There’s a case to be made for narcissistic CEOs who can lead companies to greatness, inspire followers and achieve game-changing solutions in our rapidly changing world.

“It is narcissistic leaders who take us to places we’ve never been before, who innovate, who build empires out of nothing.” ~ Michael Maccoby, Narcissistic Leaders: Who Succeeds and Who Fails (Crown Business, 2012).

By creating a vision others can follow, narcissists gain personal security and overcome isolation. This is what motivates them to be captivating, inspirational, charming and seductive.

History and business have witnessed legions of successful, productive narcissists who led their organizations to great success: Napoleon, Rockefeller, Roosevelt and Churchill. In the last 20 years, we’ve enjoyed radical advances from companies led by productive narcissists like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Andy Grove, Howard Schultz, Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey.

Many companies, even those known for innovation, don’t want to hire narcissists who are visionary. No matter how much their leaders boast of encouraging independent thinking and creativity, many have little tolerance for true originals or mavericks. They prefer the obsessive leader who is driven to please and enforces company rules.

Productive narcissists want to create new paradigms that change the way we live and work. Conversely, obsessive business leaders excel at cutting costs, culling nonperformers from the pack, and implementing the right processes and systems. Which is the better leadership personality type for the future?

The answer, of course, depends on context. At this time in history, we need creative energy and passion more than ever before.

What apparently differentiates the more successful visionary leaders from the failures (besides moral reasoning) is strategic intelligence, which is why leadership personality matters.

Leaders in charge of developing business strategies set priorities based on their personality type and innate drives. Selecting leaders through assessment of personality can help assure the right fit.

“All people, especially leaders, need a healthy dose of narcissism…it’s the engine that drives leadership.” ~ Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries

What’s your opinion? Which personality types work in your office? As always, I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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