The Dangers of Complacence and Narcissism in Your Business writer Margaret Heffernan is asked for professional advice by many organizations.  When a senior manager asked why they come to her, she explained, “Most organizations are complacent and narcissistic.  They imagine they’re better than they are.  And they are more inward-looking than outward.  On both points, they miss their opportunities to improve.”

Often moderate business success can lead owners into a rut of satisfaction and contentment that limits an organization’s potential.  In her article entitled “Most Companies are Complacent and Narcissistic,” Heffernan details the dangers of becoming too comfortable in your business.


It’s easy to slip into complacence when your company is withstanding the recession.  It’s even easier when your company enjoys a good reputation and a solid clientele.  But when you become satisfied with your current standing, you risk losing out on many opportunities for improvement.  Heffernan used one business as an example, explaining that in this particular organization, “There are many areas of the business which are merely adequate.  Some are even inadequate.  The fact that the company is regularly cited as excellent doesn’t pertain to everything they do or everyone they hire.  But it’s human nature to dwell on the great news and discount the rest.”

If you find yourself complacent in your business, it may be time to raise your expectations and revise your business plan. Assess your current standing and raise the bar.  Considering the fair position you currently hold, things can only get better from here.


Sometimes businesses focus so much attention on company organization and output that they forget they originally launched their business to serve a specific demographic; they forget the importance of their customers.  Heffernan explains, “When companies start, they are fueled by awareness of the market, usually because spotting need is what led to the company’s creation in the first place.  Entrepreneurs start with great zeitgeist—but as the business becomes bigger and more complex, it demands more attention.  Focus shifts, slowly but surely, from the market to the organization itself.  Process becomes more important, even mission critical.  Before you know it, the business of running the business becomes all leadership thinks about.”

Narcissism is the act of being self-absorbed, a characteristic that doesn’t earn client loyalty.  If your business has been too self-centered lately, it’s time to turn your focus back to your clientele.  Consider issuing a survey through which they offer feedback on improving your service offerings.  In this, you remove some of the focus from the organization and place it back where it belongs, with customer service.

If you find yourself comfortable with your business, perhaps it’s time to perform a quick assessment.  Could what you currently define as satisfaction really be a mild case of complacency and narcissism?  If so, altering your focus and expectations could be all it takes to make your mildly successful business wildly successful.

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Heffernan, Margaret.  “Most Companies are Complacent and Narcissistic.”  8 February 2012