If you’ve been in the workplace for any period of time, you’ve probably encountered someone who fits the description of a Productive Narcissist. In fact, you might have even hired the person yourself, unaware that certain personality traits would turn your star performer into a costly management “black hole.”
“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” – William James
Effective leaders get results with and through other people – employees, customers, clients, vendors and the general public.
Those with a track record of longevity balance healthy ambition with gratitude. They make Gratitude a core value in building their organizations, their culture, and their professional and business brands. I call them Type-G leaders for short.
Americans now work 8.5 hours more per week than they did in 1979. Office workers spend more than a quarter of each day writing and responding to e-mails. And nearly one-third of working adults get six hours or less of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
This bias to overwork, however, is not the route to innovation, optimal decision making or peak performance. Instead of “leaning in,” research on creativity and productivity tells us to “lean back” for competitive advantage.
Finally, there’s an evidence-based case for “less being more.”
Five Ways to “Lean Back” for Success
- Observe the 90-Minute Rule. Extensive research on peak performers ranging from athletes to musicians shows that working in 90-minute intervals maximizes productivity. This is because we move from a state of alertness progressively into fatigue approximately every 90 minutes.
- Include a “Do Nothing” Option. When making decisions , especially after lengthy deliberation and discussion, be sure to include a “Do Nothing” option. Adding this option to choices has been shown to correct the tendency towards a bias to action and doing more.
- Go for a Walk. Stanford researchers found that walking increases creativity substantially and with lingering post-activity effects. And it does not matter whether walking is indoors on a treadmill or outdoors.
- Take a Nap. A 60- to 90-minute nap improved memory test results as well as eight hours of sleep in research conducted at the University of California, Riverside. In another study, when air traffic controllers were given 40 minutes to nap, they performed much better on tests that measured vigilance and reaction speed.
- Get More Sleep. Studies show that lack of sleep is the single strongest predictor of job burnout. Increased sleep, on the other hand, has been shown to significantly increase physical and mental performance.
Working Smart in the New Normal
“Leaning back” involves a radical re-thinking of how to elevate individual, team and organizational performance in our 24/7 business world. The smart money is on strategic investment of time and energy. Leaders need to set a tone at the top with their own values and actions in promoting a culture of high-value time utilization and regular personal renewal.
“Your business plan is what you are, but Culture is who you are.”
– Gary Kelly, Chairman and CEO, Southwest Airlines
Every organization has a culture, sometimes referred to as its personality or organizational DNA. An organization’s culture grows out of the values, behaviors and norms that its top management encourages, rewards or – in some cases – simply allows to exist.
Key Point. Research has long shown that organizational culture has a significant impact on bottom-line performance.
For instance, a comparative study of high versus low-performance corporate cultures by John Kotter and James Hesket in 1992 found revenue growth of 682 percent versus 166 percent, stock price increases of 901 percent versus 74 percent, and job growth of 282 percent versus 36 percent.
Do I have your attention now?
To recap, my definition of a Productive Narcissist (PN) is someone who, on the one hand, possesses exceptional abilities – such as creativity, intellectual firepower or rainmaking prowess – and, on the other, pronounced narcissistic personality traits. PNs are notable for their sense of entitlement, excessive ego, self-absorption and constant need for attention and recognition.