Meryl Streep's interpretation of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada reminded men and women of their experiences with their worst boss. Her ruthless, self-absorbed behavior portrayed how complicated encounters can be with a narcissistic leader. “Prada” became the nickname for a cold, grandiose, and exploitative boss needing to be reminded of her special, unique location. When we are generally fascinated by such leaders, what motivates a narcissistic leader?
Narcissism has a storied history. Freud very first penned the term primarily based on Narcissus, a handsome Greek youth condemned to fall in enjoy with his reflection in a pool of water. Psychologists expanded the mythic Narcissus and observed behavioral patterns illustrated by Miranda: grandiose and entitled demanding admiration and manage lacking empathy and acting superior. Miranda was not distressed by her behavior only the inability of other folks to meet her mandates. She produced unrealistic, perfectionist demands of her employees and was “disappointed” when they did not satisfy her. Her daring demeanor seems to be founded on terrific strength. To the contrary, it rests on a fragile foundation of inferiority generally formed from fears of failure and exposure. This can lead to overcompensation in order to prove her worth and worth.
What could have triggered Miranda to overcompensate and cover her fears of inferiority and exposure? In a word, shame. Shame is about an invasive, individual flaw. So what is Miranda's individual flaw? Narcissistic shame is generally an age-old battle fought to cover feeling of becoming a fraud, unlovable, or pitiful. Miranda emotionally refused to let men and women know her. Fears of becoming found have been just under the surface the slightest criticism or disenchantment could trigger her humiliating ire. With minimum words or an icy stare she summarily stripped other folks of their self-respect. Shame's special function is that it is so intolerable that a lot of have created the potential to not acknowledge it. Miranda, for instance, insulated herself by becoming cold, cruel, conniving, and let down by every person about her. Her wall of protection, nevertheless, demanded a higher cost, a lonely life. Her coveted trophies of energy, beauty, and income replaced intimate relationships with her youngsters, husband, and colleagues.
If Miranda Priestly sold her life to a fantasy, why was she so thriving? The worry of shame is a compelling motivator. The drive to handle this dreaded feeling challenges leaders to obtain exceptional outcomes. For instance, she had a keen eye for style trends and a dominating vision for Runway magazine. She went to terrific length to use her vision and prestige to shape the market. Her energy attracted other folks to her “a lot of out of worry” and in the style market “only her opinion counted.” Her ruthless pursuit of outcomes equipped her to deal with all threats “actual and imagined”and win.
Michael Maccoby's classic write-up the “Narcissistic Leaders” in the Harvard Company Overview (January-February, 2000) discusses the pros and cons of this leadership style. He observed such adverse qualities as: sensitivity to criticism, poor listening abilities, lack of empathy, distaste for mentoring, and an intense need to compete. Psychologists would argue that shame underlies each and every 1.
Narcissistic leaders like Miranda are profoundly thinned-skin more than time they renounced the trustworthiness of other folks. Self-understanding proved as well painful and/or humiliating. Constructive feedback could have been seasoned as a loss of manage or a painful exposure. To avert criticism, Miranda's piercing, important demeanor produced it clear that feedback was to be avoided. There was no such practical experience of becoming mildly exposed. Failure to treat her uniqueâ”give her what she wanted when she wanted itâ”resulted in belittling the offender, behavior constant with narcissistic shame.
Poor listening is a direct outcome of becoming sensitive to criticism. Listening demands focus and recognizing the other. When the worry of shame underlies listening, Miranda was poised to be on guard and either ignore and dismiss or strike. She, like a lot of other leaders, created an uncanny potential to blithely disregard what was stated, as if it had not been heard. Other instances she was challenged or hurt and responded with hostility a preemptive tactic to eradicate the implicit threat and regain manage.
Empathy is a important element in all relationships, but not for the narcissist. A caring want to be involved with other folks is generally replaced with suspicion and cynicism. For the narcissist, pursuing warm, compassionate relationships are not of interests. Miranda's want for enjoy was replaced by demanding adoration and deference. She appears to have lost the need to attain out to other folks if she produced the other particular person the difficulty, she could continue to really feel okay about herself.
Organizations succeed by becoming competitive, but the narcissistic leader thrives on it. Competitors is a lot more than a excellent business enterprise approach it is a option for dealing with unending threats. The competitive intensity, nevertheless, is a paradox. On the 1 hand, Miranda's competitive want to win masked the hallmarks of shame: fears of becoming weak, losing manage, or perceived as incompetent. At the exact same time, the spoils of her conquests held the hope of vindication and relief from her shameful predicament: “There is no 1 who can do what I do!” she exclaimed. Extra is at stake than merely winning Miranda's legacy itself was bet on her gambit.
Narcissistic shame drives a lot of to be unequaled in their skilled skills: gifted visionaries, determined leaders, and ruthless choice makers. But the leader's prominence is constructed on a fragile foundation of inferiority and the incapability of trusting other folks. These behaviors are symptoms of shame. Psychologists who perform with such leaders usually obtain feelings of becoming fundamentally undesirable and not worthy of membership in the human neighborhood behind these behaviors. Miranda would be the final to know or admit her shame: “Everyone desires this! [privilege]” she exclaimed. “Everyone desires to be like us.”