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The General Manager of Your Hotel is a Narcissist. The Dark Triad

image courtesy of E.Garely

The Dark Triad Personality Traits (DTP) includes Machiavellianism, Psychopathy, and Narcissism demonstrated by three behaviors.

You really like your colleagues; your guests are terrific and tip generously; the hotel is beautiful and while you would like a larger paycheck, the real reason you are unhappy and want to quit is that your General Manager is a narcissist with a Dark Triad Personality (DTP) and has created a toxic work environment.

Dark Triad Personality (DTP)

Melissa Hogan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Look closely at the following: The Dark Triad Personality Traits (DTP) includes Machiavellianism, Psychopathy, and Narcissism and they are three behaviors that are short-term, ego centric, and exploitive social strategies that correlate positively with the use of dishonest and manipulative behaviors. 

For those of us who are not narcissist managers it is necessary to recognize that it is these traits that enable men and women to build successful careers and secure promotions to c-suite positions where they have the potential to wreak considerable harm and havoc on the organization. The DTP traits are associated with embezzlement, white-collar crimes, unethical and risky decision-making, lower engagement in corporate social responsibility and likely to lead to the mistreatment of subordinates.

Differences and Similarities

•             Machiavellians are cynical, distrustful, and callous, strive for goals that include money, power and status, while using calculating and cunning manipulation tactics to get what they want.

•             Psychopaths are impulsive, thrill-seeking individuals who lack empathy, feelings of guilt, likely to lead an erratic lifestyle and display anti-social behaviors.

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•             Narcissists are likely to have a preoccupation with grandiose fantasies of self-importance.


o             Constantly need attention and admiration

o             Desire to be superior

o             Exploit staffers for personal gain

o             Extremely sensitive to criticism

o             Haughty

o             Fail to take feedback positively

o             Likely to encourage employees to instigate uncivil behaviors toward their colleagues

o             Seek special treatment from others

o             Demonstrate a strong sense of entitlement

o             Unable to understand and respect the feelings of others

o             Vane

Hotels Attract Narcissists

Hotel. (2022, August 15). In Wikipedia.

Like other service business sectors, the hospitality industry requires staff members to work in direct contact with customers and coworkers. Employees are expected to provide guests with an environment that delivers a good experience so they leave with pleasant memories. Therefore, employee behavior assumes increased importance in this people-oriented industry.

For the hotel to be successful, employees must always display positive behaviors for counterproductive actions (as subtle as workplace incivility) have the potential to disrupt the functioning of the organization and curtail productivity.

Workplace incivility is defined as, “low intensity and deviant behavior with ambiguous intent that harms the target in violation of workplace norms for mutual respect.” Disruptive behaviors include:

•             Piercing or sarcastic comments

•             Disrespect toward colleagues and guests

•             Crude remarks

•             Explosive anger

•             Harsh criticism

•             inconsiderate of others

•             Outbursts

What to Look For

You will know incivility when you see it. The behavior is evidenced by reduced work engagement, declining job performance, increased emotional exhaustion and rapid turnover.

Over the last decade, the hospitality industry has witnessed a dramatic rise in toxic leadership styles which are thought to be linked to destructive outcomes. When asked to describe a “bad manager,” employees note abusive and self-centered managers and these leaders are linked to creating high levels of behavioral stress, poor mental health, and low vitality among staff members. In some research, the toxic and negative leadership style is documented in such terms as an abusive or a destructive leader, or a leader from hell.

There are a few differences between a narcissistic leader and an abusive supervisor in terms of abuse of power.  Abusive managers engage in public humiliation, shouting, bullying and aggression toward employees while narcissists can be arrogant, lack empathy and are manipulative. Frequently they abuse their power by withholding or hiding information, denigrating the opinions of others and being less truthful than they otherwise should be in order to promote their own views.

Hotel Atmosphere

Because the narcissistic General Manager is such a threat to bottom-line profitability, hotel owners/administrators must take action:

1.            Wait! Look for it.

It is important to note that employees tend to become silent, cynical and spread negative gossip when they see their leaders are manipulative, arrogant, egotistical and dishonest. It is up to hotel executives to watch for the signs of impending doom.

Under the best of all situations, the narcissistic manger will never make it beyond the office of the Human Resources Manager and never be hired to fill a managerial slot; however, their A+ manipulative skills frequently allow them to slither into key managerial positions.

2.            STOP.

HR executives should use psychological and personality assessment tests to identify the narcissist from getting a foothold in the organization. The priority for hotel administrators must be directed toward hiring leaders with positive personality traits, including humility, wisdom, an openness to criticism, and acceptance to negative feedback.

3.            Penalty.

A clear punishment system must be in place and effectively implemented to minimize leaders’ negative behaviors and protect employees emotional and psychological well-being.

4.            Training.

Hotel administrators should require leaders to participate in training and development programs so they can avoid self-interest and abuse of power, creating an atmosphere characterized by integrity and teamwork.

They Are Among Us. Proceed with Caution

It is estimated that 6 percent of the US population has been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. This may be conservative as narcissistic managers, considering themselves as “perfect” rarely seek professional assistance. It is important to ferret them out, however, for if each of them was to narcissistically abuse over 5 people during their lifetime, they have impacted the lives of 97.8 million people. Extrapolated on a global scale, the damage caused by narcissists comes in at approximately 3.4 billion.


1.            Is your General Manager (GM) insensitive to you and your team?

Does your GM show disregard for the staff’s reasonable feelings and needs…unless you are a “favorite.”

Whether you are over-stretched with work issues, feeling ill, or having a bad day, and your GM has a “who cares” attitude and offers a “So what? Not my problem. You deal it. Leave if you want to” – you have a narcissistic boss. This person may move forward and exploit you, offering no compensation or regard for your rights and even schedule overtime without your consent, expecting unlimited loyalty. withholding praise for a job well done.

2.            Does your manager steal your ideas?

The narcissistic boss will exploit you for his/her own selfish reasons, putting your needs way below their needs and totally irrelevant to your job description. He/she may expect you to run personal errands, take on inappropriate chores, force you to work on their pet projects, increase your job responsibilities – all without appropriate compensation or acknowledgement.

3.            Who are you? Why should I care?

The narcissistic manager will constantly remind everyone of how important they are, the degrees they possess, the schools they attended, the exclusive groups they belong to, the VIPs they mingle with, the high-profile projects they are working on and how much recognition they receive from others high-up the food chain.

They spend all their time trying to appear important. The emphasize is on their status and they may even add a gold nameplate to their desk, place awards on their walls, line their tabletops with trophies along with photos of themselves with important people.

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About the author

Dr. Elinor Garely - special to eTN and editor in chief,

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