Narcissism is Good for Business narcissism

Love, love me do. You know I love…me!

I love taking things to the extremes, adding a bit of spice to an otherwise bland, mediocre, middle-of -the road mindset. Yes, I know that everyone else says this, but I mean it. That’s why, for example, at BizCamp Newry 2012 I advised entrepreneurs to develop their narcissistic tendencies. Then I read a BBC article in defence of narcissim. Maybe I’m not so rad after all; let’s see.

Narcissism is usually defined as a mental illness or personality disorder. Some psychologists do admit that there is such a thing as healthy narcissism, “the healthy narcissist being someone who has a real sense of self-esteem that can enable them to leave their imprint on the world, but who can also share in the emotional life of others.” Without such a foundation of self-esteem, the narcissist acts from a place of resentment and repression rather than authentic self-respect.

In practical terms this means developing the constant habits of:

  • receiving positive feedback with a ‘thank you’ rather than a ‘yes, but’
  • allowing others to share in celebrating your achievements and victories
  • thinking big about what you want to accomplish in this life
  • admitting when you know more about something than others

So far, so trite? Then try these.

  • relishing those aspects of your personality, taste and style that set you apart from everyone
  • asserting your self-defined rights and values in the face of indifference or opposition
  • acknowledging that you are the centre of your universe (like everyone else!)
  • refusing to let others waste your time, contaminate you with negativity or bore you out of mere politeness
  • feeling good as you overcome obstacles and increase your power over self, circumstances and others
  • using others to achieve your goals while allowing elective reciprocation
  • constructing viewpoints that are unique and provocative
  • finding a purpose or mission that you will surrender to no-one on this earth

At least, this is what ‘healthy narcissism’ means for me (which is all that matters after all…)

Narcissism is hot topic is business since Michael Maccoby wrote an article in The Harvard Business Review called Narcissistic Leaders: The Incredible Pros, the Inevitable Cons. He also wrote a business book called The Productive Narcissist: The Promise and Peril of Visionary Leadership. Leadership is really where narcissism and business meet for most writers. For a more negative appraisal of this relationship, read the article Narcissistic Leaders: Effectiveness and the Role of Followers by Ben Brown. This is an issue with which business coaches in particular need to grapple.

Are you a narcissist? Take this free, online tests to find out – the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. My score was 25 out of 40, higher than 87.8% of the sample. The average is around 16. I scored high on authority, self-sufficiency, superiority and entitlement, but low on exhibitionism and exploitativeness, with a near zero on vanity. Now I know what I have to work on. What about you?

Image credit: centralasian.