Wednesday, February 8, 2017

What Happens When You Have A Narcissist For President?

I taught a course on leadership that included a case study of a narcissistic CEO.  He built a rapidly growing and very profitable business.  Part of his success was attributed to his narcissism.  He used his personality to charm customers, investors and many in the media who promoted him as the second coming of Steve Jobs.  His narcissism also had many downsides.  He did not listen to many of the key executives on his staff when they disagreed with him.  He also devoted too much of his time building his image with his promoters in the media.  He placed copies of adoring articles on his office wall. He was highly critical of CEO's who were also successful.  He constantly boasted about his performance relative to his selected rivals.  His great wealth also got him invited as guest to plush communities that provided a home for America's elite.  Unfortunately, he never felt at ease with the elite.  They were better educated,  and many of them grew up in wealthy families which made him feel like an outsider.  His sense of rejection compelled him to struggle even harder to promote his business and its stock price.  This led him to force his accounting staff to take liberties with the financial data they provided to the SEC.  That led to a SEC investigation that was harmful to his investors and to many of his customers.

Donald Trump is classic narcissist.  His success and many of his problems are related to his personality.  One of his problems is that there have been numerous leaks about his behavior from within his administration.  This is a common problem in new administrations.  However, many of the leaks reflect deep concerns about his ability to run a complex organization and to effectively use his staff.  He is quick to blame others for his mistakes, and his lack of concern for anyone but himself breeds distrust.  This article reflects two ways of dealing with the leaks.  One of the approaches to develop a system to detect and eliminate those who are leaking information to the press.  The other approach is to attempt the impossible.  That is, to prevent a narcissist from behaving like a narcissist.

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