- We hear narcissism thrown around in both casual talk at home and professional conversations in workplaces.
- Many adults remember our schooling days when some learned about Greek mythology that included the story of a youth named Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water and therefore became obsessed with himself.
- The concept of narcissism, often referenced but less frequently understood, came to become more commonplace knowledge across the world during the administration of former US President Donald Trump.
My ex-girlfriend was such a narcissist. My colleagues exhibit signs of narcissism. Your boss has extreme narcissistic behaviours. We hear narcissism thrown around in both casual talk at home and professional conversations in workplaces.
Many adults remember our schooling days when some learned about Greek mythology that included the story of a youth named Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water and therefore became obsessed with himself.
The concept of narcissism, often referenced but less frequently understood, came to become more commonplace knowledge across the world during the administration of former US President Donald Trump who was often accused of being a narcissist. But narcissism is actually even deeper than just self-obsession.
Social scientists Allan Tasman and Michael First define narcissism as a persistent pattern of extreme self-importance in someone’s fantasies and outward behaviours that includes the need for admiration but coupled with a stunning lack of empathy. Narcissists cannot share or comprehend the feelings of others.
Such people truly believe that they are uniquely special, need admiration to function, and feel entitled to the point of exploiting others. One can often spot a narcissist because they typically display arrogance while also pointing out that others are envious or jealous of them.
Most of us can point to a few friends, family, and workmates who fit some or all of those narcissistic traits. If someone falls into at least five of the above characteristics of a narcissist, then they could likely be clinically diagnosed.
But ever work with or for an organisation and you became increasingly convinced that the entity itself had attributes of narcissism? Not just some of the people inside the company, but the organisation itself and its culture possessed those traits.
Some may caution making the leap from individual psychological diagnosis over to assigning similar attributes to corporations and firms. But researchers Lynn Godkin and Seth Allcorn did just that. They came up with a way to measure whether an organisation you work with holds arrogant organisation disorder.
Arrogant organisation disorder revolves around the entity holding a distorted world view about itself and a slanted inaccurate view of life within it. Perhaps the company thinks it thrives as the best information technology firm in East Africa with top employee benefits but, in reality, it only subsides as mediocre or subpar.
Maybe a training college proclaims itself as the fountain of knowledge in a certain trade or skill and arrogantly cascades this belief to all staff but in reality only a few people who pass through its training actually get employed in that trumpeted sector.
A microfinance institution might champion itself as uplifting the working poor out of poverty through access to business loan funding and with the greatest efficiency, but in all honesty an impact assessment finds that most loan clients become even more impoverished because of the crippling interest rates charged.
Companies with arrogant organisation disorder often retain a management team who compulsively hold onto rigid strict beliefs and actions about systems and how things should be run without listening to the views of employees. Such behaviour fits organisational narcissism that lowers learning within firms and reduces performance.
Many types of firms are the most prone to arrogant organisation disorder including parastatals and multinational conglomerates. Industries that frequently fight the disorder include investment banking, equity brokers, telecommunications, and entertainment.
How can you uncover whether your firm behaves like a narcissist with arrogant organisation disorder that lowers performance, stifles innovation, and causes higher likelihood of entity collapse? Read the below and decide yes or no for each of the fourteen statements. Keep track of how many and which statements you responded yes and no.
(1) Exceptional pride held for the organisation seeing no limitations with no inhibitions on how to accomplish goals.
(2) Widespread feelings of exceptional entitlement that can exploit others.
(3) When excessive pride in the organisation is threatened and goals frustrated, it can trigger both envy and rage.
(4) Organisation leaders spend enormous amounts of time trying to win against their rivals and often involve aggression and revenge.
(5) Internal resistance to the organisation or its leaders is not tolerated and seen as a threat with commensurate firings and demotions.
(6) Intimidation by managers is commonplace.
(7) Fear within the entity ends up suppressing creativity.
(8) Problems in operations are generally thought to just pass without taking any action to resolve them.
(9) Management filters information such that employees only hear very limited sanitised information.
(10) Workers feel it is too dangerous to confront leaders about bad behaviour and therefore do not generate solutions.
(11) Others are often blamed and a culture of scapegoating exists.
(12) Celebrating goal achievement oscillates wildly week to week from great celebration of successes to despair over not attaining even small goals.
(13) Leaders in the firm hide away without much interaction with employees.
(14) There are ingroup cliques versus excluded groups with upsetting and destructive internal warfare.
If you answered yes to nine or more of the above statements, then you work in a toxic culture with arrogant organisation disorder. You should seek alternate employment immediately. Alternatively, if you own a firm with such a culture, then you need to replace the majority of your management team.
If instead you only answered yes to between five and eight statements, then be cautious for a potentially worsening of the organisational culture. Your company is sick and could go either way in the future. If you answered four or less as yes, then congratulations. Your entity does not exhibit many narcissistic tendencies.
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