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Toxic Narcissistic Leadership in the Workplace

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

The Mantra of Toxic Leadership

Article Written by Martin Ward

Narcissistic Abuse and Guidance with Randi Fine

"You're in my world now".

Five simple but emotionally charged words that were fired at me by a senior colleague I worked with many years ago, during a debate on some point I can't now remember. The words sent a chill down my spine and for good reason, as time would reveal, since this was to prove my first glimpse into the inner workings of a highly narcissistic mind.

We are told that the opposite of success is not failure, but failure to act. I can buy this. Likewise, I believe the opposite of positive leadership is not negative leadership per se, although this runs a close second; it is actually narcissistic leadership. Why? Because even with negative leadership it is still essentially all about the team, just with unhelpful tactics thrown in the mix. With a highly narcissistic person at the helm it is all about the leader themselves, and only them; the team are simply pawns in the narcissist's game.

So what's the issue with a narcissistic leadership style?

Firstly, narcissistic leaders create a toxic culture that is literally a 'cult of personality' that pays scant attention to the needs or well being of other team members. Narcissistic leaders are also unlikely to solicit or accept any critical feedback on their chosen course or direction, which can spell disaster if they get it wrong. Finally, and most importantly, narcissistic leaders can cause real damage to the m