- The characteristics of narcissistic leaders — "a reluctance to engage in collaboration and a propensity to skirt the rules" — can "infiltrate" the cultures of companies that allow such personalities into leadership positions, according to a September study from the Berkeley Haas School of Business.
- Narcissistic leaders can put whole organizations at risk, the study posits, because of their "diffuse but persuasive ‘dark side’ impact" on the cultures they unintentionally create. Narcissistic leaders prefer cultures that "blur ethical boundaries" and "specifically undermine collaboration" when promoted to leadership positions, they will encourage rules and employee engagement that follow those same lines.
- To avoid such an outcome, employers may need to develop practices that prevent the hiring and promotion of narcissistic leaders, the study said.
Leadership is a key aspect of company culture and bad leadership can drive employees away, various studies have said.
"How leaders manage their emotions and how they make other people feel are the strongest drivers of talent retention," Stephanie Neal, director of DDI's Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research, said about an earlier study. Some of an employer’s trouble may begin at the promotion stage, the DDI study noted; respondents reported regret accepting the promotion and that it was often unexpected.
To prevent narcissistic managers, employers may need to focus on the leader development stage — but HR is struggling to do so, according to a January report from Gartner. In the survey, a third of respondents reported struggles with developing future leaders and 45% said they struggled with filling mid-level management positions, creating "leadership bench instability" that could lead to narcissistic managers rising through the ranks unchecked.
A culture of healthy confidence matters. Employees that feel confident are overwhelmingly more likely to stick around, an Indeed survey from February showed. "Employers can — and should — nurture this quality across the workforce," Liz Lewis, Indeed writer and researcher, previously wrote about the results. And employers can do so by promoting supportive managers, Lewis added.