From Humble Leader to Narcissist: Where Are You on the Continuum?

From Humble Leader to Narcissist: Where Are You on the Continuum?

Typically, narcissism is historically associated with physical beauty.

You may recall that in Greek mythology, Narcissus was the handsome young man who became so enchanted with the image of himself in the pool that he could not pull away.

Today we hear about a leader who has narcissistic tendencies, but it’s not so much about their physical beauty as their strong, offensive ego.

Where do fit on the narcissistic leadership continuum? Pinpoint your spot –

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Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is the Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in team building, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Ter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

L2L Contributing Author


  1. Doug on March 16, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    Lee, I enjoyed your views on narcissism and found them interesting and helpful. My experience with this issue comes from a different perspective and generally plays out in organizations in unhealthy (even harmful) ways. In my experience, it is not simply a matter of low or high self esteem levels as both can be masked in a narcissistic persona. Much the same way insecurity can manifest as toughness, bravado or superiority. From a higher state of awareness, once we get over ourselves, narcissism which is generally blended with denial and self deception in my opinion is typically recognized (or not) as a major obstacle to achieving authenticity. And, while our DNA predisposes us to a variety of irrational and self defeating behaviors, I am not sure that we are as hard wired in these areas as the scientific materialists would have us believe.

    It is hard to get into the “good/bad” leader arena as definitions of the terms are all over the place and these words are so overused as to make these discussions highly subjective and problematic at best. Or, as they say in DC, “where you stand depends on where you sit.” Given the sorry state of leadership (the research seems clear here) and the difficulty of being authentically effective in the “new normal” today, higher state worldviews of leadership would most likely see narcissism as a consequence of a lower stage of consciousness growth masking itself in clever garments so we can go on pretending that we are not pretending. My option and I could be wrong. Thanks for the learnings. – Doug

    • Lee Ellis on March 17, 2016 at 8:56 am

      Doug – thanks for your insightful comments and experience on the topic. It’s definitely true and natural as well as learned behaviors both play an important role in a leader’s level of narcissistic tendencies. And I like your comment about authenticity. As you begin to take that authentic journey into knowing yourself, your unique strengths and struggles become more specific and crystallized. Thanks again