The term narcissism emanates from a Greek myth about a man named Narcissus, who eccentrically fixates on his reflection in a water stream to the extent that he avoids drinking from the stream, an action instigated by the fear of distorting his reflection. Subsequently, Narcissus dies from thirst while obsessing over the reflection of his image. Likewise, a narcissist leader continually fixates on his position and power as a means to uphold self-glory and self-esteem.
People exhibit unique behaviors and personalities based on their genetic makeup, environment, or upbringing. Hence, every leader exhibits a diverse style of leadership stirred by aspects such as motivation, personality, and success. This paper focuses on two types of leaders; covenant and narcissistic leaders. The paper defines both narcissistic and covenant leadership and discusses the major traits identifiable in the two. A comparison and contrast based on the biblical view reveal distinctive information regarding leadership styles.
The paper also discusses the impact of the two leaders on the management of a police department to identify a suitable leadership style. An all-inclusive organizational plan describes the introduction of the covenant leadership style into a city police force with a narcissistic background. This project intends to improve the comprehension of the qualities of narcissistic and covenant leaders and improve knowledge on their dissimilarities with the aim of executing the transformation of a police force.
This section of the paper begins by defining narcissistic leadership. Narcissist leaders crave attention from their followers, and always strive to stay in power. Ong et al., (2016) explain that a narcissistic disposition has to be controlled; otherwise, the leader’s self-absorbed nature may lead to mood instability, poor interpersonal behavior, over-stated self-esteem, and exploitative conduct. Narcissistic behavior worsens over time as the leader gains more power and authority over a state. For example, Adolf Hitler, initially a charismatic leader grew increasingly narcissistic to the point of becoming one of the vilest leaders in the history of mankind. Other popular narcissistic leaders include Napoleon, Gandhi, and business moguls such as Rockefeller and Henry Ford. However, narcissist leaders have in some instances proven relevant. In fact, Baranger (2018) argues that every individual has a narcissist behavior in them that requires a specific set of conditions to ignite. Studies indicate that productive narcissists can foster positive transformation because they can capitalize on their strengths while suppressing their weaknesses.
Secondly, identifying narcissist leaders requires one to carefully observe some of the traits discussed in this section. By definition, narcissism is a behavioral quality held by a self-absorbed person. A narcissist leader thus prioritizes his or her interests over the subjects (Hellmich, 2019). Unfortunately, people still elect this type of leader. Narcissistic leaders assume that people must serve them rather than vice versa. Zaleznik (2018) refers to this line of thought as the reverse principle where leaders neglect the needs of the people or organization. Materialistic desires cause self-absorbed leaders to consider their needs over those of the people they are sworn to serve.
Narcissistic leaders are masters of excellent communication and verbal skills. These leaders understand the importance of winning the hearts of the people which further propels their popularity and admiration. These leaders demonstrate an inability to take criticism owing to their vulnerability to dissenting opinions. Narcissists, therefore, choose to not listen to criticism and only listen to affirmative opinions regarding them. The inability to listen to critics serves as a defense mechanism (Owens, 2015). Finally, the fear of criticism gives rise to narcissists’ lack of social skills and overall emotional instability particularly when questions of integrity and accountability arise.
Thirdly, the disadvantages of narcissist leaders come in many shapes and forms. Effective organizational systems are dependent on efficient communication. However, narcissist leaders are poor communicators which not only makes them poor listeners but also renders them self-obnoxious persons who never express interest in listening to the opinions of others. According to Xiao et al., (2018), narcissist leaders gratify their ego through the extreme obsession with appearance; traits that cause them to disregard reality. These leaders thus create hostile working environments, which pit employees against their leaders ultimately hindering the company from achieving its set objectives.
In some, the narcissistic personality of a leader can become an organization’s greatest asset. The hunger for a legacy, desire for recognition, and competitive nature of narcissist leaders give them the extra push to work hard and achieve (Pan & Yu, 2017). These leaders are risk takers which inspires the rest of the staff members to follow them, especially during high-pressure situations. Narcissist leadership is crucial during organizational restructuring because the fearless nature of narcissist leaders allows them to make decisions and execute plans without worry thereby facilitating a quicker transition (Anninos, 2018).
Fourthly, covenant leadership offers an alternative to the narcissistic style of leadership. Covenant leadership pertains to relinquishing power so as to accommodate others and developing an amicable relationship with others (Fischer & Schultz, 2017). God practices covenant leadership as observed in the case of Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, and other characters in the Bible. For example, we read that, “true spiritual leaders give their lives for the sheep in the same way the Lord Jesus did” (John 10:10, New International Version Bible). Also, this type of leadership gets highlighted when God sacrifices his only son Jesus Christ. Covenant leadership represents giving and sacrificing one’s needs for the sake of others while maintaining a good and loving relationship with all people irrespective of the shortcomings.
Covenant leaders possess a set of distinguishable traits. Covenant leaders unequivocally commit to the attainment of the set objectives. They possess a genuine desire to contribute to the success of a company. These leaders are quick to take control of matters affecting team members because they sincerely care about the well-being of others. Covenant leaders are consistent with their decisions which allow for clarity, consistency, control, and satisfaction (Pava, 2015). These traits integrate all the characteristics of a good leader.
This part of the paper independently examines the effects of running a police department using a narcissist or covenant style of leadership. Whenever narcissist leaders feel strongly about a situation, they can be intolerable with their approach especially when things fail to go their way. In a study, Moran (2017) found that “narcissists will generally seek professions that allow them to interact from a position of authority or superiority.” Narcissist leaders capitalize on unbearable behavior which obstructs the work environment hence turning employees against each other. This has been a common occurrence in police departments across America.
Leadership is an important determinant of performance. It goes without saying that marginalized communities such as African Americans and Hispanics constantly face police brutality partly due to the narcissist behavior within the police departments. A narcissist law enforcement police chief can cause a negative impact on the officers within the department and the community at large. Officers may feel detached from the locals and end up using excessive force. Also, line officers fear to express their feelings and end up suffering from depression and work-related stress. Ultimately, officers develop a deep detestation against their superiors, ending up in a situation of us against them.
Nevertheless, covenant leadership natures an atmosphere of trust. Covenant leadership does more than just improve the relationship between two persons, and to a large extent involves an all-inclusive process of strengthening working relationships on numerous dimensions. Hence, in a police precinct, covenant leadership will foster substantial positive change in how fellow officers interact with each other and the larger community. This leadership style will ultimately establish a valid covenant between the community and police department resulting in a moral commitment by society as a whole.
There is a need to develop a covenant change plan within the context of a police organization. The fast step towards developing a plan for covenant leadership entails accentuating the idea of integration and also putting it into practice. The integration journey will begin by redefining community policing within the police department. Community policing according to Stein & Griffith (2017) involves the all-inclusive incorporation of community members into the policing agenda and establishing a unified setting that facilitates coordination between locals and department officers. The implementation of such an approach will serve as an example to the narcissistic leaders, to encourage them to change their management approach to a collaborative and inclusive method. The gist here is to try and make them understand that there is a better way of doing things that don’t involve dividing the station officers.
Also, it may be compelling to discuss the effectiveness of community policing in the US. Community policing in the US encourages proactive problem-solving in a routine and systematic fashion. This approach encourages agencies to develop solutions to the main problem instead of resorting to crime after its occurrence. Community policing has proven effective for inner-city residents who have struggled with issues of insecurity owing to the economic and social struggles faced by the residents of such areas (Braga et al., 2019). For example, the Seattle Police Department works incorporation with the Seattle Neighborhood Group to end low-risk drug dealing. The two works closely to identify perpetrators then give them the option to reform or face the Criminal Justice System. A comparison of Seattle’s crime rate from the year 2008 to 2018 indicates an overall dip in the crime rate due to community policing (Walker, 2016).
After creating awareness for a more responsive community policing approach, the next step will involve meeting the outdated police chiefs to convince and educate them on how they can change their leadership styles. These meetings will entail crediting senior officers for commendable actions and providing educational material on an ongoing basis. The main goal here involves pushing for an attitudinal transformation among station commanders and other senior officers.
Restructuring the management hierarchy for all police divisions plus assigning assistants to narcissist leaders will be critical in striking a balance between ethical community policing and covenant-based decision making. Regular interaction with line officers, lower-level supervisors, and members of the public will foster stronger relationships.
Nonetheless, several challenges will arise during the transformation process. The clench of narcissistic leadership in all departmental levels may prove challenging especially when it has been practiced for a long time. Reynolds (2014), explains that resistance to change is understandable in police departments because officers work in tremendously fluid conditions where the unanticipated and the unexpected become the norm. Officers cling to the established managerial philosophies such as the “business as usual” attitude which reinforces resistance to change. Nevertheless, the regular transfer of officers may avail enough time to undertake a complete transition. Some veteran police officers may have filled in for transfers or retirement. Fast-tracking these processes offer a department to quickly transition to covenant leadership style, thereby dealing with the challenge of resistance to change.
In the long run, narcissist leadership will be a thing of the past that will foster a positive working environment. The department will realize an upsurge in the morale of line managers. Unnecessary use of force will become a thing of the past as locals will now trust the police thereby simplifying the policing efforts.
In conclusion, the literature suggests, narcissist leaders can achieve tremendous success if their level of influence and power is properly monitored and controlled. Covenant leadership, even so, seems the better leadership style but its achievement fundamentally depends on relationships, maintained by followers, who in some cases, lack the compassion to create the needed connections. Above all, the goal is to have a department run with honesty and integrity irrespective of the leadership style.
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