Menu Search

CEO humility, narcissism and firm innovation: A paradox perspective on CEO traits. (2017)

“CEOs that are both humble and narcissistic are … more likely to have socialized charisma, to cultivate an innovative culture, and to deliver innovative performance…”

Hongyu Zhang, Central University of Finance and Economics, China: Amy Y. Ou, National University of Singapore: Anne S. Tsui, University of Notre Dame, USA; Peking University and Fudan University, China: Hui Wang, Peking University, China

The Leadership Quarterly, Volume 28, Issue 5, October 2017, Pages 585-604

“Innovation … is widely regarded as a critical source of competitive advantage for firm survival and success…

“CEOs are essential for driving innovation. Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple was publicly lauded for successfully leading innovation, whereas Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, CEO of Nokia, was dismissed for failing to do so.

“What differences might allow CEOs to successfully promote innovation? Perhaps the driving force is proactive personality, quest for gaining future attention, or self-directive values?

“We examine whether two seemingly contradictory yet potentially complementary CEO traits, humility and narcissism, may interact to affect a CEO’s ability to drive innovation.

“We … propose that individuals can have paradoxical traits and that, in particular, humility and narcissism can coexist harmoniously, especially among the Chinese, whose philosophical tradition embraces paradoxical thinking and behaving.

“CEOs that are both humble and narcissistic are hypothesized to be more likely to have socialized charisma, to cultivate an innovative culture, and to deliver innovative performance…

“Two empirical studies provide preliminary support to our proposed paradox perspective that humility and narcissism interact to enhance CEO effectiveness in promoting firm innovation…

“Recruiters have traditionally favored larger-than-life or narcissistic CEOs … Selecting applicants who are simultaneously humble and narcissistic may be a beneficial alternative, at least in East Asian contexts where psychological contradictions are well accepted…

“Paradoxical traits may be particularly beneficial for senior executives who are likely to face complex and potentially conflicting role requirements in increasingly dynamic environments.”

Access the full paper here: CEO humility, narcissism and firm innovation

Leave a comment

Back to the top
We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't accept comments that are unsubstantiated, unnecessarily abusive or may expose the Trust in any way. All contributions are moderated before being published.

Comments are closed.