Entrepreneurs Could Be Narcissists, Says A 2021 Research Study
Narcissists find comfort in entrepreneurship and leadership.
Full of I, me, and myself in my top shelf (brain), could define a narcissist in a funny yet thought-provoking manner. I believe that narcissistic traits come and go sporadically in each and every one of us. But as the saying goes ‘too much of anything is good for nothing’, narcissists are full of themselves all the time, day in and day out, to the point where it is evident that something’s not okay with them.
The term “narcissism” derives from the ancient Greek story of “narcissus,” in which a man fell deeply in love with himself and succumbed to inescapable self-appreciation and love. Ellis (1898) invented the term “narcissism” to describe a pathological form of self-focus.
Narcissism is defined as a personality spectrum consisting of grandiosity, self-love, inflated self-views, entitlement, and preoccupation with success and achievement.
What makes an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur is not an easy feat. It requires tremendous amounts of self-confidence, assertiveness, the ability to constantly look at the bigger picture of the business, choosing the right crew to work with, quick decision making, and intelligent micromanagement of the business. Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Jack Ma certainly have all the above-said traits and much more. The illustration below displays the personalities an entrepreneur must possess so as to excel in the chosen business area. These are known as the ‘Big Five’ personalities. This OCEAN-acronym of the Big 5 personalities-personality model is used by some businesses to assess people during interviews to recruit the most suitable candidates for the job.
Here’s a tweet by Elon Musk where he gave a sarcastic come back at Dr. Grohol’s tweet that he might be a narcissist.
In recent years, researchers have been concerned about entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial skills, knowledge, and abilities, the Big Five personality traits and entrepreneurial behavior, and emotions, attitude, and culture have all been studied in the past. Despite the growing popularity and importance of narcissism in business sectors, few studies on the relationship between narcissism and entrepreneurship have been done.
Narcissism affects every stage of the entrepreneurial process, including how entrepreneurs locate, analyze, and capitalize on opportunities. When compared to their non-entrepreneurial colleagues, entrepreneurs have more proactive and risk-taking mindsets. This demonstrates how differences in personality influence business ambitions and performance.
1. Narcissism and entrepreneurial ambition
Narcissists constantly seek praise and attention from others, as well as authority and power, while taking risks to attain larger benefits and successes, since they believe they are superior to, smarter than, and more attractive than others. Entrepreneurship may be an efficient strategy for narcissists to meet these motivational demands. Individuals with high levels of narcissism are thus more likely to manage themselves through fast life techniques, such as increasing their entrepreneurial goals and choosing entrepreneurship.
2. Narcissism and opportunity recognition
The need for self-enhancement, need for praise and admiration from others, and concern for self may prevent narcissists from using the human resources of those around them in the opportunity discovery process, which has a negative impact on opportunity discovery. There were two key causes behind this. First, narcissistic people believe they are superior to others and have a sense of entitlement. As a result, they are unwilling to hear from others unless the voice of others confirms the narcissist’s self-enhancing nature.
Another explanation is that narcissistic people are reluctant to any criticism directed towards them or discovered opportunities in order to protect and promote their grandiose egos, even if the criticism is beneficial for refining the opportunity.
3. Narcissism and risk-taking
Most narcissistic entrepreneurs are eager for success. Their personalities are more risk-taking since they are radical, aggressive, determined, and completely self-assured. This is due to two major factors. From a psychological standpoint, narcissists have better self-esteem and self-evaluation. Because of their inflated self-esteem, they overestimate their actual capabilities and abilities while underestimating the challenges and difficulties of business operations.
Furthermore, because of this psychological tendency, they are more optimistic about business profits and have higher risk tolerance. As a result, individuals are more likely to be attracted to projects with high risk and great payoff.
Narcissists continuously seek praise and attention from others, desiring a sense of superiority and power, which gives them a higher risk tolerance. Thus, despite the fact that entrepreneurship is intrinsically dangerous, narcissists are more ready to engage in it in order to receive the social attention and power that entrepreneurship offers.
4. Narcissism and learning from failure
When faced with failure, highly narcissistic entrepreneurs try to maintain their big positive self-view and high but weak self-esteem by selectively reacting to facts and cues that confirm their original visions.
Furthermore, they may not believe that information obtained from others is valuable. Also, narcissistic entrepreneurs often use external-attribution ego-defensive methods to conceal or justify their own failures. This tendency can also inhibit critical thinking and is unsuitable for learning from failure. Because of their innate sense of superiority and arrogance, narcissists may be difficult to recognize failure or to quit failing actions.
5. Being a narcissistic entrepreneur is not always bad
Researchers often see narcissism as a negative personality trait since previous research has connected it to ego, self-centeredness, emotional coldness, lack of compassion, insensitivity, dishonesty, exploitation, aggressiveness, and deceptive practices. Indeed, it has a wide range of negative consequences that can hurt both individuals and organizations.
However, contrary to popular opinion, this research study demonstrated that narcissism does not always necessarily result in poor outcomes. It may assist some narcissistic entrepreneurs in achieving their desired positions, increasing their creative self and desires, and identifying business prospects.
The researchers say that a big deal of further research is needed in this area to investigate the relationships between narcissism and entrepreneurship-related factors from a different vantage point and at the team level, examine the relationship between narcissism and entrepreneurship ethics, and investigate the interaction effects of narcissism and other personalities.
Let me conclude with a thoughtful quote.
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