Narcissistic Leaders: Current Research at the TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning

What does it mean for the performance of a team if the leader is narcissistic? A team of scientists from the TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) addressed this question. The results have now been published in a renowned journal.

Bill Gates or Steve Jobs are well-known examples – many successful and visionary leaders are considered narcissists. Previous studies have provided contradictory answers to the question of whether this trait is good or bad. The publication “Narcissistic Leaders – Promise or Peril? The Patterns of Narcissistic Leaders’ Behaviors and Their Relation to Team Performance”, deals with exactly this topic. The authors are Prof. Dr. Claudia Peus, Founding Director of the TUM Institute for LifeLong Learning, PD Dr. habil. Kristin Knipfer, Executive Director of the Institute, and Prof. Dr. Ellen A. Schmid, who holds the Chair of Responsible Leadership at Munich Business School.

Moderate narcissism of team leaders boosts performance of teams

The researchers paid particular attention to two aspects: What role does the expression of narcissism play in the leader – and how should the context in which this trait occurs be evaluated? Certain behavioral patterns of narcissistic leaders appear particularly significant in this context, while the context seems to play a less important role.

An example from the research project: Some of the narcissistic team leaders exhibited dominant behaviors, but these only had a detrimental effect on team performance when combined with exploitative behavior and showing off. For moderately narcissistic leaders who involved their team in decision-making and encouraged them, dominance actually increased joint performance.

You can view the publication in full on the website of the journal Frontiers in Psychology, among others. The article is linked here.


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