Big business today can be largely attributed to CEOs and leaders that are narcissistic. These leaders tend to be the center of attention more so now days then they used to be which is something a narcissistic person enjoys. Narcissists have been in business for a long time and have made great strides. People such as Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford were narcissists that were very successful business men. Narcissism may have been a good trait to achieve a high status in business but it can also make the person dangerous or not very likable.
Heinz Kohut and Freud looked deeper into the theory and found that it could be treated by properly trained clinicians. Jack Welch and George Soros are prime examples of people who are what is called a productive narcissist; they strive to make a difference in the world and make a name for themselves. But narcissism can be bad enough that you believe that things are out to stand in your way of achievement and therefore you trust no one.
Narcissists can sometimes become overly ambitious and shoot to high which can cause them to end up losing everything.
Gyllenhammar is a prime example, he chose to not listen to anyone and found himself in court being forced to resign. Freud narrowed the main personality types down to erotic, obsessive, and narcissistic. Those with an erotic personality need to be loved by others that is the most important element of life to them. These types of people tend to be teachers, nurses or social workers. At their best, they help better the young and are a big help when working. They have a positive effect on those around them in the workplace.
Freud referred to them as outer directed people. Freud referred to obsessives as inner directed. They are very in tune with what is going on and look to themselves to resolve conflicts. They are obsessed with improvement when working because by nature they value moral improvement over everything else. They tend to go into a field of work that spurs their interest but they don’t have what it takes to go from slightly above average to amazing. At their best they shoot high, and do what is necessary for the business to succeed.
When productive they work well with others but when unproductive they usually don’t succeed. Narcissists are very self-indulged and don’t care much for others. When it comes to business they know their field inside and out and go above and beyond. Narcissists are extremely hungry for knowledge about their business. They desire to be admired by others but not necessarily loved. Maccoby (2000) states that unlike obsessives, they are not troubled by a punishing superego, so they are able to be very aggressive in pursuit of their goals.
Maccoby (2000) goes on to say of all the personality types, narcissists run the greatest risk of isolating themselves at the moment of success. And because of their independence and aggressiveness, they are constantly looking out for enemies, sometimes degenerating into paranoia when they are under extreme stress. Obsessives as leaders tend to try and expand on a safe level that is practical and likely to benefit the company.
Narcissists want more, they go all out and take big risks that if they work as planned will greatly benefit the business; but it is not as likely to work. Narcissists may hide it well but they feed of f of praise and recognition of followers. Without that admiration narcissists become overwhelmed, but too much admiration can cause them to feel too superior this can lead to dangerous acts that may be detrimental to the business. Narcissists can’t handle criticism; they remain out of tune with their emotions as much as possible.
Due to the fact that narcissists can’t deal with being criticized they tend to completely ignore negative comments toward them. Narcissists also have no compassion what so ever. They can perform acts that may anger or sadden someone without any remorse. They are so independent that they don’t like to mentor anyone or be mentored. Competition is a narcissist’s forte; they get so into it that they would do almost anything to be the best. A trust-worthy sidekick has to be someone they can relate to and keeps him down to earth.
They believe that everyone around them should think the same thing that they do even if it involves brainwashing. They are control-freaks, and want to know everything that’s going on at all times. These productive narcissists make good leaders by nature but the rest of them sometimes can’t see their limitations and will end up in trouble. Maccoby (2000) sums this altogether with for companies whose narcissistic leaders recognize their limitations, these will be the best of times. For others, these could turn out to be the worst.