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.”
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou
The realization may come over time, or it can occur as the result of a single critical incident. You have a poor-fit player in a key management or project position.
Consider the many ways poor-fit talent can make their presence known. For example:
• Under-performance due to skill deficits
• Inability or unwillingness to act on performance feedback
• Counterproductive – or toxic – personality traits
• Lack of alignment with the organization’s core strategy or culture
• Increased interpersonal or departmental conflict
“This is interesting,” said the CEO, studying the whiteboard we’d filled with a detailed position profile. Hank, I, and several board directors were updating his company’s succession plans in light of his expected retirement in two years. Updating his own position profile – role, responsibilities, and success criteria – was key to identifying possible internal candidates for his job.
“Our business has changed drastically in the past eighteen months,” Hank noted. “We have more overseas suppliers, more regulation to contend with here and abroad, and more strategic alliances to manage.” He shook his head in mild disbelief. “If I were looking for someone to fill my shoes now, I probably wouldn’t hire myself.”
“Mastering the New Normal” – A Continuing Series
“My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people.”
– Jack Welch, Former CEO, General Electric
The best leaders make a priority of talent grooming in good times and bad because the alternatives- just-in-time recruitment or premature promotion- are too risky.
They proactively guard against Talent Risks that can compromise top- and bottom-line performance.
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.