Narcissistic Leaders compared to Chocolate Cake

Just as chocolate cake seems irresistible to you at the superficial level; it’s flavor and texture are extremely gratifying at the first bite. However, the richness of it’s flavor makes one feel increasingly nauseous overtime. Narcissistic leaders seem to us they will be good leaders, having wholeheartedly fallen for them, but once they are in charge, their popularity fade as they get people sick to their stomachs. Researchers called this a Chocolate cake model of Narcissism.

Being led by a narcissist could be a similar experience: Narcissists might initially be perceived as effective leaders, but these positive perceptions may decrease over time,” say the author of the study published in the Journal of Personality.

The researchers conducted two separate studies, one using group of students that have no knowledge about themselves and a second study on students who have information about each other. The students were to rate each other’s leadership skill, focusing mainly on the relationship between narcissism and leadership.

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The Narcissism Checklist

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At the first test that lasted 12 weeks, the students in each group completed measures of narcissism, leadership and transformational leadership. The next 12 weeks was for weekly tasks to complete for points; after all these, participants were asked to complete the Multi-factor Leadership Questionnaire.

Researchers noted how high scorers in narcissism attracted positive leadership ratings from their peers early on, but this positive impression faded. The deteriorating perception of narcissists over time was linked to their inability to motivate and inspire others.

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Popular Leaders With Narcissistic Personality Disorder

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“Taken together, the findings of the two studies are consistent with the chocolate cake model and demonstrate that initial positive peer perceptions of narcissistic leadership fade over time, and eventually become negative,” the researchers said.

Further reading
Roberts R., Arthur CA. The Leader Ship Is Sinking: A Temporal Investigation of Narcissistic Leadership: J Pers. 2016 Apr;84(2):237-47

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