Outsized Influence

Common personality traits amplify leaders’ ideological influence on their organizations

Narcissism and extraversion can magnify a CEO’s ideological influence over an organization.

That’s the conclusion of research by Abhinav Gupta, an assistant professor of strategic management and Michael G. Foster Endowed Fellow.

Gupta finds that firms led by narcissistic or extraverted CEOs whose politics lean liberal are more likely to exhibit strategic behaviors associated with liberal values, such as corporate social responsibility (CSR).

On the flip side, firms led by extraverted CEOs who lean politically conservative tend to exhibit more strategic behaviors associated with conservatism, such as downsizing.

“In general,” Gupta says, “we find that CEOs who hold exaggerated perceptions of their influence (narcissists) or are able to effectively sell their choices to others (extraverts) enjoy greater latitude in infusing firm strategies with their preferences than CEOs who lack those qualities.”

In other words, extraverts are good at selling their views. Narcissists believe they know best. And CEOs who possess one or both of these traits possess magnified ability to shape firm strategy around their personal beliefs.

Ed Kromer Managing Editor Foster School

Ed Kromer is the managing editor of Foster Business magazine. Over the past two decades, he has served as the school’s senior storyteller, writing about a wide array people, programs, insights and innovations that power the Foster School community.