Thanks to Adam Grant for sharing this research study.
Researchers at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Texas conducted, to their knowledge, the first study of the relationship between narcissism levels and various aspects of leadership in children.
They first assessed narcissism levels using the Childhood Narcissism Scale and assessed leadership emergence in classrooms using peer nominations. Children then performed a group task in which one child was randomly assigned as leader. and the researchers assessed perceived and actual leadership functioning.
The researchers found that children with relatively high narcissism levels tend to emerge as leaders, even though they may not excel as leaders.
And before you think that what is needed is trying to change someone from being a narcissist, I found it interesting that what the researchers suggest is to seek interventions to cultivate effective leadership from a young age, perhaps especially among children who score higher on narcissism, given that these children often emerge as leaders.
This seems to suggest that being a narcissist is a personality trait that may be difficult to change. So instead of trying to do so, take the positive aspects of such a personality, such as their tendency to emerge as leaders, and work with them on how to become an effective one.
This also suggests that leadership is something that can be taught, starting at a young age.
If that is the case, then I think it would be better to look for young children who exhibit signs of empathy, kindness, and compassion and train them to be effective leaders.
So now it seems like K-8 teachers, in addition to all their current responsibilities, have to be on the lookout for who might be a good leader, and then start training them to be one.
An overwhelming task for sure.
But their hard work may pay dividends 50 years later when one of those kids becomes President…