How to Manage a Narcissist
George, a senior executive of a large internet provider, was a participant in one of my leadership development programs. Although a very talented individual, he was seen as a nuisance within the group. He tended to monopolize the conversation, whatever the topic. All agreed that he was not a good listener. Whenever someone else spoke, he would quickly become impatient and try to change the topic to something closer to his interests. And he had a habit of devaluing others’ work while overemphasizing his own successes. It was quite clear to the other participants that George viewed most people as far below his standards. It wasn’t surprising that most of group did not like George and found it very difficult to deal with him.
Often, it seems that having a narcissistic disposition — grandiose, self-promoting, larger than life — is a prerequisite for reaching the higher organizational echelons. Narcissistic people can be charismatic and manipulative, which helps them get ahead. But although their drive and ambitions can be effective in moving organizations forward, excessive narcissistic behavior can create havoc and lead to organizational breakdown. Envious as they are, narcissistic people always strive to win, whatever the costs. They see themselves as “special,” and only associate with other “special” or high-status people.