there is a natural tendency to select narcissistic leaders and managers which is on the rise.

The usual preference for dictatorial and tyrannical types of personalities are common in our nation which also reflect in our organizations, companies and work-groups.

Narcissistic individuals are also greedy for leadership roles as part of their personalities—their thirst for extra respect and extra attention; their belief in their own ideas only; their lust of winning contests; their potential to charm and persuade people; and their capability to focus narrowly on a goal (getting chosen as the leader) for which they can go to any limit, either good or bad.

There is list of negative qualities attached to such people, including a grandiose sense of self-importance, preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success and power, belief that he or she is uniquely special, requires excessive admiration, has a sense of entitlement, exploits relationships, lacks empathy, and is envious and arrogant.

Since they could be categorized as “distressed or impaired” by definition of their bad qualities, it would be obvious that they are not good candidates as leaders in an organization.

Their lack of self-awareness and self-reflection is another major problem.

They can’t see their part in the problem.

They are defensive rather than insightful. They also have lack of adaptation or change.

Even though their behavior is dysfunctional, they don’t change it—because they don’t think they have a problem.

They believe the cause of all of their problems is outside of themselves: Since they don’t see their part and they don’t change, they either feel helpless or aggressively try to change other people to help themselves feel better.

They always have a target to blame and they are high-conflict people—individuals who generate increasing conflicts as they attack or attempt to eliminate their targets.Their targets are usually the weak ones or the one who falls under their authority – their subordinates.

Such people are always preoccupied with being right even when they are wrong and with criticizing other people’s behavior even when they have no moral authority for it, then how will and can they become good leaders in organizations?

In today’s world of rapid change and innovation, leaders should be flexible and fast learners. But this does not apply on narcissist leaders and managers who find them living in an imaginary world where they are the most perfect beings and all other beside them as imperfect.

They in the workplace presumes themselves as great leaders and that they are more likely than other employees to be chosen as leaders by their higher management.

But their peers and subordinates are able to see the negative qualities in them, through experience of which they become prey and don’t view them as leaders as contrast to the management who find them charming for leadership position as what upper management really want is dictator and tyrant not a leader.

Studies have shown that narcissistic managers are generally rated as average for problem-solving skills but below average for “leadership skills, interpersonal skills and integrity.

Even when they aren’t the leaders, take credit for the work of others, tend to do less work than others, and blame their co-workers for problems even when they are friends in workplace, they are great portrait of what people say for ‘look busy do nothing’ type of persons.

Even so, they impress those above them in the organization. In effect, narcissists are good at “kissing up” and “kicking down.”

Narcissists may be good at rising to power within an organization, but their success doesn’t last long. They are overconfident and not good team players.

They sell others on an inflated image of what they can do, but they can’t fulfill it. They may create a great start—and then crash it in the end!

Such type of kissing up and kicking down culture and preference for narcissist and dictator as leaders in our society is particularly due to neglecting special status of a persons as an human being.

We should recognise each person demands our respect and that we must never treat them merely as objects.

We must not treat other persons just as a means to our own ends. We can ask a subordinate staff to work and provide labor or service, but even though I use him as a worker or labor or employee, I must also respect him as a person.

It is not the term ‘person’ as such that is important, it is the fact that we can make social distinction between different persons that is important.

If we place our superior and senior on one side of a social divide raising their status as master of our faiths and placing our subordinates on other side of social divide treating them as slaves, than that has implications for how we perceive the world and how we respond to others in it whose final product will always be negative for the employees as well as employer.

The term person is commonly used to refer to those beings that fall on superior side of the moral divide, therefore, we consider our senior and superior as ‘person’ to whom we should respond with absolute submission and the ‘nonpersons’ working below us as completely different species which need to be conquered and should be subjugated completely to our power and authority.

Such type of kiss up and kick down culture is considered important part of survival instinct in our workplace and narcissist trait are considered to be the key for success in such environment.

Therefore, our workplace have become like jungle where superiors are predators and subordinates are prey.

All in all, such culture brings all type of negative social, ethical and moral aspect with itself.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of the author and do not represent ARY policies or opinion.