Leader narcissism and follower outcomes: The counterbalancing effect of leader humility. (2015)
“…data from followers and leaders working for a large health insurance organization showed that the interaction of leader narcissism and leader humility is associated with perceptions of leader effectiveness, follower job engagement, and subjective and objective follower job performance.”
Bradley P. Owens, Brigham Young University;
Angela S. Walker, State University of New York;
David A. Waldman Arizona State University
Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 100(4), Jul 2015, 1203-1213
“Steve Jobs was commonly seen as having a high level of narcissism. However, his second try as the head of Apple was marked with a tempered management style. For example, he was described as more open to others’ ideas and more willing to acknowledge past mistakes, even referring to his earlier firing from Apple as “awful tasting medicine . . . [that] the patient needed”. He expressed appreciation for the talented executives around him and was able to retain them.
“Although Jobs was still seen as narcissistic, his narcissism appeared to be counterbalanced or tempered with a measure of humility, and it was this tempered narcissist who led Apple to be the most valuable company in the world during his second attempt as company president.
“…(this) research examines how leader narcissism and humility interact to predict perceived leader effectiveness and follower (ie. direct-report) job engagement and performance.
“Although an examination of leaders who are narcissistic yet humble may seem oxymoronic and even paradoxical, researchers have suggested that seemingly contradictory personal attributes may exist simultaneously and may actually work together to produce positive outcomes.
“Results from survey data from followers and leaders working for a large health insurance organization showed that the interaction of leader narcissism and leader humility is associated with perceptions of leader effectiveness, follower job engagement, and subjective and objective follower job performance. Together, these results suggest that narcissistic leaders can have positive effects on followers when their narcissism is tempered by humility.”
Access the full paper here: Leader narcissism and follower outcomes