Some researches have shown that, among various personality types, narcissistic persons are more talented to become a successful leader. Those people with narcissistic personality usually demonstrate strengths such as self-confidence, passionate, visionary, courage, creative, charismatic, and so on, which are important quality for a good leader. However, their weaknesses are as obvious as their strengths, such as over confidence, reluctant to listen to others, sensitive to criticism, lack of empathy, distaste for mentoring, an intense desire to compete and so on. Despite they have so many weaknesses, we still find that a lot of famous successful leaders who are endowed with narcissistic personalities, such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Mao Zedong, Lee Kuan Yew, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and so on.
In my opinion, both the strengths and weaknesses of narcissistic personality are extraordinarily obvious in Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China.
Before the establishment of PRC, Mao’s narcissistic personality contributed a lot to his success in leading China’s anti-Japanese war and the war against KMT-led ROC government. For example, at the early stage of the war, China suffered a lot of big failures and the whole country was desperately pessimistic. Mao was one of the few people who were extremely confident in China, and he effectively predicted how the war would go through and how China would win the final victory. When facing KMT-led ROC government in China’s civil war (1946-1949) and US forces in Korea War (1950-1953), Mao demonstrated his great courage and visionary insight, both of which are obvious narcissists’ characters. We can also see Mao’s narcissistic personality in other cases. For example, Mao broke the traditional revolution theory which advocated occupying big cities; instead, Mao suggested revolutionists go to the rural areas. The history has proven that Mao’s creative strategy is quite successful. Mao’s great talent in speech as well as his other endowed quality also showed his narcissistic personality and contributed to his popularity among the public, which is a big advantage for a successful leader.
The establishment of the PRC symbolized Mao’s peak glory in career as a narcissistic leader. Thereafter, Mao’s narcissistic personality played more a negative role rather than a positive one to his career as a great leader. A narcissistic leader’s weaknesses such as misbelief in power, over confidence, reluctant to listen to others, sensitive to criticism, lack of empathy, distaste for mentoring, intense desire to compete, all could be found in Mao. Any doubt on Mao’s authority or validity was unacceptable, and nobody dare to report the truth to Mao. As a result, he lived in a society full of illusionary prosperity, and accordingly he made a series of wrong decisions which brought significant harm to his country, to his people as well as to his own reputations.