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.