Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Do Narcissists Impede Information Sharing in Groups?

A lengthy stream of research demonstrates that groups tend to focus their discussion on information commonly possessed by all members, while privately held information tends not to be shared and discussed sufficiently.  Team performance often suffers when members fail to disclose privately held information.  Some tasks and decisions require the integration of each member’s information and expertise; just one member’s failure to disclose and share privately held information can impair the team’s ability to accomplish its task effectively.  Some studies have shown that small changes in a leader's behavior can facilitate or impede information sharing in groups. 

Christopher Shea of the Wall Street Journal pointed us to a new study conducted by Barbora Nevicka, Femke Ten Velden, Annebel De Hoogh, and Annelies Van Vianen.  Their research examined specifically how narcissistic leaders performed in a setting in which group members needed to share and integrate privately held information to solve a problem.  The scholars found that, "The narcissists’ preoccupation with their own brilliance inhibits a crucial element of successful group decision-making and performance: the free and creative exchange of information and ideas."  I don't find the conclusion surprising at all, but the research definitely helps shine the spotlight on this important challenge that many leaders and groups face. 

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