Narcissists have won wars, built great empires and whipped troubled companies into shape. Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs and Jack Welch are but a few.
"They have compelling, even gripping visions, and they have an ability to attract followers," writes leadership consultant and author Michael Maccoby.
But before you get all puffed up about being in such august company, consider this: Even the most productive narcissistic leaders can self-destruct and take their companies with them. Narcissists can be demanding, competitive, thin-skinned, exploitive, manipulative, arrogant and suspicious.
Nevertheless, Mr. Maccoby views narcissism as being largely beneficial, if not inevitable, in entrepreneurs and chief executives – beneficial because narcissists are innovators, inevitable because narcissists, being ambitious, are the most likely to rise to the top.
Indeed, when it comes to customer service, narcissism is not necessarily a bad thing in a chief executive, says Mark Healy, partner in Satov Consultants, a management consulting firm specializing in customer strategy.
Jack Welch, former chief executive of General Electric, was obsessive about quality, Mr. Healy notes. "Every employee in the organization understood who his customer base was." As a result, GE products ranked first or second in their category, fulfilling the chief executive's goal.
Have you seen narcissm at the top result in great customer care?
Does knowing a CEO is a narcissist affect your view of his or her company?
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Taking questions were:
Dr. Mark Federman has more than twenty-five years' experience in the high-technology industry as executive, manager and consultant, spanning disciplines including research and development, marketing, sales, operations and strategic leadership. His research in Valence Theory of Organization focuses organization change, development, and behaviour. Mark also provides executive guidance for mindful leadership and facilitates process of organizational therapy and healing.
Eric Cousineau, Managing Director, OCG Strategy and Organization Consulting, draws on more than 30 years experience in assisting clients in articulating and implementing their strategy. His particular area of focus has been on providing cost-effective solutions to issues in organizational effectiveness including dealing with the human resources aspects such as compensation and performance measurement. Eric began his career advising clients on the east coast working with a variety of food service and fish processing organizations.
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