Like a Cassandra, here we are reaping what we sowed..
We are at an intersection in our culture where two forces are at work. Altruism versus narcissism. Jim Collins author of the best selling From Good to Great evaluated the fortune 500 companies and came to the conclusion that Level 5 leaders are essential to take a company from good to great status. He lauds leaders like Bill Packard who maintained a low profile and maintained a work ethic of hard work and long term goals. on the other hand, there are companies that are created and are addicted to charismatic leaders who offer advantages.
But with the dramatic discontinuities going on in the world today, more and more large corporations are getting into bed with narcissists. They are finding that there is no substitute for narcissistic leaders in an age of innovation. Companies need leaders who do not try to anticipate the future so much as create it. But narcissistic leaders—even the most productive of them—can self-destruct and lead their organizations terribly astray. For companies whose narcissistic leaders recognize their limitations, these will be the best of times. For others, these could turn out to be the worst.
from "Narcissistic Leaders: The Incredible Pros, the Inevitable Cons" by Michael Maccoby won a McKinsey Award, which recognizes the two best Harvard Business Review articles published each year.
Unless one has the experience of dealing with narcissism, it is difficult to appreciate how strong a force drives the grandiosity of the narcissism. Remember the phrases, "I am the greatest; I am all powerful; the space is mine; it belongs to me; only what I want matters." Furthermore, since narcissism is ruled by "black and white" thinking, it is great, or it is nothing, and therefore a failure. There is no space for collaboration, for becoming or for emergence of a process. Bruce Gregory, Ph.D extracted from chapter to Pathways to Sustainability: The Age of Transformation
"I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong." Abraham Lincoln
Harvard Business Review focuses on narcissists
The Harvard Business Review Jan-Feb 2000 (pages 69-77) contains an article by Michael Maccoby entitled Narcissistic leaders : the incredible pros, the inevitable cons. The article explores the strengths and weaknesses of the narcissistic leaders and suggests that "because of their independence and aggressiveness, they are constantly looking out for enemies, sometimes degenerating into paranoia when they are under extreme stress."
The article continues: "Narcissistic leaders typically keep others at arm's length ... given their difficulty with knowing or acknowledging their own feelings, they are uncomfortable with other people expressing theirs - especially their negative feelings ... Narcissists are almost unimaginable thin-skinned ... They cannot tolerate dissent. In fact, they can be abrasive with employees who doubt them or subordinates who are tough enough to fight back. Steve Jobs (CEO and Founder of Apple), for example, publicly humiliates subordinates. Thus, although narcissistic leaders often say they want teamwork, what that means in practice is that they want a group of yes-men. As the more independent-minded players leave or are pushed out, succession becomes a particular problem ... There is a kind of emotional intelligence associated with narcissists, but it's more street smart then empathy. They know who they can use. They can be brutally exploitative."