How To Change a Narcissistic Culture

Change the narrative around service and engagement

NARCISSISM IS NOT JUST a type of person, but it can become a part of a company’s culture. This focus on self at the expense of others is encouraged by fear over ones’ wellbeing, companies that measure and reward individual instead of team results, a new generation of employees who feel more entitled than their older peers, and a US culture that reveres individual success.

So, how do you help employees move from “it’s all about me” to a focus on service? Focus on character and engage your employees in key decisions. Here are two suggestions:

Character questions to ask:

  • What are we trying to be the best AT in the company?
  • How are we trying to be the best FOR the company

“AT” goals are about the individual; my results, my needs and expectations, my performance and rewards and my knowledge and skills. “FOR” goals are about the group; our service to others, our needs and expectations, our performance goals, our shared knowledge.

Your son might be the best AT karate, but is he the best FOR the studio in the way he helps others and volunteers to sweep the floor? Your boss might be the best AT supply chain management, but is she the best FOR your company by how she models open communication, collaborates with other departments and does what’s right, even if unpopular?

Engage your people in key decisions. By engaging your people in mission and values decisions you connect them to a larger purpose that defines the team’s unique reason for being, clear business goals and how it’s going to the best FOR the company by modeling service to others.

When we set goals that demonstrate character and engage our employees in key decisions, our team members won’t stop thinking about what is best for them. Rather, they’ll include thinking about what is best for others.

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“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

– Mahatma Gandhi