Surely you know one or even several such people, for which empathy and compassion seem to be a foreign word. And yet it is not uncommon for this type of person to often come through life more successfully and to achieve higher and more influential positions in the job. Among experts, this mix of narcissism, machiavellianism and psychopathy is also called the “dark triad”. The three specific personality disorders often occur in everyday professional life among managers who, through their ruthlessness and the priosing of their own goals and needs, open their way to high career positions.

This part of the article series will focus on the characteristics of narcissism.

What exactly does the term “dark triad” actually mean?

However, before going into more detail about narcissism in this article, and thus the first of the three personality disorders, I would first like to define more precisely the term ‘dark triad’, in terms of meaning and origin.

More than 15 years ago, psychologists Delroy Paulhaus and Kevin Williams (University Vancouver) devised the scheme of the “dark triad.” The grid describes the three specific personality disorders narcissism, machiavellianism and psychopathy. In their research, the experts found that the presence of one or more of the three components of the “dark triad” is strongly represented, especially among executives. The results of the research showed that employees often change their jobs in order to gain a good position in the profession by satisfying their superiors. Managers, on the other hand, often have greater freedom and have to “prove” themselves less strongly. As a result, they tend to remain “self” in the job and to use their own personality consciously and intentionally for their own benefit.

The following illustration. 1 shows how the individual specific personality disorders can become apparent in reality. You may also be able to recognize such a type in your professional environment.

Dark Triad
Figure. 1: The “dark triad”

Personality disorders of the “dark triad”: narcissism

We all know at least one such person: total refusal to criticize, overly self-indulgent with an excessively high form of self-expression. At the same time charming and self-confident. Narcissism is relatively common among specific personality disorders.

In addition to these characteristics, narcissists also tend to assess their own abilities much better than they do in reality. This often makes them feel superior to other people, which often results in dominant behavior. Coupled with highlighting one’s own person, narcissists usually lack a social consciousness, so they like to react with degrading to their fellow human beings. In particular, the willingness to accept criticism is only so weak in narcissism that people with that personality disorder often react inalyinteling, rejecting, and sometimes even aggressively. The resulting lack of willingness to compromise makes narcissists quickly anangle their surroundings and make them uncomfortable.

At the same time, narcissists’ own social status in society is enormously important. They want to be admired and appreciated and to draw attention to themselves as permanently as possible. They succeed in this, especially through their positive character traits. For example, narcissists often exude a lot of charm and convince with their strong self-confidence and persuasiveness. However, people from the area of narcissism walk to a narrow degree. Because of the lack of empathy and understanding towards their fellow human beings, narcissists often seem cool, arrogant, selfish and arrogant. Many people feel this is a real imposition.

Narcissists in the world of work

Especially thanks to their positive characteristics, narcissists often occupy high-ranking positions in the world of work. They like to take on the decisive and leading role in groups and teams and convince with their stability. It is precisely these aspects of leadership that they can pursue their urge for recognition, attention and admiration.

However, narcissists quickly notice their colleagues and employees negatively. Because the charismatic, competent and convincing impression that still exists at the beginning can change quickly due to the ruthless and degrading behaviour. Tensions quickly arise in the workplace, as narcissists are no longer perceived as role models, but as arrogant and self-loving colleagues, employees or superiors. This in turn seriously deteriorates the working environment, so that communication and information exchange are often disrupted. Especially when working in teams, this has performance-reducing consequences. Other team members feel uncomfortable working with their narcissistic colleagues. Especially because they are not capable of criticism.

At the same time, narcissists in leadership positions often tend to make hasty and risky decisions with far-reaching repercussions. As a result, the business success essays of organizations can fluctuate enormously.

Narcissism: Integration into corporate strategies

Because of their characteristics, narcissists are really striving for leadership positions. Companies can benefit from the strong self-confidence and persuasiveness of these employees. At the same time, the inability to accept criticism and the exaggerated self-expression of narcissists can lead to tension in the workplace. The climate in teams and in the workplace in general can also be strongly influenced by the satisfaction of the narcissists. Because when their urge for admiration and recognition is not sufficiently satisfied, narcissistic employees and managers often tend to behave unethically. In addition to degrading and bullying others, this also includes crimes such as theft.

It is important for organizations to carefully weigh up the pros and cons of recruiting narcissists.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/de/illustrations/frau-smiley-emoticon-%C3%A4rger-face-1253490/

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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