I just finished reading a fascinating article in which the researchers studied data from the NBA 2013-14 season. What does the NBA have to do with Steinwall, Inc., you ask? At first glance, basketball players and injection molders are certainly not using the same skill set. However, basketball players are team members and so are injection molders – that commonality was important enough for me to read on.

The article reported the results from a study that looked at if narcissists block teams from achieving success. The article defined narcissists as people who “tend to be entitled, arrogant, have inflated self-importance, and lack empathy for others” (Grijalva, Maynes, Badura, & Whiting, 2019). We all have crossed paths with a very talented molder, salesperson, engineer, or CEO, to name a few, who do not play well with others. It is as if they have their own playbook. Managers often don’t push this person to conform to the cultural expectations because their individual performance is just so good – how could we get along without them?

A common assumption is that individual behaviors have nothing to do with productivity. Narcissistic high-performing individuals are unpleasant to work with, but they don’t hurt team overall productivity – do they? According to the findings from this research study, teams with higher levels of narcissism had poorer coordination and in turn, poorer performance. Team narcissism was measured by combining individual narcissism scores. The total of all team members’ scores determined the team narcissism score.

Teams with lower narcissism experienced improved results over time. The researchers found that as low narcissist teams became familiar with each other, they out-perform the high narcissism teams. In other words, the NBA teams with higher-skilled, yet more narcissistic individuals, would start strong and stay relatively flat throughout the season oftentimes missing improvement opportunities. End-of-season data showed that high narcissistic teams did not win as many games as predicted. A team with lower levels of narcissism out-performed the predictions; they would start slower, but the more time they played together, they would adjust and ultimately perform better – win more games.

Steinwall’s success and continued focus are rooted in creating world-class teams with our internal staff and our customers. This humanistic approach is the fabric that differentiates Steinwall. Our reliable practice and constant research into teaming excellences is something our customers continue to enjoy and have enjoyed since 1965.


Maureen Steinwall, Steinwall, Inc. President, 2019

Grijalva, E., Maynes, T. D., Badura, K. L., & Whiting, S. W. (2019, Feb). Examing the “I” in team: A longitudinal investigation of the influence of team narcissism composition on team outcomes in the NBA. Academy of Management Journal. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2017.0218.