Leading a Narcissist

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NarcissistIn just one day, 250 million photos were uploaded
to Facebook and 864,000 hours of video to YouTube, according to
fastcompany.com. We minister in the midst of a narcissism epidemic.
“Look at me, look at me, look at me now!” People long to be the
center of the universe today. Now, not everyone is a narcissist who
tweets or uses facebook. In fact, while studies show that
narcissism is on the rise, I rarely run into one. Managing a
narcissist, though, is a unique challenge.
How can you lead a narcissistic on your team? Here are a few key
narcissistic characteristics I’ve observed that you have to
manage:

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  1. Star Role Mentality-A narcissist already
    believes she’s the star of her life. Evidence of this is excessive
    tweeting, blogging, facebook-posting about the ever-so-interesting
    minutiae of her life. A narcissist believes the rest of us are just
    waiting on every post to know just how amazing life is in her
    world. A narcissist may listen politely to others’ ideas in
    brainstorming, but deep down she believes that her ideas are really
    10 times better than others. So the idea of “brainstorming” is just
    an idea.

    How to manage: Cautiously give
    upfront roles to this person. The “stage” is like crack to a
    narcissist addict. Once you give a mic to a narcissist who doesn’t
    fully represent your values, you’re in trouble.  It’s very
    difficult to maintain your values/DNA with a narcissist who’ll do
    anything to get a laugh or attention. In brainstorm sessions, to
    get the best teamwork when you have a raging narcissist, continue
    to coach her on allowing others to also speak and being kind in her
    critique. 

  2. Teflon Mentality-A narcissist believes he does
    everything amazingly well. In fact, a narcissist believes that if
    there are problems with his work, it’s probably you who has the
    problem. If only you could see how amazing he is, he
    thinks, you’d quit correcting him. It’s very
    difficult to correct a narcissist who won’t acknowledge the need
    for correction.

    How to manage: Repetition seems to
    work for awhile. Continue to stay on message and reiterate the
    areas that need correction over and over and over. At the end of
    the day, it’ll go right back to the problem being you, but at least
    in the short-term you’ll see small improvements. 

  3. Fool Mentality-A narcissist believes that
    there’s nothing you can teach her since she’s great at everything
    already. Proverbs 17:10 says “A single rebuke does more for a
    person of understanding than a hundred lashes on the back of a
    fool.” Try as you might, pointing out areas that need improvement
    may not get through to a narcissist-even if you do it a hundred
    times. A narcissist won’t work on learning what you need her to
    because, after all, she has no deficits.

    How to manage:
     Like it or not, you may have to
    say goodbye to a narcissist on your team. If she absolutely will
    not heed correction, you need to help her see that it’s time to go.
    You may even need to fire the person. Upholding your ministry’s DNA
    and values outweighs the narcissist’s need to do it her
    super-awesome-amazing way that only she is the star of.

If you’d like to read more about the narcissism
epidemic, click here.

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About Author

Christine Yount Jones

Christine has more than 26 years of children’s ministry experience. She is the Executive Editor of Children’s Ministry Magazine, has authored many books and articles on children’s ministry, and serves as Group’s Children’s Ministry Champion. She’s responsible for development and innovation of new resources.

1 Comment

  1. Chris:

    Interesting post, I can't help but think this one's about me! (Haha would that be narcissistic??) I see most of these as strengths to be utilized, rather than weaknesses to be exploited. I think being able to navigate talented people on a team shows the mettle of any good leader! :) Belief in the merit of one's ideas, not getting depressed or knocked down from constant "correction," and genuine talent in a God-given area are all strengths, as I see them. And the Teflon Mentality one, I think I actually said the "he thinks" part in one of our meetings! lol

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