Narcissism or Humility: which is likely to help a CEO lead?

Marillyn Hewson, chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin CorpThe Dean Australia’s Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney Australia has authored a study of the level of narcissism as a leadership trait among CEOs at the USA’s top 100 companies, as  a first step in investigating narcissism as a leadership quality and predictor of company performance.

As reported in the Washington Post, “Ranking the CEOs in his sample by that metric, he was able to compile a list of apparent CEO humility that named Pat Gelsinger (CEO of VMware), Gregg Steinhafel (CEO of Target) and Omar Ishrak (CEO of Medtronic) as the three least narcissistic by that metric.” (3 of the top 10 are women).

Alex Frino, the dean of Macquarie, was careful to point out a Harvard Business Review Study (2000) demonstrating the value of a certain level of narcissism, especially in rough economic times. That Harvard study by Michael Maccoby, and another by IMD Business School, Penn State, and Erlangen-Nuremberg University, provide evidence that narcissism is valuable at the top.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Harvard Business School’s Dean, Nitin Nohria, is quoted in Businessweek that humility is a more prized leadership quality.

Curious what you think is more important in a CEO: narcissism or humility?

~ Norris Lozano, CEO of BusinessUS