The Coach's Corner

Archive for February, 2014

How to be successful working with a productive narcissistic leader

February 17th, 2014 // Tom Doescher //

This is a continuation of our discussion regarding narcissistic leaders. If you haven’t already read “Is a narcissistic leader a bad leader?”, please check it out. Author Michael Maccoby, in his book Narcissistic Leaders, offers five principles for working with these types of individuals: know yourself and your type (in the book he gets into the other personality types, which include erotic, obsessive, and marketing); acquire deep knowledge in your field (using Steve Jobs as an example, you’d better know a lot about technology); learn how to partner effectively; don’t invest your own ego (or we would say “check your ego at the door”); and protect the narcissist’s image. In the book, Maccoby provides some examples of other leaders who have been successful in dealing with a narcissist. Many of them served as COO-types: Ford had Harry Bennett, Herb Kelleher had Colleen Barrett, and Bill Gates had Steve Ballmer.

For those of you who are working with a productive narcissistic leader, we would highly recommend reading Maccoby’s book. In our next blog, we’ll discuss tips for those of you who may be a productive narcissistic leader.

Is a narcissistic leader a bad leader?

February 3rd, 2014 // Tom Doescher //

In our last blog, we suggested that in an effort to grow and develop as a leader, it’s important to read books and listen to folks who have different points of view. Our latest example comes from reading Narcissistic Leaders by Michael Maccoby. He presents a pretty compelling case, and explains why what he calls “productive narcissistic leaders” have made significant contributions to the world. Maccoby, a psychoanalyst born in 1933, would label the following individuals as productive narcissistic leaders: Abraham Lincoln, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Herb Kelleher, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Jack Welch, among others. He calls them “change the world” personalities, and says they have the following strengths: a vision for changing the world, independent thinking, a willingness to take risks, passion, and charisma. They are/were also voracious learners, knew how to persevere, were alert to threats, and possessed a sense of humor.

Probably what most of us observe are their weaknesses, which Maccoby would list as: not listening, oversensitivity to criticism, paranoia, anger, putting down others, a sense of over-competitiveness, over-control, isolation, exaggeration, lying, lack of self-knowledge, and grandiosity. In our August 21, 2012, Food For Thought article entitled “Was Steve Jobs a Great — or Even a Good — Leader?” we discussed many of these weaknesses. We also pointed out that Jobs changed six industries, including personal computers, phones, tablet computing, music, digital publishing, and animated movies.

For those of you who are working with a productive narcissistic leader, we would highly recommend that you take a look at Maccoby’s book. In our next blog, we’ll consider his tips for successfully working with a productive narcissistic leader.

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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