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A new survey has revealed that employees working under narcissistic leaders are more likely to suffer from undue stress in crisis situations.

Birgit Schyns, Distinguished Professor of People & Organisations at NEOMA Business School, co-authored analysed survey data on workers in the UK education sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants of the survey reported their levels of irritation and Coronavirus-related worry in five weekly surveys, as well as their experiences with vulnerable narcissistic leadership – an unstable form of leadership characterised by covert feelings of entitlement.

The findings show that the employees exposed to this kind of behaviour reported feeling more irritation in general, and this irritation worsened in weeks when they were exposed to higher amounts of vulnerable narcissistic behaviour from those in charge.

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Professor Schyns said, “Resources are often already stretched thin in crisis situations. Vulnerable narcissistic leaders strain them further, for instance by giving employees no guidelines on how to accomplish goals or blaming others for their own shortcomings.

“Employees already short on time and energy are required to invest more in making sense of their leader’s behaviour.”

The researchers suggest firms should watch out for red flags of narcissistic leadership, such as punishing others for taking the initiative, as the irritation this causes followers can lead to more severe mental health impairments.

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