Most of us think of narcissistic bosses or co-workers as nightmare scenarios. These folks are usually dealing with an extreme personality disorder. And it’s exhibited by making excessive demands on employees and co-workers.
Then there’s everyday narcissism, as discussed by Nancy Van Dyken. If you’re suffering from this problem, it could be seriously impacting your ability to lead your team. Here’s what to look for.
How Everyday Narcissism Starts
Van Dyken believes that many of us are set on the path to everyday narcissism by our parents. The childhood experiences your parents guided you through might have taught you a myth. That myth is all about believing “we have the power and the responsibility to control how other people feel and behave.”
As a manager, when we hold this belief, we spend too much time trying to make people feel better about their jobs. We think that if we just give an employee what they want – whether it’s a promotion or a new job title – they’ll be happier. Once they’re happier, we believe we’ve got the power to make them stay with the company.
There might be some truth to this belief. But, it’s easy to get carried away. If you spend too much time trying to make specific employees happy, you might lose sight of important goals or objectives.
How Everyday Narcissism Infects Your Team Interactions
Another myth Van Dyken discusses centers on how well you control your emotions. As an everyday narcissist, you may be carrying the wrong attitude into the workplace. If you believe your team members and employees are responsible for how you feel, you’ve got a problem. The issue, says Van Dyken, is that your expectations are out of whack. It comes down to you thinking “if I take care of you, you’re supposed to take care of me.”
Let’s return to our previous example. Suppose the employee you gave a new job title to has decided to leave the company after all. Your response is not good. You might accuse the person of manipulating you. You might show your anger by screaming or throwing your coffee mug at the wall. Your behavior stems from your belief that the employee owes you something. Now you’re upset because this employee didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. Really? Step back and remove your emotion from the situation.
What has really happened? You tried to impose your will on an employee. And that employee didn’t want to play your game. Was your true goal to launch a product that would make your company and, by extension, you, a bigger success? If so, the truth is that your everyday narcissism is making every situation about you all the time.
Only you have the power to change that.