Narcissistic Leadership: The Cult Leadership That Never Ends Well

If you’re someone who didn’t realize that you’ve been practising narcissistic leadership on others all this while, then now is always a good time to change, especially if it involves the mental and emotional well-being of others as well.

Narcissistic leaders are self-absorbed, and hold beliefs of entitlement & superiority even while seemingly “humble” in appearance. However, their dead giveaway is that they easily get emotional and become rather aggressive in the face of criticism or conflicting opinions, regardless if it’s constructive. They’re inclined to validate their self-worth further by derogating others; lying, manipulating, gaslighting, and becoming abusive.

If you’re a narcissist, and you’re happy with it, then this advice is going to be meaningless and useless to you. But if you’re someone who didn’t realize that you’ve been practising narcissistic leadership on others all this while, then now is always a good time to change, especially if it involves the mental and emotional well-being of others as well.

Listening: First competence of leadership

First and foremost, you will need to understand that leadership is also about being open to criticism, not just giving it. You’ll grow to become a better leader when you’re ready to become a better listener, even if opinions from others conflict with yours. If you digest opinions carefully, you may find some gold nuggets in them to benefit you instead of just “blowing it all up” by immediately reacting to them.

Learning to make it safe for people to tell you the truth

Feedback and suggestions from others, including from your own team members either in a group or from an individual may not always be in the context of what you like to hear, but they can be constructive coming from people who care for what is right and for what is just. If this makes you feel inadequate or less wise as a person simply because it came from your subordinates instead of your bosses, then you have a problem.

Organizational psychologist Adam Grant says, “Leaders who fail to listen ultimately find themselves surrounded by silence. You don’t get chosen to take charge unless you give good answers. You won’t be able to make changes unless you ask good questions. Learning depends on making it safe for people to tell you the truth”.

6 Questions to Create Psychological Safety with Your Team Members by Jean Marie DiGiovanna, Renaissance Leadership Program Developer

Cult leadership never ends well

So do give room for your staff to voice out their concerns. Respect and value your team for sharing their ideas and advice. Always make time to resolve conflicts and practice utmost patience to clarify doubts. It’s part of the discipline in being an effective leader. Don’t intimidate and abuse your authoritative power to silence any of your team members while only welcoming praise and worship to feel glorified and victorious. Cult leadership never ends well.

Freedom of speech applies to everyone, so work things out with your team amicably instead of silencing them or pressuring an individual to leave the organization because they questioned your actions. You may be tempted to even cover up such matters by making up an emotional drama with petty excuses to deviate from addressing actual problems and to portray yourself as an innocent victim, but you can’t fool everyone (including your bosses) forever. And that is certainly not a trait of a good, level-headed and grounded leader.

Thinking Styles and their Consequences

If you really think hard about it, as cunning as you may think you are, it’s really not worth it. You will eventually be exposed for who you really are. Worst still, lose your job and end up in jail. And you certainly don’t want to get abducted, tortured and murdered by some revengeful current or former staff.

Just like Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion in the world of physics states, “For every action, there is an equal (in size) and opposite (in direction) reaction” — so does your thinking style that governs your action which you give out, and the reaction you get back in return. Therefore, it is crucial that you take Adam Grant’s advice: “One of the clearest signs of learning is rethinking your assumptions and revising your opinions”.

Hierarchy of Thinking Styles by Adam Grant, Organizational Psychologist

And last but not least, the advice from the two videos below will certainly do you good if you can accept them and make this positive change in your life. I wish you all the best.

3 personality mistakes you must avoid:

5 signs someone is a narcissist you must not ignore:

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