Narcissistic leadership

I love Jeff Foxworthy. For those of you who haven’t come across him, or have not heard his jokes in a while, Jeff is a stand-up comedian who’s ‘claim to fame’ is that he jokes about rednecks, and they sound something like this:

“you might be a redneck if you mow your lawn and you find a car” or “if you find this funny, you may be a redneck” and then proceeds to say, “if you see a sign that reads ‘say no to crack’ and it reminds you to pull your pants up.”

Before you get offended because these may be considered politically incorrect jokes, the point I want to make is that sometimes people can be classified by a particular behavior. It doesn’t necessarily mean that if one of these applies to you, you are a redneck, but these are behaviors that a certain type of person reverts to. So what?

I was thinking about work, and a recent encounter sparked some thinking. Do narcissists know that they are behaving narcissistically? And do you know when you have been ambushed by a narcissist? Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a real, serious disorder. It should not be dismissed but taken seriously.

Perhaps there are a couple of tag lines, like the ones Jeff Foxworthy uses to point out redneck behavior, indicating that you are possibly dealing with a narcissist. Or if you have ever wondered if you may be a narcissist. So, in true Jeff Foxworthy style, here goes…

  • You might be a narcissist if you have a grandiose image of yourself. This means you have an unrealistic sense of superiority
  • If you manipulate people to further your own selfish goals, you may be a narcissist
  • You may be a narcissist if you constantly exaggerate your achievements while you belittle the input of others
  • If you have a sense of entitlement, you might be a narcissist
  • If you attack, insult, or bully people for personal satisfaction, you may be a narcissist
  • If you are always the undisputed star in every story and you think other people are just in your way, you might be a narcissist
  • You may very well be a narcissist if you force people back in line by threatening them

If you experience someone displaying multiple of these behaviors consistently, you may be dealing with a narcissist.

  • He/She is demanding and unreasonable all the time
  • He/She uses contempt as a defense mechanism
  • He/She befriends people only to prop up their insatiable ego
  • He/She neutralizes perceived threats by putting people down
  • He/She is patronizing and dismissive
  • He/She is in constant need of praise and admiration
  • He/She only associate with high-status people and let others know that they are not worthy of their attention
  • He/She elaborates on how much they contribute towards work
  • He/She exploit others without guilt or shame (either maliciously or obliviously)
  • He/She is patronizing or dismissive
  • He/She accepts no blame for their errors and failures

Dealing with a narcissist is not always easy. People who suffer from this disorder do not care how far they go to break you down. They spread rumors about your competence, and they will go so far as to threaten your livelihood or existence in severe cases. It is much easier to believe that you are not good enough or that you are at fault.

Below are some tips on what you could do to take care of yourself.

  • Don’t fall for the fantasy – it is not real. A narcissist can be very charming and creates a flattering self-image that draws you in. It will not last. They will use you to reach their goals and then discard you
  • Don’t look the other way when a narcissist mistreats others. Speak up, because eventually, they will treat you the same way
  • Set healthy boundaries and focus on your own dreams. Don’t get lost in their storyline.
  • If you are prone to allowing abuse, and have a history of letting others violate your boundaries, consider getting help. Determine what has worked with narcissists in the past and focus on that behavior
  • Don’t take the abuse and patronizing behavior personally. It is them, not you. Refuse to accept undeserved blame or criticism
  • Don’t argue with a narcissist. Tongue in cheek, they will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience… but seriously, no matter how rational your argument is, they are simply unlikely to listen to you
  • Don’t expect approval or support from them
  • Look for help and purpose elsewhere

And when all else fails, remove yourself from the situation. Cut all ties with the person. If you have been physically threatened, seek professional help, or go to the emergency services. This is not a joke.

I want to caution the reader here, though, please avoid labeling people – we have all had bad days and misbehaved on at some point in our lives for reasons other than NPD, and it does not automatically qualify you as a narcissist. However, if someone is consistently conforming to numerous of these behaviors that there might be a problem.

If you have concluded that you are potentially suffering from NPD, which is not an easy thing to do, please seek professional help. Treatment is available.

Lastly, I am not a qualified professional and cannot diagnose NPD.