November 14, 2012

Word: Petraeus and narcissism

Jeffrey Pfeffer, Harvard Business Review Evidence from surveys of college students shows that the level of narcissism has been rising over time — a possible answer for why leaders today are getting into more trouble than in the past. And examinations of the structure of narcissism and how narcissistic behavior differs between men and women helps explain the gender imbalance: "Past research suggests that exploitive tendencies and open displays of feelings of entitlement will be less integral to narcissism for females than for males" simply because women face more social constraints and social sanctions for grandiosity and self-aggrandizement than do men.

And while narcissism and the associated behaviors may indeed help people ascend into leadership roles, as recent experience suggests, narcissistic individuals also contain the seeds of their own (self)-destruction. And leaders' downfalls are costly — Lockheed now has to find another person to assume the CEO role, and President Obama must find someone to take over the CIA. So while indeed there are productive narcissists, narcissistic behavior can be very unproductive for both the work organizations and the people who experience it.

3 comments:

Uncle Goat said...

Really? We have to elevate this to uncontrollable narcissism instead of just observing this as the actions of an asshole? Being an asshole can also allow someone to become a boss.
Is finding some other asshole to take over the CIA something especially hard? George H.W. Bush was head of the CIA for awhile, he was also an asshole. Finding assholes in DC seems like an easy thing to do. Anus by any other name would smell as foul.

Capt. America said...

Petraeus was never a field officer. He was a CEO. His job was not to win wars, it was to manage the defeats. He could paint a horse turd gold, put a feather in it, and get his bosses in Washington to eat it. That's what you get when you have too damn many officers.

Thank God for Schwarzkopf. If MacArthur had been in charge he'd have got us into a war with Iran, Syria, Turkey...

Just to point out again that the problem is not new, but it is worse than ever.

Anonymous said...

http://dissidentvoice.org/2012/11/you-couldnt-make-this-stuff-up/