5 Warning Signs of Narcissistic Leadership

4. Needs Adoration

Everyone wants to be liked. Most people will change behavior to some degree if they believe it will make them better liked. Narcissistic leaders need adoration. When they receive criticism, especially from staff or colleagues, they tend to react in two ways. First, they may become defensive and reactionary. Perceived offenses are met with negativity and bullying. This won’t make the offender like them, but it might make them fear the leader—which is often an acceptable substitute. Conversely, the narcissistic leader may respond emotionally. The leader employs tears, pleas and emotional manipulation so that the critic feels bad for speaking up. He or she will think twice the next time.

Do you find yourself being motivated by pleasing others or garnering attention and compliments? How can you shift your thinking to place a higher value on who you are in Christ?

5. Lacks Empathy

Most characteristically, the narcissistic leader lacks empathy. His chief concerns are their goals, mission and reputation. Narcissistic leaders are willing to sacrifice people on the altar of ego. Unfortunately, most of the time they don’t even realize that there is a trail of emotionally damaged people in their wake. As a church leader, this is the most dangerous aspect of narcissism. God has called us to love one another. When we filter our lives through the lens of ego, we become blind to the spiritual need that demands our full attention.

Is there a high turnover rate within the teams you lead? Is there a chance that others do not want to serve with you or under you because they feel you value performance over people?

Narcissism is easy to see in others but hard to see in ourselves. However, the success of our leadership depends on our ability to know ourselves, so step back. Think objectively. Are you showing any of the five warning signs.

Your leadership may depend on it.

Note: This post originally published at ScottBall.net on July 24, 2015, and on The Malphurs Group Blog on August 18, 2015.  

Previous articleWhy Should Ministry Veterans Mentor Young Men?
Next article8 Dangerous Leadership Traits—These Will Wreck Your Ability to Lead
Scott Ball is a writer, thinker, communicator, and consultant in the area of church leadership and church planting. He resides in East Tennessee with his wife Allison, son Liam, and daughter Norah. Read more of Scott’s content at ScottBall.net or follow him on Twitter @scottrball or Facebook (facebook.com/scottball.net).