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Narcissistic Leaders

We’re gonna talk about Narcissistic leaders. I’m aware that this may be a contentious topic, and of it’s importance.

That’s why I chose it, to add some scholarship to all the rhetoric. To offer some insights from actual research on narcissists from the field of psychology and research findings from the study of leadership on narcissistic individuals who occupy leader roles.

Like all Leader Wisdom on Free verse Fridays, this topic is apolitical, and useful when applied. Like all Leader Wisdom Free verse Fridays, this poem is grounded invalidated science…and things I’ve learned through years of developing leaders from the lowest to the highest ranks of organizations.

So without any further procrastination,
Let’s get on with our presentation

This Leader Wisdom is titled “Narcissistic Leaders…what you see and hear is not what you get”

About themselves a pretty picture the narcissistic leader will paint
Wanting everyone to believe something that ain’t
and problematically
Narcissists want everyone to believe
That everything they conceive
About themselves is true
Creating a false picture for you
To follow
Convinced that everyone will swallow
Fabrications and machinations about their leadership greatness
But inside they’re a hot mess
So let’s examine
Why its so easy for narcissist win
Promotions, elections

Narcissism is a personality disorder
Wherein the person too easily crosses the border
From realistic self-evaluation
To inflated self-appraisal without justification
Telling themselves, and everyone
That they’re number 1
How great a leader they are
And how their own-self has gotten them this far
Skipping the part…
about those whose generosity
Has been forgotten in the narcissists “pervasive pattern of grandiosity” (American Psychiatric Association, 2000, p. 717)

Narcissists seek leadership for personal glory
Spouting off their success story
Never mentioning failures or accepting blame
“It’s not my fault”, look over there to cast shame
Exaggerating their leader ability
Putting themselves in leadership positions for all to see
Confidence, charisma, and charm
Screaming “Look at me, I’m great. I can do no harm!”
Followers want to believe that such a person exists
Narcissists self-promotion persists
Until followers are convinced the leader is up to the task
Never stopping to ask…

Why do you, narcissist, want so badly to be in a position of leadership
Leading, after all, is not about you, it’s about the relationship
That the leaders build with everyone whose lives they touch
And leaders must actually care…indeed they must care very much
When you fail, narcissist, or get it wrong
Will you change your song
Be willing to accept critical feedback
That hurts  like the crack
Of a paddle directly to your ego
Can you show
Humility…and let followers see
They matter, and that you understand leader is required
To work on behalf of followers far beyond when the leader is tired
In seeking to win our affection
Narcissists do not paint an accurate reflection
Of their true motivation….
Which is holding power and self-gratification
At first, narcissist will burst
With conceit and bluster
But when it comes times to lead, they cannot muster
The skills and competency
To successfully
Achieve their vision and mission
And follower are left wishin
They had not believed the hype
By then its too late to swipe
Away the regrets
That only gets
us upset

Narcissist, your entitlement, your need for aggression, and to dominate
All combine to make a destructive leadership trait
Yet, for all their vanity
Narcissists actually
Believe what they say
Even though they
May not have the skills and knowledge to get the job done
And often count the battles they have won
Expect us to follow blindly
Narcissists make us see
The possibility
Of a future beyond what most people can imagine
Embolden us to think we can
Do amazing things far greater than our blinders allow
That somehow
Monumental achievements
Are attainable for everyone from rich to low rents

For all their bravado and self-aggrandizement
Narcissists are insecure, and lament
Themselves… for all they cannot be

When faced with a narcissistic leader, here’s what to do
Focus not on them, as followers its up to you
Not to belittle, berate
Not tolerate hate
Rather to create and to rejuvenate
The world and all its inhabitants
From mansions to sheets formed into tents
Rally around the common good, our mutual cause for humanity
Be above the insanity
Strive for what is right
Be the shinning light
That acts with kindness, a focus on collaboration
Give respect and credit without hesitation
Although it may feel like a violation
Of all that you stand for
Be more
Be humble
And then, if you stumble
You’ll recognize failures as tools to learn
And earn
The respect of those who matter most
And you’ll do that without having to boast

That’s BKD’s rap
We hope that we tap
Into something that will inspire
And lift you higher
So that you go do something amazing today
And every day.


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