In my opinion highly successful project leaders do lean a little toward the narcissistic side and perhaps also have extreme high self-esteem—you can have both. The only downside I can see to a narcissistic project leader is the lack of empathy for others on the team. They probably aren’t good at coaching the introverts or bringing a highly skilled team member out of their shell.
What they can do, however, is get things done. I know the Brunell study shows many politicians are narcissistic but I hate comparing project leaders to politicians in any way. You can’t really because project leaders and politicians do very different things—politicians campaign and promise while project leaders actually deliver on a goal.
To lead properly and effectively, if you take the narcissistic test and find you really love yourself above all—you do have some changing to do. Is it possible to change your views, how you think about assigning tasks, teams and setting goals? It is if you want to involve not just your team, but also yourself in brainstorming sessions, focus groups and status meetings instead of waiting for results you probably will disagree with anyway.
Leaders do emerge based on the characteristics they possess. If you’ve ever worked on a project team, you most likely worked for a narcissistic leader and hated that leader or at least didn’t have much respect for the person.
Still, on the other side of this narcissistic coin, can a team wander around aimlessly waiting for guidance? It’s sort of a catch 22 situation to me. You must be strong to lead but you also must take the feelings and opinions of others into consideration. If you’re way narcissistic, you may need to do some adjusting.
Could my friend Shaw run a team? Nope. He’d be too busy looking in the mirror telling himself how wonderful he is—but that is an extreme. How strong do you lead? Is it via high self-esteem and knowing you can get the job done or is it all you and only you? Think of some of your mentors. Were they caring or did you adapt their strong style because you find you are both really alike in a narcissistic way?
Finally, whether you’re a team leader or a team member, how do you feel about the importance or non-importance of narcissism in leadership? I’d love to hear comments from every side, although Shaw can skip the comments area below. Sorry dude, but in reality, there's really no way for you to offer up your photo here in the comments section anyway.