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Leadership mistakes you don't want to make

The case of the narcissistic leader


Most of the time leadership is understood by understanding what makes successful leaders 'good'. However, what if we look at the ‘dark side' of leadership and explore what it is exactly that defines an unethical leader?

Narcissism is key to understanding unethical leadership. Narcissists tend to be attracted to leadership positions.

In this article we look into the six distinctive characteristics of an unethical narcissistic leader.

The study, ‘’, from , proved six distinctive characteristics of an unethical narcissistic leader. Are you guilty of any of these traits?

Image: One way communication.

One way communication

Narcissistic leaders can often be opposed to new ideas suggested by their team and will often be defensive when questioned about their decisions. They see themselves as superior and are likely to act in anger and rage when things don’t go their way.

Image: One way control of power.

One way control of power

A narcissist undermines the others and expresses themselves in an authoritarian manner. They like to believe they have the power over others and find it difficult to share this power or delegate it with their team.

Image: Insensitive to others.

Insensitive to others

Unethical charismatic leaders are insensitive and unresponsive to followers’ needs and aspirations. They persistently criticize followers, use sarcasm to belittle others, and repeatedly refuse reasonable requests.

Image: Unrealistic assessment of the environment.

Unrealistic assessment of the environment

Narcissistic leaders offer unrealistic assessments of their environment in order to win another party over through the distortion of reality. They like to exaggerate in order to draw attention away from flaws in their ideas.

Image: Manipulative behaviours.

Manipulative behaviours

Narcissists tend to manipulate others by exaggerating their past actions and making false promises for the future. They distort events in order to justify their choices and actions in order to help them ‘get ahead’.

Image: Pseudotransformational behaviours.

Pseudotransformational behaviours

This form of behaviour is shown when leaders claim to be Concerned about the collective unit, but privately they are concerned about the good they can achieve for themselves. They focus on the worst in people rather than the best.


If you would like to discuss any of the content on this page, please contact:

Image: Priya Dharni.
Priya Dharni

Icon: Envelope. [email protected]



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