It is the unspoken curse stalking corporate South Africa. Few people talk about it but many executives encounter it and may be vaguely – or acutely – aware of the danger to organisations and careers.
The potentially toxic issue is corporate narcissism and its personification, the corporate narcissist.
Psychologists, consultants and corporate head-hunters have been aware of the issue for many years, though it came into sharp focus internationally following the 2008 financial crisis as the egotism of some business leaders may have paved the way to the Great Recession.
Specialists describe corporate narcissism as a corporate culture characterised by excessive pride, leading to destructive behaviour and strategies that boost personal egos rather than a company’s long-term prospects.
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It is often found in large firms, especially those with clear hierarchies as corporate narcissists favour structures that support their power and protect their position.
One chartered psychologist notes negative correlation with honesty and humility, yet positive correlation with openness and extroversion.
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