Can hospitals trust charismatic leaders?

Charismatic healthcare leaders can be a double-edged sword, particularly in a hospital setting, and can leave a workplace in disarray when they depart, according to a blog post from the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB).

Charismatic leaders "are more likely to do whatever is going to make them look good at the moment … rather than taking actions designed to truly grow the organization so that 10 years later it will be a thriving, successful business," Roy Lubit, a New York-based psychiatrist and executive coach and author of Coping with Toxic Managers, told CKGSB.

However, narcissistic hospital CEOs stand to do much more harm in the long term than the short, according to the post. Employees will base their behavior on what they see permitted at the executive level, said Timothy Quigley, an assistant professor of management at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia in Athens, according to the post.

Research indicates that narcissism in moderation can help hospital leaders' performance. Moderately narcissistic leaders create "a nice balance between having sufficient levels of self-confidence, but do not manifest the negative, antisocial aspects of narcissism that involve putting others down to feel good about themselves," said Peter Harms, assistant professor of management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Excessive narcissism, however, can actually harm the hospital workplace and its culture. In these cases, "over time the more negative aspects of narcissism," such as "being exploitative, arrogant and even tyrannical," tend to manifest, according to Emily Grijalva, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois. This kind of leader will hurt outcomes because they "usually hate to have their opinions called into question, and to guard against embarrassment, they will sometimes surround themselves with people whose most conspicuous talent is an ability to curry favor with the boss," according to the blog post.

Executives who succeed charismatic leaders face three primary challenges, the blog pos states: communicating their own vision and values to employees, finding ways to fill the gaps left by their predecessors and, most importantly, improving the workplace experience. "In a way, the new CEO must help the organization gain a new level of maturity," the post states. "Rather than wait for the great leader to decide, they need to develop processes that compensate for what the former CEO brought to the table."

To learn more:
- read the blog post