Washington, Oct 8 : When it comes to leadership, 'self-centered' narcissists are the best bet - if the group is without a leader.
That's the conclusion of a new study.
Narcissism is a trait in which people are self-centered, overconfident in their own abilities, exaggerate their talents and abilities, and lack empathy for others.
In three consecutive studies, researchers found that people who score high in narcissism tend to take control of leaderless groups.
"Not only did narcissists rate themselves as leaders, which you would expect, but other group members also saw them as the people who really run the group," said Amy Brunell, lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University at Newark.
She added: "It's not surprising that narcissists become leaders. They like power, they are egotistical, and they are usually charming and extraverted. But the problem is, they don't necessarily make better leaders."
Two of the studies, which needed a group of college students to choose a leader amongst themselves showed similar results to the third one conducted on business managers in an MBA program.
While all the studies indicated that narcissists are more likely to become leaders, one of the studies suggested that, once in power, narcissists are no better that others in the leadership role.
The expert said: "Even trained observers saw narcissistic people as the natural leaders. In addition, this study showed that narcissism plays a role in leadership among real-world managers."
The studies also counted for other factors - such as gender and personality traits like high self-esteem and extraversion - that may relate to leadership development, and narcissism was still found to play a key role.
Brunell, however, pointed out that one should not confuse narcissism with high self-esteem.
"A person with high self-esteem is confident and charming, but they also have a caring component and they want to develop intimacy with others. Narcissists have an inflated view of their talents and abilities and are all about themselves. They don't care as much about others," explained Brunell.
According to her, the results of the study apply to many parts of life, ranging from the politics of the presidential race to Wall Street.
The study will appear in an upcoming print issue of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.