When ‘Me’ Trumps ‘We’: Narcissistic Leaders and the Cultures They Create

When ‘Me’ Trumps ‘We’: Narcissistic Leaders and the Cultures They Create

By
Charles A. O’Reilly, Jennifer Chatman, Bernadette Doer
Academy of Management Proceedings. August
2018, Vol. 2018, Issue 1

Researchers have become increasingly interested in how narcissistic leaders influence people and organizations. Some studies have shown that narcissistic leaders positively influence their firms because people are drawn to their grandiose visions, self-confidence, and bold actions. Other research has painted a more negative picture, showing that narcissists’ low integrity, lack of empathy, and sense of entitlement can lead them to put the organizations they lead at risk and reduce their value. We contribute to this research by showing how narcissistic can affect the enduring patterns of behavior, or culture, within the organizations they lead. We examine how narcissistic leaders influence their organizational culture’s emphasis on collaboration and integrity. In two field studies and two scenario studies, we show that more narcissistic managers: (a) prefer cultures that are lower on collaboration and integrity; (b) lead organizations with cultures that place less emphasis on collaboration and integrity; (c) endorse policies and procedures that are associated with cultures with less collaboration and lower integrity; and (d) have followers who are less likely to make decisions that support collaboration and integrity. We discuss the potentially lasting impact of narcissistic leaders on the cultures they cultivate.