Differences Between Narcissistic and Covenant Leadership

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Abstract

Narcissistic and covenant leadership styles are examined regarding traits and possible organizational effects. While narcissistic leaders tend to focus on themselves and their personal goals, covenant leaders are willing to create a strong team based on such concepts as unity, mutual respect, and shared responsibilities. Moreover, narcissistic leadership leads to low job satisfaction among employees and adverse long-term outcomes.

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In contrast, covenant leadership is described as one that creates a positive environment for motivated individuals who strive for success while working together as a team. Covenant leadership can be extremely effective in the law enforcement since police officers have stressful jobs. A leader who rewards and acknowledges them will mitigate certain aspects of their uneasy work. Such observations lead to the conclusion that covenant leadership is much more effective than narcissistic leadership.

Introduction

Effective leadership is one of the critical concepts that can benefit a company on multiple levels. The company’s leaders are responsible for all the processes, employees, and outcomes of the organization they manage. Moreover, different leadership styles determine the overall disposition and effectiveness of the staff, which is a vital part of any company that aims to be successful and competitive in the market. Multiple types of research have examined this topic, and it has been observed that narcissistic leadership has an overall negative implication on the workflow, the workforce, and the outcomes.

In contrast, covenant leadership proves to be associated with high satisfaction rates among employees and better results. There are considerable differences between narcissistic and covenant leadership, but it is definite that covenant leadership is a more effective way of managing an organization.

Narcissistic Leadership

Organizational leadership often correlates with the leaders’ traits and personalities. In the case of narcissistic leadership, the leader’s central premise is achieving personal goals and fulfilling their objectives. According to researchers, narcissistic leadership is a common practice that can be observed within various companies worldwide (Li et al., 2020). The fact that this leadership style is popular does not mean it is effective. Narcissism is described in 2 Timothy 3:1-3, where people are illustrated as self-concerned, greedy, arrogant, and abusive (New Revised Standard Version, 1989). Such words perfectly describe the concept of narcissism.

The leaders that tend to manage their companies this way are individuals with such traits as arrogance, high self-esteem, dominance over people with lower positions within the company, and ignorance towards their employees’ demands and points of view. Moreover, corporate narcissism often makes it impossible for employees to advance in their careers because the most influential positions are given to people whom the leaders deem as loyal and close to them in terms of specific values or opinions.

It is essential to mention that narcissistic leadership is based on power and wealth. While a leader that is interested in having a successful company is not uncommon, narcissistic leadership only focuses on the desire for power for the leader and not the organization as a whole. This makes such leaders cross ethical boundaries and distance themselves from the core values of the organization and the employees, creating a gap between high-ranking leaders and other staff members. The company is secondary for a narcissistic leader compared to personal image and values.

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Traits of Narcissistic Leadership

Several explicit traits define narcissistic leadership as a style that is used by multiple leaders all over the world. It is vital to mention that narcissistic leadership can be beneficial in the short-term lifecycle of a company. Researchers point out that it may positively impact goal-orienting objectives among staff members (Li & Tong, 2021). Certain employees can initially interpret narcissism as self-confidence and ambition. This is why some of the individuals in the workforce can follow the leader’s ambition and extrapolate it as a role model. Such conclusions may lead to better short-term outcomes and efficiency.

Another debatable benefit is highlighted by the employees’ willingness to keep silent about the issues they meet in their professional life (Mousa et al., 2020). However, silenced staff members are not fixing the problem but rather ignoring it until a pivotal moment that will reveal itself in the most critical situations.

Narcissistic leadership is characterized as having more negative than positive effects. There is a direct correlation between this style of leadership and an increasing rate of job-related stress among employees (Yao et al., 2019). Since employees do not have an adequate support system or a leader who can relate to them in terms of difficulties and stress, they do not feel heard and understood. This leads to more stress and job dissatisfaction, which can ultimately negatively affect the organization as a whole. If good employees leave because of a narcissistic leader, the organization will not have enough professionals and experts to have positive outcomes.

Moreover, the quality of work will go down because of the leader’s aim to follow personal interests rather than organizational ones (Ghislieri et al., 2019). All the aspects mentioned above prove that narcissistic leadership is not effective and does not correlate with good long-term results for any organization.

Covenant Leadership

Covenant leadership is the complete opposite of narcissistic leadership, which is characterized by unity and community instead of individualistic goals achieved by the leader alone. The concept of covenant refers to an agreement, and covenant leadership illustrates the mutual work done by every employee toward the greater good. While each worker has different responsibilities and duties, there has to be a unity that suggests how every individual impacts another one despite the different roles within the organization. Narcissistic leaders are focused on having a perfect image and gaining success for themselves, and covenant leader is eager to praise and reward other employees for their hard work. Such leaders always acknowledge people within the workforce for their input and for their involvement in the company’s life. Covenant leadership is the style that is described as beneficial one in terms of organizational relationships, job satisfaction, and motivation.

Traits of Covenant Leadership

Covenant leadership is a concept that is mentioned in the Holy Bible. Genesis 9:12 – 17 specifically includes God’s words regarding the creation of a covenant between Him and all living creatures surviving the flood (New Revised Standard Version, 1989). According to researchers, there are multiple covenants illustrated in the scripture, and they complement each other while existing in the same paradigm (Davis, 2020). This represents a pact or an agreement in which both sides aim to create a unified bond with shared responsibilities and goals that have to be achieved through team effort. The concept remains the same in terms of the organizational covenant. The main traits of covenant leadership are reciprocity, shared responsibility, fairness, and community. Such leadership is based on the responsibilities that each of the team members has and the positive outcome for the rest of the employees if these responsibilities are respected and fulfilled.

Multiple organizations have observed beneficial results after implementing a covenant leadership style. A covenantal approach is a valuable tool that positively impacts companies on multiple different levels ( Fischer & Schultz, 2017).

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One of the benefits is the overall satisfaction that employees have with their job. Staff members that feel valued and appreciated tend to be motivated in regard to organizational goals. Moreover, such employees rarely quit their jobs or have complaints due to the fact that they often participate in decision-making processes and impact organizational life. This is a beneficial aspect that tends to lead to positive outcomes. Since covenant leadership motivates staff members to be more active and work as a team, the organizational environment is pleasant, and the results are more favorable in comparison to the narcissistic style.

Case study

To better understand the practice of effective covenant leadership, it is crucial to be in the position of influencing and guiding people who have already experienced ineffective leadership. Within this case study, I was recently appointed chief of police in a large local police organization where the former chef was a narcissistic leader who promulgated his worst traits within the workplace. Individuals working in the department have experienced multiple issues due to the leadership style that their former leader was using. This is why specific changes and implementations have to be made in order for the situation to turn in a better direction.

The goal is to develop a plan that would benefit the organization based on covenant leadership principles. Moreover, the plan will impact the workforce just as much as it will affect the overall organizational outcomes that will occur after specific policies are suggested and acted upon. The following concepts will lead to a more positive work environment, stronger professional relationships among colleagues, and better external interactions with members of the community that the police department is responsible for in regard to safety.

The first step would be creating stronger professional relationships and giving individuals the opportunity to speak up. According to researchers, people within law enforcement often feel like the leaders are not always willing to try to understand the issues that they go through (Hoggett et al., 2018). This is precisely why it would be a change that can create a more positive environment where each person can participate in the discussion.

Another change that correlates with communication is having frequent meetings within the workforce where the officers will discuss current problems, goals, and work-related situations that impact their well-being. It is vital for police officers and other workers to meet their colleagues and has strong bonds in terms of professional relationships. Creating a pleasant work environment is one of the aspects of covenant leadership and will lead to better outcomes for the institution as a whole.

Another aspect that needs to be considered is the high levels of stress that most individuals within law enforcement experience on and off duty. It has been observed that there are direct correlations between stressful jobs and compromised mental and physical help (Violanti et al., 2017). This is why it is vital to have a system that allows police officers to release some of the tension. In this case, it is essential to build a covenant between law enforcement and the community that they protect. This will reassure them that their work is greatly appreciated and will make them realize how valuable they are for the department and each civilian in particular. The strategy can be implemented by having various events and activities where police officers would be able to meet and interact with civilians on a more casual level.

Moreover, it is crucial to have a fair and positive reward system that would allow police officers to receive the recognition they deserve. Acknowledging someone else’s virtues and braveness is something that a narcissistic leader would never do because of the strong sense of self-importance that would not allow for accepting others’ input. However, within covenant leadership, it is essential to praise and reward others based on their achievements and accomplishments. Having a more effective reward system would also build the motivation and the will to be successful, which is beneficial for the whole organization in the long run. This can be achieved by rewarding police officers with the best records regarding keeping the community safe, having the highest number of hours of duty, and achieving organizational goals such as preventing and mitigating criminal activity.

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Certain downsides can be met while implementing the new plan. The first possible downfall is the unfamiliarity with a structure based on mutual respect and understanding. Individuals that had a narcissistic leader for a long time may not be entirely comfortable with a whole new environment. However, this is a matter of time since every single employee will soon realize that the new implementations benefit them. The possible successes of having a lower rate of stress and higher job satisfaction, as well as stronger relationships inside and outside the organization, are much more significant than possible downfalls at the beginning of the journey.

After analyzing the situation and examining possible negative and positive implications that may occur after the change of leadership, it is certain that covenant leadership is much more effective. The police officers would see physiological benefits and support from their colleagues and members of their communities, and the department would be more effective when it comes to crucial duties such as ensuring safety and mitigating crimes.

Conclusion

After comparing the narcissistic and covenant leadership styles, it is evident that they are entirely different not only in terms of traits and strategies but also in regard to outcomes and work environment. A narcissistic leader will not be able to create strong professional relationships with employees or reward them for their achievements because it does not correlate with common narcissistic values such as personal interest above all.

On the other hand, covenant leadership is beneficial for the workforce and for the entire organization because it is based on mutual understanding, rewarding hard work, sharing responsibilities, and working towards a common goal while including the whole team. This suggests that covenant leadership is more effective and will lead to better outcomes within a police department or any other organization or institution that strives for success and healthy internal and external policies.

References

Fischer, K. J., & Schultz, J. (2017). Covenant and empowerment: Integrative themes for organizational leadership and behavior. Organization Development Journal, 35(3), 43–67.

Davis, A. R. (2020). A biblical view of covenants old and new. Theological Studies, 81(3), 631–648. Web.

Ghislieri, C., Cortese, C. G., Molino, M., & Gatti, P. (2019). The relationships of meaningful work and narcissistic leadership with nurses’ job satisfaction. Journal of Nursing Management, 27(8), 1691–1699. Web.

Hoggett, J., Redford, P., Toher, D., & White, P. (2018). Challenges for police leadership: Identity, experience, legitimacy and direct entry. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 34(2), 145–155. Web.

Li, J., & Tong, Y. (2021). Does narcissistic leadership enhance employee resilience? A moderated mediation model of goal-directed energy and psychological availability. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 42(5), 819–836. Web.

Li, M., Ye, H., & Zhang, G. (2020). The influence mechanism of narcissistic leadership on the formation process of team creativity: A multi-perspective study. Advances in Psychological Science, 28(9), 1437. Web.

Mousa, M., Abdelgaffar, H. a, Aboramadan, M., & Chaouali, W. (2020). Narcissistic leadership, employee silence, and organizational cynicism: A study of physicians in Egyptian public hospitals. International Journal of Public Administration, 1–10. Web.

New Revised Standard Version. (1989). National Council of Churches.

Violanti, J. M., Charles, L. E., McCanlies, E., Hartley, T. A., Baughman, P., Andrew, M. E., Fekedulegn, D., Ma, C. C., Mnatsakanova, A., & Burchfiel, C. M. (2017). Police stressors and health: A state-of-the-art review. Policing: An International Journal, 40(4), 642–656. Web.

Yao, Z., Zhang, X., Liu, Z., Zhang, L., & Luo, J. (2019). Narcissistic leadership and voice behavior: The role of job stress, traditionality, and trust in leaders. Chinese Management Studies, 14(3), 543–563. Web.

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