Our community had this question: “Why do narcissists lose so many of their jobs?” I searched for answers. Here’s what I came up with.

For the most part, narcissists lose their jobs because they have difficulty with teamwork and collaboration, they can’t accept constructive criticism, they have a sense of entitlement, they are manipulative and unethical, they overestimate their abilities, and because they can be excessively jealous and competitive.

In this article, I’ll explain each one of these six reasons to help you understand the reason narcissists often don’t last long in work environments.

1.) They Have Difficulty with Teamwork and Collaboration

Narcissists often struggle with teamwork because they value their thoughts, feelings, opinions, needs, etc., over those of others. 

In a work environment, this can lead to conflicts within a team, as they may not listen to, value, or flat-out dismiss their colleagues’ input.

Dominating team projects and sidelining others’ contributions can and often does, create an unproductive and hostile work environment.

Which, generally speaking, is grounds for firing.

For example, imagine you’re on a team working on a marketing campaign. 

A narcissist at work.

A narcissistic colleague insists on implementing their ideas exclusively, dismissing others’ suggestions without consideration. 

This behavior demoralizes the team and leads to a one-dimensional campaign that fails to incorporate the diverse perspectives and ideas necessary for success. 

Over time, this inability to work collaboratively could lead to the narcissist’s dismissal, as the team’s performance suffers due to the lack of cooperation and inclusion.

2.) They Can’t Accept Constructive Criticism

Believe it or not, narcissists have fragile self-esteem.1

This means they have feelings of self-worth that are uncertain or unstable, based on unrealistically positive self-views, and easily challenged.2

People with fragile self-esteem tend to seek frequent validation or reassurance of their positive self-views. 

Because of this, they are often preoccupied with protecting and enhancing their self-esteem, often at the expense of other people.3

Why am I telling you all of this?

Well, the fragile self-esteem narcissists have causes them to react incredibly poorly to any criticism or feedback.

In fact, they often view criticism and feedback as personal attacks rather than an opportunity for growth. 

This defensiveness can make it difficult for them to improve their performance or adapt to new roles and responsibilities, which is often necessary in a professional setting.

For example, consider a scenario where a manager gives a narcissistic employee constructive feedback on a report.

Instead of accepting the feedback, the employee sees this as a personal attack and either reacts with anger or dismisses the feedback entirely. 

This reaction hinders their professional development and strains their relationship with supervisors and colleagues.

Over time, this type of unprofessional behavior can cause the narcissistic employee to lose their job.

Related: 7 Ways Narcissists React to Criticism

3.) They Have a Sense of Entitlement 

One of the core characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a sense of entitlement.4

This is defined as a sense of deservingness or being owed a favor when little or nothing has been done to deserve special treatment.5 

It’s the “you owe me” attitude. 

At work, this sense of entitlement often causes narcissists to:

  1. Expect special treatment.
  2. Demand unearned privileges. 
  3. Set unrealistic expectations for their career progression.
  4. Feel deserving of unearned promotions or raises.

The list could go on and on, but the point is that this type of behavior can lead to conflicts with management and colleagues.

A narcissist showing their sense of entitlement.

For example, imagine a narcissistic employee who demands a significant promotion after only a few months, citing their “superior” intelligence and abilities. 

When their demand is not met, they become resentful and disengaged and even go as far as undermining others or reducing their productivity.

As you can imagine, this behavior is deemed unacceptable by most companies and will eventually lead to the narcissist being let go.

4.) They Are Manipulative and Unethical

Two core characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) are a willingness to exploit others and a lack of empathy.6

The combination of the two often causes narcissists to use manipulative or unethical behaviors to achieve their goals, believing that the ends justify the means. 

This can include taking credit for others’ work, lying about their achievements, or even sabotaging colleagues to appear more competent. 

Such behaviors can erode trust within the workplace and, once discovered, can lead to immediate dismissal.

For example, consider a narcissistic individual who takes credit for a successful project they had little to do with. 

Initially, this might earn them praise and recognition, but when the truth comes out — and it often does — the damage to their reputation can be irreparable. 

Colleagues may refuse to work with them, and management may see them as a liability, leading to their eventual firing.

Related: Will a Narcissist Try to Get Revenge?

5.) They Tend to Overestimate Their Abilities

Due to their grandiosity and arrogance, narcissists unsurprisingly have a tendency to overestimate their abilities.7

This causes them to take on more than they can handle because they genuinely believe they are capable of achieving far more than is realistic. 

This overconfidence can lead to missed deadlines, subpar work quality, and failed projects, affecting the company’s bottom line and their own job security.

For example, let’s say the narcissist in your life volunteers to lead a project and are convinced they can deliver it in half the usual time. 

A narcissist overestimating their abilities.

Despite warnings from the team about the ambitious timeline, they push ahead, citing their “superior” intellect and capabilities. 

As the deadline approaches, it becomes clear the narcissist won’t complete the project on time. 

This failure affects the company’s plans and highlights the narcissist’s inability to assess and manage their capabilities realistically, leading to a serious reevaluation of their role in the company.

6.) They Can Be Excessively Jealous and Competitive

Narcissists can be excessively competitive, to the point where they view their colleagues’ successes as threats to their own status. 

This jealousy can drive them to engage in counterproductive behaviors, such as:

  • Hoarding information.
  • Backstabbing.
  • Undermining their colleagues’ achievements.

These counterproductive behaviors are grounds for firing because they are unethical, poison workplace relationships, and erode trust.

For example, imagine a narcissist getting jealous because one of their coworkers received praise for a well-executed presentation.

Instead of congratulating them, they point out minor flaws in their work or spread rumors about how they took all the credit for a team effort. 

This behavior damages the narcissist’s relationships with colleagues and can also lead to disciplinary action if their actions come to light, possibly resulting in job loss.

Related: Why Do Narcissists Get So Jealous?

For more helpful information like this, visit Unfilteredd’s Institute of Healing from Narcissistic Abuse today.

What Should You Take Away from This Article?

As a general rule, the six reason narcissists often lose their jobs are:

  • They have difficulty with teamwork and collaboration.
  • They can’t accept constructive criticism.
  • They have a sense of entitlement.
  • They are manipulative and unethical.
  • They overestimate their abilities.
  • They can be excessively jealous and competitive.

Thanks a lot for reading!

If you’ve got any comments, questions, or something you’re curious about, don’t be shy—leave a comment below. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

If you are looking for more information on narcissism in the workplace, our latest articles are a great resource. They’re clear and filled with the details you need.

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About the Author

Hey, I’m Elijah.

I experienced narcissistic abuse for three years. 

I create these articles to help you understand and validate your experiences.

Thank you for reading, and remember, healing is possible even when it feels impossible.

Unfilteredd has strict sourcing guidelines and only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our content. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, actionable, inclusive, and trustworthy by reading our editorial process.

  1. Zeigler-Hill, Virgil, Erin M. Myers, and C. Brendan Clark. “Narcissism and self-esteem reactivity: The role of negative achievement events.” Journal of Research in personality 44.2 (2010): 285-292. ↩︎
  2. Jordan, Christian H., and Virgil Zeigler-Hill. “Fragile self-esteem.” Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2020. 1637-1640. ↩︎
  3. Ibid. ↩︎
  4. Julie Marks. (2024. February, 13). Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Signs, Traits, and Tests. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/narcissistic-personality-disorder ↩︎
  5. WebMD. (2021. October, 25). What Is an Entitlement Mentality? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-an-entitlement-mentality ↩︎
  6. Cleveland Clinic. Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9742-narcissistic-personality-disorder ↩︎
  7. Zajenkowski Marcin, Maciantowicz Oliwia, Szymaniak Kinga, Urban Paweł. “Vulnerable and Grandiose Narcissism Are Differentially Associated With Ability and Trait Emotional Intelligence.” Frontiers in Psychology 9 (2018) ↩︎

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