When Assholes Finish First

assholes finish first

Being A Jerk Has Its Benefits

A new article in Big Think speculates that the best CEO’s are highly narcissistic:

A new study on the habits of highly effective CEOs suggests that narcissistic personalities do better at bringing their companies into line with the latest innovations.

Why? Because leadership and narcissism go together.

It stands to reason that narcissistic personalities may indulge their own vision of the world more which may result in bold and forward thinking. Confidence matters a lot, after all.

In his newest book Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman makes repeated references to the disproportional effect over-confident people have in our lives.

The Advantages of Overconfidence

If most people have muddling opinions of their own abilities, they’ll shirk away from having to make important decisions because they’re afraid they’ll mess things up. To some degree this is healthy. However, in that situation the over-confident (or ignorant) will have an easier path to the top than their abilities will merit. The unsuspecting peasants assume the narcissist must have remarkable qualities to warrant such confidence, and the narcissist takes the approval of the helpless peasants as proof of his remarkable abilities.

My guess is that positions of power are strongly self-selecting for delusional people. (And yes, that probably includes your favorite talking head.) It might also explain why men are over-represented in positions of power. Women are smart enough to recognize their limitations, and men have more extreme personality traits, which will heavily skew the distribution in favor of men for positions that require extreme qualities.

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What Others Have To Say

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About Jonathan Bechtel

Owner of Health Kismet, maker of Incredible Greens, a green superfood supplement that combines 35 different raw greens, herbs, probiotics, grasses and fruits into a sweet tasting powder.


  1. Sadly, I think you’re right that sometimes the most dominant people are the most successful, not because of their skill but simply because they’re dominant. Personally, I don’t envy them. I used to for a while, but have acquired peace w/ simply living a quiet, ordinary, but fulfilling life.

  2. So does this also validate the term Nice Guys Finish Last?

  3. Jonathan Bechtel says:

    @John, I agree that being visible and successful is vastly different from being content and happy. I’d rather take the latter too.@GR2: I hope not! I also think the situation described above applies to a fairly unique situation. In general (all else being equal), nice guys have a shot too 🙂

  4. Kristy Thomas says:

    @John… nice guys finish last, but so do nice girls! Unfortunately. 🙁

  5. Jonathan Bechtel says:

    @Kristy….woah! Come on, nice people get around all right….at least a little bit, right?

  6. Haha NO nice people finish LAST, but at least they still finish at some point. I also believe that they come out BETTER in the end 🙂

  7. Jonathan Bechtel says:

    Well Kay, that’s at least a little less pessimistic than other people here.

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