Unmasking the Office Narcissist: The Hidden Impact of NPD in the Workplace
People diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) may exhibit behaviors that create challenges within the workplace. Many psychologists say they are seeing epidemic numbers of NPD cases in our society and the workplace today. These behaviors are not uniform across all individuals with NPD, but they can pose significant risks. Here's a detailed breakdown of some potential issues:
1. Manipulative Conduct and Exploitation: Those with NPD often desire power and influence. They may employ manipulative tactics or exploit colleagues to further their agenda. Such behavior fosters a toxic environment and disregards the professional growth and well-being of others.
2. Empathy Deficit and Indifference to Others: Individuals with NPD typically struggle to empathize emotionally or recognize others' viewpoints. This lack of understanding can lead to dismissiveness or outright mistreatment, cultivating a hostile and demoralizing atmosphere.
3. Challenges in Team Collaboration: An inflated self-view often accompanies NPD, leading to a belief in personal superiority. This superiority can manifest in an inability to collaborate, as those with NPD may reject others' contributions or attempt to overshadow group discussions. The resultant friction can impair team dynamics and provoke conflicts.
4. Sensitivity to Criticism and Feedback: People with NPD are often acutely sensitive to critique. Responses may range from defensiveness to aggression, impeding the flow of constructive feedback, stifling personal and professional growth, and fostering a fearful, silent culture.
5. Avoidance of Responsibility: A common trait of those with NPD is a reluctance to accept blame or responsibility. The employee with NPD ignores mistakes or blame-shifts the failing onto others, undermining trust and hindering accountability within a team or organization.
6. Sabotage and Undermining Behavior: Feeling threatened by others' success or acclaim, individuals with NPD may resort to covert or open tactics to undermine or sabotage colleagues. Such actions erode teamwork, create toxicity, and obstruct productivity and progression.
7. Variability in Severity: It's crucial to recognize that not all individuals with NPD will display these behaviors, and even when present, their intensity can vary. However, if the person with NPD consistently and substantially displays four or more of these traits, they can detrimentally affect the workplace and the emotional well-being of colleagues.
Understanding and awareness of these aspects are crucial to fostering a healthy work environment. It may require tailored management strategies and professional mental health support to address these challenges effectively, ensuring a cohesive and positive workplace for all involved.
About the Author
John Seville is an entrepreneurial technology and business leader. He has successfully launched four businesses during his career: Computer Consultants of Colorado, Chief Technology Consultants, (the) Center for Transformative Coaching, and his most recent venture, Ascent Leadership Group, which he started in 2018 and serves as the Managing Principal. In addition to his entrepreneurial ventures, John has served in multiple corporate CIO and COO roles. In 2013, the Denver Business Journal (DBJ) and the Society for Information Management (SIM) nominated John for the Colorado CIO of the Year award. Connect with John by emailing him at john.seville@AscentLeadershipGroup.com