Calling someone a narcissist is usually taken as an insult but a new study suggests the label could be desirable for employers.
Researchers at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China have linked narcissistic personality traits to higher energy levels in the work place and were more well regarded by their supervisors.
People with more narcissistic personality traits also tended to take leadership roles more readily than other workers, whether asked or not, according to the researchers, led by Huazhong University’s Kong Zhou.
‘We argue that narcissistic employees usually have stronger internal motivations to release the potential energy stored in their bodies as to prove they are better than other employees,’ the team writes.
‘Hence, we predict that narcissistic employees may be more energized to exhibit taking-charge behavior in the workplace,’
The team based their research on interviews with 312 employees at a Chinese manufacturing company, according to a report in PsyPost.
The employees were each given a survey that asked them to rate how relevant a series of statements were to their own lives.
These included statements like ‘I have been compared to famous people,’ and ‘When I am at work I feel vital and alive.’
The researchers assigned varying degrees of narcissism to each employee based on their answers, and compared their responses to how their work supervisors viewed them.
Surprisingly, they found that people who exhibited more narcissistic personality traits tended to be more highly regarded by their superiors, and were more likely to be seen as taking the initiative in the work space.
According to the team, this dynamic could be fueled by the desire for status and esteem that many narcissists have.
The researchers suggest narcissistic employees ‘might have more psychological resource (e.g., perceptions of superiority over others and excessive demand for admiration) to make themselves feel energized at work.’
Past research has shown narcissists are also less likely to experience depression and exhibit higher levels of mental toughness.
A 2019 study from Queen’s University Belfast claimed narcissists were ‘horrible but happier’ people.
‘If a person is more mentally tough they are likely to embrace challenges head-on, rather than viewing them as a hurdle,’ Dr Kostas Papageorgiou of Queen’s University Belfast said in a 2019 interview.
‘While of course not all dimensions of narcissism are good, certain aspects can lead to positive outcomes.’