Narcissism. Leadership. Manipulation.

Current events caused me to think about leadership.

by Eric Holdeman / February 5, 2020

I've written about the role of manipulation and leadership in the past. This is "my thinking" so I'm not quoting anyone. I have thought about what the difference is between being a leader in the truest sense and then at the same time manipulating people.

I believe it is intent. Good leaders manipulate people to convince them to do things that perhaps they would have otherwise not attempted. Leaders can encourage, coach, cajole, threaten and use other means to motivate people to do what needs to be done. 

Here is a definition of a manipulative person. "A manipulative person knows how to twist words, play on emotions and otherwise manage a situation in a sneaky fashion to get what he wants." I don't like the word "sneaky" in the definition, but it is there. 

What separates the good leader from the otherwise nefarious person who is also a leader is "intent." For what reason are you leading/manipulating your subordinates? Is it for yourself and yourself only, or is it for the good of the organization and the mission of that organization. 

Which brings me to the leader who is a narcissist. They are incapable of thinking about anything or anyone else — except the exalted me, my, I. Every decision that needs to be made will be based on their own personal thinking about what is good for them, not what is good for the organization or the mission of the organization. They are incapable of such thinking. 

Here is a list of traits you will find in a narcissist. Don't hire them, promote them or work for them. Once you figure out what makes them tick, give them the heave-ho out of the organization. Do you know anyone who fits the description below?

Symptoms of a Narcissist:

Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary. People with the disorder can:

  • Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
  • Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerate achievements and talents
  • Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
  • Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
  • Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
  • Take advantage of others to get what they want
  • Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Be envious of others and believe others envy them
  • Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
  • Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office

At the same time, people with narcissistic personality disorder have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:

  • Become impatient or angry when they don't receive special treatment
  • Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted
  • React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
  • Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
  • Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change
  • Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection
  • Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation

The above comes from the Mayo Clinic

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