The Narcissistic Organisation

The more we embed digital elements into our organisations, the more we transfer elements of the psyche of those who write the applications.

A post by Dr. Eric Perry today triggered For me a link to Itchak Adizes work on corporate life cycles.

I suspect that as organisations develop, they can exhibit the qualities outlined by Dr. Perry until they become narcissistic.

They start off, like most organisations, with a clear purpose and a core team who shape it and give it character. Over time however, ownership transfers to external shareholders, and the core team is replaced by new hires.

The original purpose gets lost, and the leadership teams define themselves in terms of the feedback of the shareholders, and before long you have the qualities of narcissism made real in an organisation.

Dr. Perry defines narcissism in these terms:

1. G – Grandiosity

2. A – Arrogant

3. S – Special (the belief that they are special)

4. F – Fantasies of wealth and power

5. E – Entitled

6. E – Exploitive

7. E – Excessive need for admiration

8. E – Empathy (lack of)

9. E – Envious

Remind you of any organisations you know?

The tendency in Corporates is of course exacerbated by them having the legal rights of an individual, but none of the moral obligations. They exist, legally, for the benefit of the shareholders measured in terms of financial return.

For the last hundred or so years, that worked. Now however, when the wealth they have created is concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority, it becomes a liability. The majority are not only isolated from wealth, but increasingly detached from its generation.

Today, leaders cannot ignore this if they want to lead organisations worth leading.

We all know what happened to Narcissus.

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