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Follower Narcissism and Leader-Directed Behaviors: The Role of Relational Grandiosity
Research has shown that narcissistic people tend to self-enhance when evaluating their agentic traits, such as intelligence and competence. The current work proposes that narcissists’ grandiose self-perceptions extend to their relationships with their leaders: Narcissistic followers believe that they have formed better relationships with their leaders compared to their peers (LMXSC), even when there is no basis for such beliefs. Drawing on conservation of resources (COR) theory, we propose that an elevated relational standing is a valued organizational resource, which motivates followers to protect their relationship with leaders and leverage it to accumulate other resources. The “relational grandiosity” of narcissistic subordinates thus enables them to more readily engage in relationship maintenance behaviors with their leaders and seek instrumental support from them. We find support for our hypotheses across four studies (N = 1,650). We discuss their implications for narcissists’ ability to get ahead in organizations by building relational capital with and soliciting instrumental help from their leaders.