Sarah Boyd


The 9 most powerful questions to get perspective in a difficult situation

Do You Know Someone Obsessed With Themselves?

Do you know someone that is obsessed with themselves?

(image credit @jshnaaa)

(image credit @jshnaaa)

Through my university psychology study and personal leadership experience I’ve noticed that personality disorders go undetected in business and leadership, and can cause great damage to relationships and the organisation.

A personality disorder is a stable pattern of behaviour that remains consistent over time. This article is part 1 of a 4 part series on specific personality disorders.

Disclaimer: The only way an individual can be officially diagnosed with a personality disorder is by a trained mental health professional using the DSM criteria. This information is to provide everyday knowledge to equip leaders to be able to identify when you need professional help.


This individual is obsessed with themselves. They are the most likely of all personality disorders to be a leader. Working with or for someone who is narcissistic is overwhelming and terrifying on a daily basis.

The Narcissist:  

1 Is obsessed with themselves

2 Believes themselves to be ‘special’ or ‘unique’
 – and can only be really understood or appreciated by other ‘important’ & ‘successful’ people

3 Has a strong sense of entitlement
– they believe they deserve something, even if they haven’t worked for it.

4 Is arrogant

5 Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power or beauty

6 Has a overwhelming need for admiration
 – and will do anything to get it

7 Has real or fantasy grandiosity
– that can often lead them to exaggerate achievements

8 Is exploitive with relationships
 – only use relationships and people to get what they want

9 Is envious of other people’s success
– will put down others achievements to make themselves look better

10     Has a complate lack of empathy
– unable to put themselves in someone else’s shoes & see it from their perspective. This burns relationships

11      Is snobby, disdainful or patronizing attitude to others

12      Paints a picture of the world where they are the centre
that their’s is the only opinion that matters; and if you were to leave them or not have their approval, you would not be successful in the future

13       Behaves extremely unprofessional and even abusive
 – particularly if you do anything to make them look bad (consciously or unconsciously)

14       Is often very successful in business
 – particularly when it comes to numbers and achievement, but they burn people in the process so do not sustain long term successful leadership

15        Will self-proclaim to be the best at whatever your industry values
 even if it is humility, they will justify why they are one of the most humble people



If you are potentially hiring this person: check references and past ‘achievements’ carefully. Ask team building questions and notice their ability (or lack of) to empathise with others.

If this person is in a team you are leading: Set strong boundaries around explosive behaviour and the treatment of other people. Be a safe place for others in the team to come to you for support.

If this person is your leader: keep a close check on your own mental health – have you begun to feel depressed, anxious and less confident within yourself?

People who stay working directly for an individual with narcissistic personality disorder are more likely to experience a decline in personal mental health (reporting depression and anxiety), and a decrease in self esteem and self confidence.

They eventually believe that the world is like the one described by the narcissist  and become too scared to walk away from the individual for threat of failure in that world. 

Consider your options – can you report their behaviour to an oversight or HR? Can you move teams? If you’ve tried all of the options and nothing has worked, plan an exit strategy.

Your own mental health, self confidence and self esteem are more important than any job.  


For other articles on personality disorders:

1. Borderline Personality Disorder:  “Know Someone Unstable, Emotional and Explosive?” 

2. Histrionic Personality Disorder: “Know A Drama Queen?” 

3. Dependent Personality Disorder: “Know Someone Indecisive, Clingy & Dependent?” 

Or an Introduction: “9 Tell-Tale Signs You’re Dealing With A Dangerous Work Colleague”

For a FREE checklist of “The Big 4 Personality Disorders in Business & Leadership” enter your email below.

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The 9 most powerful questions to get perspective in a difficult situation.