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Leading a Narcissist

NarcissistIn just one day, 250 million photos were uploaded to Facebook and 864,000 hours of video to YouTube, according to 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:

  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.

Posted at 09:05


Adam Walsh said...
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
May 17, 2012 06:40

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