Do You Have to Be Narcissistic to be a Leader?

This should probably come as no surprise.  But men are more narcissistic than women.

I suspect this is true because women who think highly of themselves are often thought of as vain and self-centered while men who do, aren't. When was the last time someone called George Clooney in love with himself?

With three decades of data from more than 475,000 participants, a new study from the University at Buffalo School of Management reveals that men, on average, are more narcissistic than women, according to 

“Narcissism is associated with various interpersonal dysfunctions, including an inability to maintain healthy long-term relationships, unethical behavior and aggression,” says lead author Emily Grijalva, PhD, assistant professor of organization and human resources in the UB School of Management.

But at the same time, narcissism is also shown to boost self-esteem, emotional stability and the tendency to emerge as a leader.

Think of the people you knew in high school who were good-looking and knew it.  Maybe they were athletes, or ran the newspaper.  How many of them went on to accomplish something really great?  I can think of at least two from mine.
The study suggests that men are more likely than women to exploit others and feel entitled to certain privileges. And compared with women, men exhibit more assertiveness and desire for power, Grijalva says.

Research has shown that personality differences, like narcissism, can arise from gender stereotypes and expectations that have been ingrained over time. The authors speculate that the persistent lack of women in senior leadership roles may partially stem from the disparity between stereotypes of femininity and leadership.

Who hasn't been there?  Try to present an alternative idea as a woman at a meeting and get called "bossy" or "over-bearing."  Do it as a man?  You're called strong, intelligent.  In charge.

“Individuals tend to observe and learn gender roles from a young age, and may face backlash for deviating from society’s expectations,” Grijalva says. “In particular, women often receive harsh criticism for being aggressive or authoritative, which creates pressure for women, more so than for men, to suppress displays of narcissistic behavior.”

So is narcissism really just incipient leadership, in disguise?  I guess if you're going to be a leader, you have to think highly of yourself.  But I know people who adore themselves who really don't have much else going for them.  So it seems it's a toss-up, like just about everything else in life. 

Would I call Obama narcissistic?  No.  But would I call Clinton (that's Bill)?  Yes.  Hillary, not so sure. 


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