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Narcissism and Leadership: A Meta-Analytic Review of Linear and Nonlinear Relationships



Past empirical studies relating narcissism to leadership have offered mixed results. This study integrates prior research findings via meta-analysis to make 4 contributions to theory on narcissism and leadership, by (a) distinguishing between leadership emergence and leadership effectiveness, to reveal that narcissism displays a positive relationship with leadership emergence, but no relationship with leadership effectiveness; (b) showing narcissism's positive effect on leadership emergence can be explained by leader extraversion; (c) demonstrating that whereas observer-reported leadership effectiveness ratings (e.g., supervisor-report, subordinate-report, and peer-report) are not related to narcissism, self-reported leadership effectiveness ratings are positively related to narcissism; and (d) illustrating that the nil linear relationship between narcissism and leadership effectiveness masks an underlying curvilinear trend, advancing the idea that there exists an optimal, midrange level of leader narcissism.