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Narcissists May Be More Likely To Be Leaders (But Not Necessarily Good Ones)

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Narcissists are more likely to hold leadership positions, but that doesn't necessarily make them more successful leaders, according to a new study in the journal Personnel Psychology.

Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln analyzed existing studies on narcissism and leadership and also looked at previously-unanalyzed data to find that people with extremely high narcissism levels, as well as extremely low narcissism levels, make for the worst leaders.

"Our findings are pretty clear that the answer to the question as to whether narcissism is good or bad is that it is neither. It's best in moderation," study researcher Emily Grijalva, of the University of Illinois, said in a statement. "With too little, a leader can be viewed as insecure or hesitant, but if you're too high on narcissism, you can be exploitative or tyrannical."

That's because people with moderate levels of narcissism have found that happy medium where they are still self-confident, but "do not manifest the negative, antisocial aspects of narcissism that involve putting others down to feel good about themselves," study researcher Peter Harms, an associate professor of management at the university, added in the statement.

Harms added that narcissists may excel in short-term situations -- like interviews or first-time meetings -- but their faults become clearer with time. More research is needed to determine if narcissists tend to excel more in certain leadership positions than others.

Indeed, a 2012 study Harms authored in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology showed that narcissists make better first impressions in job interviews, with people rating narcissists' job interviews higher than non-narcissists.