Sunday, December 16, 2012

Narcissism in ATC

Art by John William Waterhouse
Using a scale of 1-4, with 1 = "NO" and 4 = "YES", rate the following statements* about yourself:-
1) When people compliment me, I sometimes get embarrassed.
2) I think I am a special person.
3) I find it easy to manipulate people.
4) I usually get the respect that I deserve.
5) Sometimes I tell good stories.
6) I hope that I am going to be successful.
7) I can make anybody believe anything that I want them to.
8) I am extraordinary.
* (taken from D.R. Ames et al, 2006)
Congratulations! You have just taken an adaptive form of the Narcissism Personality Inventory (NPI). What is Narcissism? Is it really present in the Atc unit? Do you think that Narcissism in the Atc unit is a good thing?
The condition is derived from the legend of Narcissus and Echo. The picture at the top tells the whole story. Narcissism is gaining attention from organizational and behavioral analysts because it has been identified to be at the root of a lack of ethical practices in organizations. A lack of organizational ethics negatively affects the wellbeing of employees. The extent to which this is happening in the Atc unit is not yet established. 
Yes, Narcissism is present according to 2 case studies on Controllers. The cases were 50 Atcos from the Caribbean and 139 controllers from around the world. The present inventory WICA 2013 will test for Narcissism also. I am going to use SEM (statistical analysis) to estimate the impact of narcissism on an Atco's wellbeing. I will also utilize psychometric scoring to estimate the extent to which narcissism is present in the Atc unit.
In the absence of our data analyses, we will use a West african/Caribbean folk tale and 2 other case studies to understand the role of narcissism. As already stated, the condition is at the root of  unethical organizational practices. Alternatively, it engenders passive abusive supervision and workplace bullying or hectormania.
These conditions are also psychological and behavioral. This means that IFATCA's work on Just Culture or de facto modes of operation in the Atc unit is by no means a simple task. To help us grasp the depth of the insidious nature of narcissism we start with the West African folk tale of Anancy and the pot of beans. You can read the story by clicking here.

Remember why Anancy stole the beans?
In the fourth post for June 2012, I recanted the Trinidadian version of this folk tale. Anancy is often depicted as a charismatic smooth talker who could persuade any other animal or human into believing him or doing things for him that they will not normally do. The french call it  <<escroquerie>>. 
Anancy stole the beans because he was angry that his father-in-law did not serve the beans first since it was his favorite dish. He also wanted to ensure that he got the biggest share. He was the mayor of the village and his father-in-law held a feast in honour of his supposedly good deeds to get food for the village. Anancy had placed the bean stew under his hat and that was how he was found guilty.
From an organizational psychological perspective, he stole the beans because he was narcissistic. The story is filled with phrases about his self-aggrandizing nature.  
In the Atc unit, however, where does narcissism come from? Have you ever heard the following remarks made about your colleagues? "Controllers are resistant to change." "Controllers do not appreciate what they have." "Controllers do not care." Well, narcissism is generated from among the Atcos on the floor, the AOFs. No, that statement is incorrect. Narcissism starts with management. 
I cite the examples of 2 studies which show that top management is the source of narcissism.*  Yes it starts from there and it trickles downward in the form of passive abusive supervision and bullying. [*Mawritz et al (2012); Chatterjee & Hambrick (2007)]
When we are ill, there are clues that help the doctor to identify the illness. Similarly, there are clues that can help us to determine the extent to which narcissism is present in the Atc unit. Why not take a few moments and ponder over the following checklist?**

Checklist for the Presence of Narcissism
---Effective leadership is largely absent
---The organization, its mission and its accomplishments are described in grandiose terms, accompanied by grand thoughts and ideas for the future
---A sense of organizational suffering from the lack of leadership
---Flagrant disregard for laws and ethics
---Indifference to the organization's future
---Evidences of insensitivity to customers and clients
---Ignoring and marginalizing employees who are not team players or who question the modes of organizational operation
---Accepting the status quo and mediocrity is the norm
---Leaders and managers and employees are sensitive to and overly responsive to criticism
---No apparent drive to succeed
---There is a focus on team-playing and togetherness but the motives are ulterior and are aimed at discouraging personal growth, attainment and group achievement
---There exists an accumulation of organizational deadwood, stories about double standards and an unwillingness to address performance issues
---Organizational resources are used to reward supporters and are used against or withheld from the out-group
---Failures are covered up, forgotten, dismissed or preempted by more grand plans
---Inattention to detail to successfully implement ideas create marginal outcomes
---Leaders seek opportunities to show themselves off and use the organization as a label to achieve attention and recognition
---Open or subtle shaming of individuals who try to be legitimately or morally different
---There is a sense of directionlessness
**[adapted from First & Tasman (2004); Godkin & Allcorn (2009)]

Narcissism is infectious. How did you do with the miniature NPI at the begining of the post? To calculate your score, simply add the values of items 1), 4), 5) and 6). Then subtract the values for the remainder of the items: 2), 3), 7) and 8). A total negative score indicates that you have narcissistic tendencies and that narcissism is likely to be floating around in the Atc unit.  However, a positive score is no indication that narcissism is not present. 
Remember the 2 cases with Atcos already prove that it exists in Atc units. There is also a behavioral motivation for narcissism to be present in each unit. This topic will be discussed at next year's conference! But in case you cannot attend, you will read about it in another post...
Have a good evening everyone!
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1 comment :

  1. I put the link in for the story in case you were wondering about finding it. Simply click on the highlighted word "here" above the photo of Anancy and voila! Bom dia o todo!