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Narcissistic force meets systemic resistance: The energy clash model. (2017)

“…conceptualizes the impact of a narcissistic leader in three phases, and discusses six ways for harnessing the positive sides of narcissistic energy..”

Constantine Sedikides, University of Southampton, UK; W. Keith Campbell, University of Georgia.
Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1-58. (May 2017).

From the Abstract

This article focuses on the interplay between narcissistic leaders and organizations. It attempts to capture the essence of this interplay with a model outlining the trajectory of narcissism within the organization – the Energy Clash Model.

This model adapts a metaphor from physics, conceptualizing narcissism as a force (a leader) that enters or emerges in a stable system (an organization), destabilizes it, and either stabilizes it at a different state or is expelled.

The model consists of three time-contingent phases: perturbation, conflict, and resolution.

Perturbation: narcissists create instability through waves of excitement, proposed reforms, and an inspiring vision for organization’s future

Conflict: however with the passage of time, systemic awareness and alertness intensify, as organizational costs – in terms of human resources and monetary losses – accrue. Narcissistic energy clashes directly with the organization, a clash likely to restabilize the system eventually

Resolution: the conflict may provoke the exit of the narcissistic leader or his or her accommodation, that is, steps or controls negotiated between the system and the leader.

Although narcissism is subject to organizational liability, when managed and directed properly, narcissistic energy may contribute to organizational innovation and evolution. Thus, several interventions for working with narcissistic leaders are discussed.

Some can be at the structural or systemic level, such as implementing systemic checks and balances via accountability, instituting synergistic leadership, and increasing leader-organization identification. Other tactics can be at the individual or interpersonal level. These include introducing micro-interventions, initiating personal development through coaching, and strengthening the leader-employee fit.

Access the full paper here: Narcissistic force meets systemic resistance

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  1. Thomas Evans says:

    One sees this phenomena play out in nature. When an Alpha wolf makes decisions that endanger his/her subordinates they cast him out of the pack.