Narcissists boss their way to top

If your boss is ruthless, selfish, vain and lacking social skills, it should come as no surprise, according to new research.

Many managers recruited to top jobs suffer from a narcissistic personality disorder, scientists say
Many managers recruited to top jobs suffer from a narcissistic personality disorder, scientists say

According to scientists, many managers recruited to top jobs suffer from a narcissistic personality disorder.

As such they are brimming with self confidence, dynamic, and prepared to take tough decisions - just the qualities likely to impress at high-level interviews.

But their self-serving, inconsiderate nature also means they may not be the best leaders.

"People with narcissistic personality disorders will be interested in dominance, status, recognition, power and admiration," said researcher Christian Gimso, from the BI Norwegian Business School. "They may not think twice about using others to achieve their goals.

"Leaders who score high on narcissistic traits lack the ability to relate to others. They run their own agenda with no thought for the people around them. This can mean poor leadership performance."

Mr Gimso conducted a study of 3,200 candidates applying for leadership training at Norwegian armed forces officer schools.

Candidates had to undergo a structured standardised interview designed to assess leadership potential.

As part of the study, they were also given a personality test that measured narcissistic traits.

Those who scored highly for narcissism also did well in the admission interviews and were more likely to be accepted as officer cadets.

Narcissists gravitate to positions that can feed their hunger for power and status, said Mr Gimso.

The findings supported the idea that they are good at getting themselves picked for such jobs.

"The study indicates that candidates with a high degree of narcissistic traits do better in the admission interview than candidates with a lower degree of narcissism," Mr Gimso added. "They are also more likely to be admitted."

He made a number of recommendations for screening out the narcissists at job interviews. They included treating candidates as equally as possible, using multiple assessment tools, and looking for unwanted as well as desirable qualities.