Leader narcissism and follower outcomes: The counterbalancing effect of leader humility

Bradley P. Owens, Angela S. Wallace, David Waldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

226 Scopus citations


In response to recent calls to theorize and examine how multiple leader characteristics may work together in their effects, the current research examines how leader narcissism and humility interact to predict perceived leader effectiveness and follower (i.e., direct-report) job engagement and performance. Although an examination of leaders who are narcissistic yet humble may seem oxymoronic and even paradoxical, researchers have suggested that seemingly contradictory personal attributes may exist simultaneously and may actually work together to produce positive outcomes. Results from survey data from followers and leaders working for a large health insurance organization showed that the interaction of leader narcissism and leader humility is associated with perceptions of leader effectiveness, follower job engagement, and subjective and objective follower job performance. Together, these results suggest that narcissistic leaders can have positive effects on followers when their narcissism is tempered by humility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1203-1213
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Humility
  • Job engagement
  • Job performance
  • Leader traits
  • Narcissism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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