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Commentary: Why humble narcissists make the most effective leaders

7 1 362

SINGAPORE: In a business world dominated by disruption and uncertainty, firms need effective leaders in order to survive and thrive.

Faced with constant and rapid change, leaders must deploy many skills and qualities at the same time.

In management research, one model of leader that has recently drawn growing attention is the concept of the humble narcissist.

On the surface, these attributes might seem paradoxical – two disparate attributes at opposite ends of the spectrum. But this apparent contradiction is also key to understanding their effectiveness in leadership situations.


Psychologists view extreme narcissism as a serious mental disorder. However, many people – particularly those in leadership positions – have a degree of subclinical narcissism, often in the form of craving attention and recognition from others.

Narcissists of this kind have grand visions, love taking risks, are highly charismatic and can attract big groups of followers in a short time.

Indeed, research suggests levels of narcissism have been on the rise in recent years, suggesting that most of us may be more or less narcissistic. This could be due to growing competitive pressures in the workplace, where many see prominent performance and self-promotion as keys to career advancement.

But when big egos are left unchecked, they can also create extreme fluctuations in company performance and do serious damage.

The story of high-flying Chinese entrepreneur Jia Yueting and Le.com is one such example. Jia certainly had ambition and grand visions, claiming he could build an ecosystem with better electric cars than Tesla, better........

© Channel NewsAsia