Narcissism both in negative and positive ways;

            Narcissism is a broad concept that
identified either as a personality trait or a personality disorder. In the
organizational, institutional, political and military context, it is mostly
studied as a personality trait. Narcissism is a wide personality context and
people with narcissism tend to have exaggerative feelings of self-importance,
high need for limitless power, success, appreciation and absence of empathy
(Blair, Hoffman & Helland, 2008); also, they respond with anger and
aggression to the negative feedback and have over-confidence about their
abilities (Higgs, 2009). According to Barry et al. narcissism is seeing oneself
grandiose in comparison to others, also in the sight of others (2007).

To
measure narcissistic personality, Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) which
is developed by Raskin and Hall, is used and there are several versions of this
scale (1981). The Narcissistic
Personality Inventory which have 40 items closed-ended questions is most commonly used by researchers (Twenge
at al., 2008).  Moreover, it has the highest internal
reliability than others with 0.83 alpha coefficient (Rosario &
White, 2005).

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             Narcissism is mostly encountered in the
organizations as a common situation among normal population rather than a
disorder (Gardner & Pierce, 2011). Narcissistic traits, such as high need
for power, success, appreciation and feeling of grandiosity motive people to look
for powerful positions so individuals with narcissistic traits mostly found in
leadership positions (Blair, Hoffman & Helland, 2008) Additionally,
narcissism is considered a drive to achieve a position of leadership (Kets de
Vries & Miller, 1985). Barry et al. mentioned that narcissistic individuals
have both adaptive properties such as authority and leadership, and have
adaptive properties such as arrogance (2007).  These qualities may seem in a positive
perspective in organizations in the short periods of time. However, in the long
term narcissistic individuals’ maladaptive features rise to the surface and
these individuals become perceived in a negative attitude (Campbell and
Campbell, 2009). Narcissistic individuals’ features influence their leadership
both in negative and positive ways; whereas positive ways are considered as
good side of narcissism, negative ways are considered as a dark side of
narcissism.

            Dark side of the narcissism, is the
negative effects of the narcissism and it mostly grows up in leaders. To have
narcissistic traits usually makes individuals inadequate and less effective
leaders. According to a study, narcissistic individuals tend to be ineffective
leaders because they are lacking integrity and narcissistic traits influence leader’s
conceptual and interpersonal abilities negatively so, these leaders are more
likely to be immoral (Blair, Hoffman & Helland, 2008).  In another study, findings show that
narcissistic leaders are more prone to put the needs of themselves above needs
of others (Grijalva et al., 2014), so it can be inferred that they are selfish,
and this trait may influence their co-workers as well as the organization
negatively. Their selfishness is usually due to their lack of empathy, because
according to Rosenthal and Pittinsky’ research, narcissistic leader’s egocentric and idiosyncratic world
view, influence
their decisions (2006). Narcissistic leaders usually resort to manipulation in
order to make others think they are more proficient than actually they are, and
they underestimate their co-workers to feel themselves outstanding (Gardner
& Pierce, 2011). This belittlement may arise from their high need for
domination. Blair, Hoffman
& Helland’s study support this claim; in the study it is mentioned that
narcissistic leaders generally want to rule and beat others because according
to them life is a competition in which only one can win (2008). Moreover, in
the organizational success, they usually take this success on themselves and in
failure they usually accuse others for their inadequacies (Rosenthal &
Pittinsky, 2006). Their high need for success and appreciation, feeling of
grandiosity may lead them to take credits for organizational success. All these
dark traits, cause narcissistic leaders to develop bad relationships with their
co-workers, this situation may influence co-workers’ performance so, it makes
narcissistic leaders as insufficient leaders.

            Although people generally expect
that narcissism has only negative effects on leadership behaviors, there are
some good sides of narcissism. According to Post (1986), for some conditions,
especially in crisis, narcissistic leaders can be more effective and more
desired by their followers than less narcissistic ones. Furthermore, Maccoby
(2000) identified leaders who use their power to sculpt the future rather than
self-enhancement as “productive narcissist” leaders, and Maccoby stated two
strengths of them. According to Maccoby (2000), the first strength is that they
have a broad vision therefore they can predict future and they can make
important changes based on their vision. The second strength of them is that
they have desire and potential to influence others like employees in the
organization to actualize their ideas which are grounded in their vision
(Maccoby, 2000).

Conclusion

            Narcissism is mostly studied as a
personality trait in the organizational context. Narcissistic leaders in
organizations both have dark sides and good sides. Narcissistic leaders have
high needs for superiority, success and power, they are lacking empathy and
they are arrogant; these features make them ineffective leaders. They usually
exaggerate their successes because of their high need for feeling of
grandiosity. They usually underestimate others and want to dominate their
co-workers. Narcissistic leaders are generally selfish, and their needs are
more important than others’ need according to these individuals. On the other
hand, if narcissistic leaders have desire to influence others and the future in
a good way and there is a crisis in the environment, they can be even more
effective than leaders who are not narcissistic. Maccoby (2000) indicated that self-knowledge
and desire to sculpt future rather than aggrandizing can be a moderator between
narcissism and leadership behaviors. These studies are important because they may
assert an idea about how to make narcissistic behaviors into positive outcomes.

Limitations and Future
Directions

            There are some limitations of the
study which can have adverse effects on the results. First of all, most of the
studies in the literature are correlational studies that have little control
and cannot infer cause-effect relationship. There are just a few experiments on
this topic but those experiments were conducted for specific conditions like in
military cadets. The limited number of experiments in specific groups rather
than experiments on organizational leadership in general prevent researchers to
generalize the results and find the underlying reasons or moderators between
narcissism and leadership.

            The other important limitation of
the studies is that gender equality do not provided in terms of number of women
and men. Most of the studies in the literature are conducted with men and most
of the data are collected from men leaders. There are just a few research which
collect data from women. It can be problematic because of the limited source to
compare gender effects of gender trends in leadership and narcissism. Moreover,
it’s also problematic to generalize the results without controlling whether
they’re the same or not.

            Lastly, the great number of the
studies were conducted in Western societies, because of the deficiency of
research in different cultures generalization can be debatable. The perspective
toward leadership or leadership behaviors and the level of showing narcissism
to others in the organization or attitudes towards narcissism can be different
in independent or collectivistic cultures and these can have potential effects
on the results. Therefore, conducting these kinds of studies in various
societies would be more beneficial to generalize the results and see the
differences or similarities between those cultures.

            In
order to reduce the adverse effects of limitations, further studies can be
conducted. Experiments might be designed to measure the topic empirically,
therefore number of women and men can be controlled in the experiments.
Moreover, the situation of the organization can be considered. Because the
situation of the organization which is whether the organization is in crisis,
in process of change or stay stable can affect the leaders’ behaviors and
attitudes toward narcissism. Moreover, solid evidences like profit, successful
change or advancements can be examined while analyzing outcomes of leadership
narcissism. Lastly, 360° feedbacks can be gathered from all coworkers and subordinates
to evaluate the leader.