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Incompetency and Narcissism Among Managers Essay

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Updated: Jun 18th, 2020


The decisions made by the management play a key role in the achievement of organisational goals. As a result, the personality traits and attributes of these professionals impact on the success of the firm. For example, a committed and knowledgeable manager is likely to make decisions that enhance the performance of the entity. On their part, ignorant administrators who have problems interacting with their employees may jeopardise the success of their company (Blair, Hoffman & Helland 2008).

Incompetency and narcissism are common attributes among leaders in many organisations. The former describes a person who possesses a grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement (Rouse n.d). Such managers are obsessed with their personal attributes and may disregard the opinions and inputs of other persons. On its part, incompetency describes a manager who lacks the skills needed to run their organisation. Narcissism is associated with the desire to accumulate power. As such, individuals with these traits are likely to be found in positions of leadership. Narcissistic and incompetent leaders are proud and tend to be rude towards their co-workers (Blair et al. 2008). A number of theoretical frameworks have been formulated to define and promote good management and leadership in contemporary organisations. However, in spite of this, companies still have managers who are narcissistic and incompetent. As such, functional leadership theories are not enough to eliminate narcissism and incompetency among managers in organisations. In this paper, the author addresses this issue critically.

The Existence of Narcissistic and Incompetent Managers in Organisations

Narcissistic and incompetent administrators are a common aspect of business entities all over the world. Actually, one may argue that the perfectionist attribute of a narcissistic leader may be one of the reasons why successful organisations exist (Blair et al. 2008). Leadership is one of the most important factors associated with competitive advantage in today’s business environment. Regardless of the technological, financial, or operational attributes of a firm, effective management is needed to achieve success. The leaders formulate the strategies to be adopted, together with the people and procedures to implement them (Stein 2013). As such, leadership can be both an asset and a liability to the firm.

There are various reasons why narcissistic and incompetent managers are found in companies all over the world. According to Dehaghi (2012), narcissism increases one’s chances of passing through a job interview. The extrovert nature of these individuals means that they are more likely to go past the interview panel than their introvert counterparts. Promotions are related to the output of the worker. The aura of narcissistic persons creates an impression that they are performers, even when this is not the case. As such, they are likely to be promoted to leadership and managerial positions even when they do not have the capabilities to handle such jobs (Demir 2012). As such, the organisation ends up with a manager who is possessed with their personality and who exudes more confidence than competence. The incompetency associated with these leaders may be as a result of the discrepancy between their set of skills and those required for the position they are holding (Givarian 2012). As such, the leaders continue holding the positions in spite of the presence of theories touching on the importance of good leadership.

Lack of women in an organisation may also lead to a rise in the number of incompetent and narcissistic leaders. Female workers are believed to be better in reading social cues compared to their male counterparts (Chatterjee & Hambrick 2010). While this supposition may sound stereotypical, it is likely that women are likely to identify narcissistic and incompetent leaders during interviews. As such, the rise of such individuals in the organisation is checked.

Challenges Facing Organisations Led by Narcissistic and Incompetent Leaders

Various management and leadership theories argue that narcissism and incompetence are bad for the organisation. For example, over-confidence may lead to poor judgement and making of wrong decisions (Bergman et al. 2013). For example, the manager may make decisions regarding grandiose investment plans, which may not be beneficial to the organisation. The situation is aggravated when such decisions are made by an incompetent manager.

Another challenge associated with narcissism among managers is their inability to mentor and motivate employees (Geller 2003). The situation may lead to reduced productivity in the organisation. In addition, such leaders may be unable to effectively resolve external constraints. Such limitations include competition and changing market environment. The reason is that most narcissistic leaders are incompetent in communication (Geller 2003). They are unwilling to listen to the opinions of other people. As such, their incompetency makes it hard for the organisation to adjust to the changes in the market. They are inflexible and believe that the whole organisation revolves around them. They are not servants of the business firm they are working for. On the contrary, they expect the organisation to satisfy their ego.

However, in spite of the limitations associated with these administrators, they still exist in organisations. The reason for this is that investors have discovered that narcissistic leaders may be beneficial to the organisation. For example, such managers are able to resolve disputes and set the pace for productivity in the firm (Stein 2013). They find it hard to tolerate incompetence from their employers. The observation may be regarded as ironic considering that their narcissism also makes them incompetent. In addition, some of these leaders have positive attributes that may outweigh their negative traits. For example, they may have the drive and passion needed to drive the vision and mission of the organisation (Bergman et al. 2013). They are averse to failure. As such, their potential can be harnessed to enhance the success of the firm. That is one of the reasons why they still retain their leadership statuses.


Incompetency and narcissism among managers are some of the issues that modern organisations have to grapple with. The individuals hold these positions in spite of the proliferation of theories promoting the importance of good leadership and management. Such managers exist for a number of reasons. To start with, they are able to pass interviews due to their confidence and extroverted nature. In addition, their boisterous predisposition makes it appear like they are performing in their current job positions. As such, they are likely to be promoted to positions of power in the organisation. Incompetence comes in when they hold those positions on the basis of their personal attributes as opposed to qualification. As such, they lack the skills needed to lead.

Narcissistic leaders may have both positive and negative impacts on the firm. For example, their commitment to success increases the productivity of the organisation. However, their inability to adjust to changes and accommodate other people may jeopardise the success of the firm.


Bergman, J, Westerman, J, Bergman, S, & Daly, J. 2013. ‘Narcissism, materialism, and environmental ethics in business students’, Journal of Management, vol. 19 no. 4, pp. 1-26.

Blair, C, Hoffman, B & Helland, K 2008, ‘Narcissism in organisations: a multisource appraisal reflects different perspectives’, Human Performance, vol. 21, pp. 254-276.

Chatterjee, A & Hambrick, D 2010, ‘Executive personality, capability cues, and risk-taking: how narcissistic cues react to their successes and stumbles’, Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings, vol. 56 no. 2, pp. 202-237.

Dehaghi, M 2012, ‘Happiness as an effective factor in organisational commitment of managers’, African Journal of Business Management, vol. 6 no. 33, pp. 9460-9468.

Demir, H 2012, ‘Sport managers’ organisational commitment levels’, African Journal of Business Management, vol. 6 no. 22, pp. 6511-6515.

Geller, E 2003, ‘Organisational behaviour management and industrial/organisational psychology’, Journal of Organisational Behavior Management, vol. 22 no. 2, pp. 111-130.

Givarian, H 2012, ‘Study of the effects of organisational justice on organisational commitment’, African Journal of Business Management, vol. 11 no. 3, pp. 26-37.

Rouse, R n.d., ‘Ineffective participation: reactions to absentee and incompetent nurse leadership in an intensive care unit’, Journal of Nursing Management, vol. 17 no. 4, pp. 463-473.

Stein, M 2013, ‘When does narcissistic leadership become problematic?: Dick Fuld at Lehman Brothers’, Journal of Management Inquiry, vol. 22 no. 3, pp. 282-293.

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