Narcissistic Executives: The Problem Many Coaches Fail to Find and Struggle to Solve

Executive coaches can only do so much, especially when the problems of an organization stem from its leader’s own psychological faults. The psychology distinction here is key, since issues of this nature tend to be very difficult to detect, let alone solve. Only the very best coaches have the experience and knowledge to tap into how an executive thinks, and how that way of thinking affects their business, for better or for worse. In this article, the for worse distinction is key.

The Root

Coaches from Activate Group Inc. tell of one specially common, subtle, and destructive personality trait very few professionals can successfully diffuse: narcissism. It makes sense that many workplace hierarchies have people like this atop them. Delusions of grandeur are only for the lot who fail to find success, so the driven and competent narcissists make for a common, ideal breed of leaders, if not for their high altitude visions bogging them down.

The Radar

Executive coaches may find clients with narcissistic personality disorder as breeze to deal with — an easy payday from an already productive and efficient boss. But, coaches who really care about their mentee will go exhaustive lengths to trace exactly what a company that turns to them in the first place lacks. There has to be something wrong, and the likelihood of it being the presence of an unabashedly entitle executive is quite high.

The Remedy

Unfortunately, coaching will not correct narcissistic behavior; it may even worsen it. Unless the mentor has a psychotherapy background, the only thing a coach would do is reinforce their client’s overblown sense of self. Talk therapy is the most effective way of dealing with such a defensive type of personality disorder, and if the tendencies of this kind of high-level employee are anything to go by, therapy must administered at an equally high level.

Executives with narcissistic personality disorder may just be the most challenging clients coaches have to teach, assuming they detect the personality trait in the first place. For those who do, and for those who succeed in fixing it, the result will be nothing short of a perfect leader.