Leadership Tip

How to mentor a narcissist

Working with a narcissist [someone who believes the world evolves around them] is hard, but mentoring one can be especially challenging. Your instinct as a mentor may be to criticise the narcissist, to put them in their place, but this typically makes a self-absorbed person defensive - prompting even more problematic behaviour. Try some empathy instead: 

  1. Recognise that narcissism is often a byproduct of insecurity, then work hard to convey affirmation and understanding. You might say things like, “We’re really lucky to have you here. It must be hard when others don’t seem to appreciate your contributions.”
     
  2. Position your mentee’s problematic qualities in a positive way. For example, you could frame arrogance and entitlement as unusually high self-confidence. By demonstrating respect and acceptance, you can lower the person’s defences, opening the door to meaningful dialogue and greater self-awareness.

The above leadership tip...
was sent in response to a question from a participant on our 10/10 leadership development and mentoring programme and adapted from How to Mentor a Narcissist by Brad Johnson and David Smith. Whether you're a first time manager or an experienced leader, straightforward, practical advice on best practice is hard to find. Until now. To find out how you, your team or your organisation can benefit, please join us on our next complimentary webinar or contact us.

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