We humans love a strong leader and we’ve seen plenty of them recently. The strong men of popular politics, in societies all around the world.
But other evidence can be brought to bear.
Grandiose, entitled, overly self-confident, risk-seeking, manipulative, and hostile leaders, say O’Reilly and Chatman, have profiles matching what the American Psychiatric Association classifies as narcissistic personality disorder. People with these characteristics are often those to whom we hand the highest power, the biggest jobs, the right to shape the world in which we live and work. We may speak of them as transformational players – the makers and shapers of our world.
In several notorious cases, dysfunctional organisational leaders such as this have led to the destruction of value amounting to many billions of dollars.
More often perhaps, and certainly less visibly, the consequences are less dramatic but no less serious. Employees and the organisation as whole suffer a loss of curiosity and creative possibility as contrary views become silenced. There is a disappearance of nuance and difference as people try to follow the leader. Thinking and acting within the guardrails of the dominant style becomes the unconsciously enforced norm.
Noisy egos, at all levels in organisations, bring chaos or stifled compliance in their wake.