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Home / Public Resources  / Do You Have To Be A Narcissist To Be A Good Leader?

Maybe, maybe not.

At Atticus, prior to working with anyone, we give them a DISC Behavioral Profile, which measures how they tend to act in their professional environment. This test is one of the most scientifically validated of all the behavioral tests out there. After working with thousands of attorneys and doing this for many years, we’ve accumulated a substantial body of knowledge about attorneys and their behavioral tendencies.

Along the way we’ve encountered a few surprises. One of them concerns attorneys whose DISC profiles demonstrate that they are cautious, risk-averse individuals with a high need to comply with rules and do things correctly. These quiet but highly competent lawyers are found in almost every practice area – except those with a heavy emphasis on litigation. As a rule, they tend to avoid the spotlight almost as much as they avoid confrontation of any kind.

These quiet tendencies mean they definitely don’t fit the entrepreneurial image we have of law firm leaders. Generally speaking, lawyers who exhibit a strong desire for predictability don’t enjoy the high level of risk associated with starting and running a law firm.

Yet they do. And, according to our research, they do so in great numbers.

In fact, we find that attorneys who operate with the leadership style referred to as the Humble Leader by the authors of The 8 Dimensions of Leadership are at the helm of a great many firms.

These soft-spoken leaders are often seen as unassuming, friendly and able to bring a sense of calm where chaos reigns. For clients in crisis, their even temperament and diplomatic approach has a soothing effect on their roller-coaster emotions. When clients put their problems into the hands of this leader and his firm, their case is likely to be handled well and systematically brought to closure using time-tested methods.

The Humble Leader is not experimental or adventurous in her dealings with clients – or for that matter with any aspect of their business. They’re interested in doing things right and doing them right the first time.

This usually means they become experts in their field with a tendency to get results using traditional, familiar methods. They don’t possess the creative drive and urge to innovate that is irresistible to other leaders because they operate in a careful and controlled manner, pushing for change only when it’s proven to be beneficial. Consequently, they build teams of loyal staff members who appreciate their sense of self-control and even temperament in a profession that breeds ego-driven personalities.

Humble Leaders aren’t motivated by the needs of their ego. Their motivation lies in their strong desire to help people and to do so using their own brand of practical, applied expertise. There’s nothing showy or glamorous about their leadership style: reliability and dependability are the two most important drivers of this attorney’s success. From what we’ve observed over the years, they prove you don’t have to be a narcissist to be a good leader.

Atticus, Inc.

This article was written by an Atticus staff member.

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