Arrogance makes you a good CEO

By Mieke Vlok
27 January 2014

Love yourself? Be the boss! Narcissism is the recipe for success

Thinking you’re the cat’s whiskers doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person. In fact, being full of yourself could ensure you success.

And being a slight psychopath may be just what you need to take over the business world.

New studies by American researchers show a little bit of narcissism is what makes successful business leaders stand out in the corporate world, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Studies by the Universities of Nebraska and Illinois, and the personality testing firm Hogan Assessment, show those who crave power and making a name for themselves are inclined to become business leaders.

The study will appear in the journal Personnel Psychology and studied 54 existing studies on narcissism.

In opinion polls, people were asked whether they identified with statements such as “If I ruled the world, it would be a better place” and “I am special”.

Correspondence by the CEOs of large corporations was also examined.  The number of times they mentioned themselves to shareholders, or used the words “I” and “mine” instead of “we” – and the size of their photographs – all revealed how much many business leaders think of themselves.

Hogan Assessment uses a scale from one 100 to determine how narcissistic someone is. If you’re between 70 and 90, you have what the researchers call “true self-confidence” and you narcissism is just enough to make you confident in your abilities.

If you score above 90, however, you’re plain arrogant.

“When things go wrong they blame other people, and when things go right they take all the credit,” tester Rodney Warrenfeltz says of those who score above 90 on the scale.

Peter Harms, a project leader in the University of Nebraska’s study, concentrates on “dark character traits” and says characteristics such as psychopathy and   Machiavellianism are valuable in small quantities.

“’A little psychopathy often results in courage and Machiavellianism provides you with political abilities.”

There are business executives who achieve success with humility and meekness, however, and the study also looked at the least narcissistic leaders in America.

The head of the store group Target, Gregg Steinhafel, Donald Thompson of McDonalds and Pepsi head Indra K. Noovi are among the top 10 most humble business leaders in the country.

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