Monthly Archives: March 2017

Different Personalities at Work: Narcissism and CWB

The definition of Narcissism has changed overtime. From admiration of one’s physical traits to now, Narcissism has been associated with excessive vanity, self-involvement, and lack of empathy.

In a study conducted by Lisa M. Penney and Paul E. Spector University of South Florida in 2002. Narcissism related to trait anger, job constraints, and CWB (Counterproductive work behaviours) and that the relationship between narcissism and CWB would be mediated by anger. In addition, narcissism was found to moderate the relationship between job constraints and CWB, such that individuals high in narcissism reported more CWB when constraints were high, than individuals low in narcissism. CWB are behaviours by employees intended to harm their organization or organization members, such as theft, sabotage, interpersonal aggression, work slowdowns, wasting time and/or materials, and spreading rumours.

Different Personalities at Work: Narcissism

Narcissistic leadership is a leadership style in which the leader is only interested in him/herself. Their priority is themselves – at the expense of their people/group members. This leader exhibits the characteristics of a narcissist: arrogance, dominance and hostility. We are often obsessed with narcissistic leaders, or at we have ambivalence between the ones we like and the ones they promote.

Some observers  have openly called Trump a narcissist in terms of a classical definition. Stephanie Marsh used the Narcissistic  Personality Disorder description contained in the psychologists/psychiatrists Bible, the DSM-V as an assessment for Trump, concluding there was a match with various narcissistic traits. Dana Millbank, writing in the  Washington post, retrieved a number of Trump’s quotes from his campaign speech that could be illustrative of the criteria that Marsh cited: “I’m really proud of my success,” “I’ve done an amazing job.” Millbank also completed a content analysis of Trump’s campaign speech in which he was self-referenced 257 times.

The public in general and even management experts are hypocritical about what makes a good leader. On the one hand we exalt and praise leaders who are basically nasty and abusive because they are financially successful and on the other hand, research shows that humble leaders whose focus is to serve others are equally successful, but more importantly, capture the hearts and loyalty of others. Which do we value more?

So it seems that abusive, narcissistic bosses are alive and doing well in the business world (and politics), and even exalted by the media. This is in sharp contrast to the research showing that humble bosses actually perform better and are better for the organization.

Humble leaders are more effective and better liked, according to a study published in the Academy of Management Journal.   “Leaders of all ranks view admitting mistakes, spotlighting follower strengths and modeling teachability as being at the core of humble leadership,” says Bradley Owens, assistant professor of organization and human resources at the University at Buffalo School of Management. “And they view these three behaviors as being powerful predictors of their own as well as the organization’s growth.”

Rob Nielsen, author of Leading with Humility, argues that some narcissistic business leaders are treated like rock stars but leaders who are humble and admit mistakes outshine them all. There’s a difference between being a humble leader and being wishy-washy or overly solicitous of others’ opinions, says Arron Grow, associate program director of the School of Applied Leadership at the City University of Seattle and author of How to Not Suck as a Manager. He says being humble doesn’t mean being a chump and describes 6 ways in which leaders can be more effective by being more humble.  Elizabeth Salib takes up on this theme in her article in Harvard  Business Review,  contending the best leaders are humble leaders. She cites Google’s SVP of People Operations, Lazlo Bock, who says humility is one of the traits he’s looking for in new hires.

Fred Kiel, head of the executive development firm KRW international, recently studied 84 CEOs and more than 8,000 of their employees over the course of seven years. The results, written up in the Kiel’s recent book Return on character, found that people worked harder and happier when they felt valued and respected. So-called “character-driven” CEOs who possess four virtues—integrity, compassion, forgiveness, and accountability—lead companies whose returns on assets are five times larger than those of executives who are more self-centered, he found.

Harvard Business School’s Amy Cuddy and her research partners have also shown that leaders who project warmth–even before establishing their competence–are more effective than those who lead with their toughness and skill. Why? One reason is trust. Employees feel greater trust with someone who is kind.

Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the George Mason University School of Business examined what they call a “culture of compassionate love,” which involves feelings of affection, compassion, caring, and tenderness among co-workers at long-term care facilities. Though less intense than romantic love, the strong emotions involved still help create bonds between people. 16 months later the researchers checked in with each group. It turned out that a strong culture of compassionate love predicted benefits all around: less burnout, fewer unplanned absences, more teamwork, and higher work satisfaction for employees; fewer emergency room trips and higher mood, satisfaction, and quality of life for patients; and more satisfaction with the facility and willingness to recommend it for families. Research suggests that compassionate workplaces increase employee satisfaction and loyalty. A worker who feels cared for at work is more likely to experience positive emotion, which in turn helps to foster positive work relationships, increased cooperation, and better customer relations. Compassion training in individuals can reduce stress, and may even impact longevity. All of these point to a need for increasing compassion’s role in business and organizational life.

Social Intelligence: Understanding people

You can easily spot someone with lots of Social Intelligence at a party or social gathering because he or she knows how to “work the room.” The highly socially intelligent person can carry on conversations with a wide variety of people, and is tactful and appropriate in what is said. Combined, these represent what are called “social expressiveness skills.”

Oprah Winfrey has an ability called “Oprah effect”. It is her ability to make a connection with ordinary women and through that connection, she made herself one of the most popular women. In spite of her wealth, she had a public’s taste. She knew what ordinary women wanted, what their troubles were and what they were crazy about. People want to be around someone like themselves. They want a non-threatening person they can identify with. And Oprah has a lot of same problems that many of these women had and could relate to. Viewers had no trouble envisioning her sitting home at the kitchen table in sweats and no makeup, drinking coffee. This feeling of closeness was Oprah’s strongest point that made her a billionaire.

Social Intelligence: Organizational Tranformation

What makes an organization successful its people or its leaders? In many organizations it has been seen, especially where leaders are open to suggestions and follow an open door policy with employees, there is a greater willingness to change and adapt. Such organizations usually become more successful over a period of time.

Azim Premji was the chairman and CEO of Wipro technologies who transformed his father`s business from cooking oil producing industry to soaps and made a shift from soaps to software. He was a successful entrepreneur with high social intelligence and knew how to motivate people. He followed the open door policy where in employees could meet their senior supervisor without any invitation and discuss about the welfare of the organization. With his transformational approach, his employees used to work willingly for the benefit of the organization and could interact freely with the higher management to discuss future plans.

Social Intelligence: Anxiety vs. Productivity

We all have at some time in our lives felt anxious. Though, we may not have been consciously aware of what the effects our anxious state has on our work or other aspects of normal life. However, research in the area points that high anxiety shrinks the space available to our attention, it undermines our very capacity to take in new information, let alone generate fresh ideas.

Daniel Goleman in his book social intelligence writes – “The worst period I ever went through at work,” a friend confides, “was when the company was restructuring and people were being ‘disappeared’ daily, followed by lying memos that they were leaving ‘for personal reasons.’ No one could focus while that fear was in the air. No real work got done.” Small wonder. The greater the anxiety we feel, the more impaired is the brain’s cognitive efficiency.

In this zone of mental misery, distracting thoughts hijack our attention and squeeze our cognitive resources. Because high anxiety shrinks the space available to our attention, it undermines our very capacity to take in new information, let alone generate fresh ideas. Near-panic is the enemy of learning and creativity.

The neural highway for dysphoria runs from the amygdala to the right side of the pre-frontal cortex. As this circuitry activates, our thoughts fixate on what has triggered the distress. And as we become preoccupied by, say, worry or resentment, our mental agility sputters. Likewise, when we are sad activity levels in the pre-frontal cortex drop and we generate fewer thoughts. Extremes of anxiety and anger on the one hand, and sadness on the other, push brain activity beyond its zones for effectiveness.

Social Intelligence: Effects of fear

“Banish fear” was a slogan of the late quality-control guru W. Edwards Deming. He saw that fear froze a workplace: workers were reluctant to speak up, to share new ideas, or to coordinate well, let alone to improve the quality of their output.

You are driving to work, planning an important meeting with a colleague, and intermittently reminding yourself that you must remember to turn left at the traffic light, not right as usual, so you can drop your suit at the cleaners. Suddenly an ambulance screams up behind you, and you speed up to get out of the way. You feel your heart quicken. You try to resume planning the morning’s meeting, but your thoughts are disorganized now and you lose concentration, distracted. When you get to work, you berate yourself because you forgot to go to the cleaners.

This scenario comes not from some business primer but from the academic journal Science, as the beginning of an article called “The Biology of Being Frazzled.”The article summarizes the effects on thinking and performance caused by being mildly upset—frazzled from the hassles of daily life. “Frazzle” is a neural state in which emotional upsurges hamper the workings of the executive center.

While we are frazzled, we cannot concentrate or think clearly. That neural truth has direct implications for achieving the optimal emotional atmosphere both in the classroom and the office. From the vantage point of the brain, doing well in school and at work involves one and the same state, the brain’s sweet spot for performance. The biology of anxiety casts us out of that zone for excellence.