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Leader–follower narcissism and subgroup formation in teams: a conceptual model

Manuel London (College of Business, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 9 August 2019

Issue publication date: 21 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Drawing on existing theory, a model is developed to illustrate how the interaction between leaders and followers similarity in narcissism and goal congruence may influence subgroup formation in teams, and how this interaction influences team identification and team performance.

Design/methodology/approach

The proposed model draws on dominance complementary, similarity attraction, faultline formation and trait activation theories.

Findings

Leader–follower similarity in narcissism and goal congruence may stimulate subgroup formation, possibly resulting in conformers, conspirators, outsiders and victims, especially when performance pressure on a team is high. Followers who are low in narcissism and share goals with a leader who is narcissistic are likely to become conformers. Followers who are high in narcissism and share goals with a narcissistic leader are likely to become confederates. Followers who do not share goals with a narcissistic leader will be treated by the leader and other members as outsiders if they are high in narcissism, and victimized if they are low in narcissism. In addition, the emergence of these subgroups leads to reduced team identification and lower team performance.

Practical implications

Higher level managers, coaches and human resource professions can assess and, if necessary, counteract low team identification and performance resulting from the narcissistic personality characteristics of leaders and followers.

Originality/value

The model addresses how and under what conditions narcissistic leaders and followers may influence subgroup formation and team outcomes.

Keywords

Citation

London, M. (2019), "Leader–follower narcissism and subgroup formation in teams: a conceptual model", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 34 No. 6, pp. 429-442. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMP-09-2018-0396

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited