Thursday, May 20, 2010

Prince: The Fusion of Charisma & Narcissism

An example of narcissism fused with charismatic leadership, in a nontraditional sense, is the musician Prince. Since 1977, Prince has maintained total creative control over his work including: writing, producing, singing and playing all the instruments on his recordings. Unlike many groups who begin as equal partners splitting revenue proportionally, Prince has switched out band members according to necessity. Reportedly, Prince is notorious for having a tight rein on his individual work as well as the acts he produces. There have been countless books extolling the virtues of collaborations and team building. While, Prince has worked repeatedly with some of the same artists, he shifted the big group concept of the 1960s and 1970s opting to use technology to truncate the process. Where ten to fifteen musicians used to frequent a performance, Prince used five musicians, excluding himself. Singlehandedly, Prince slashed the notion of big bands and summarily ushered in the one- man show with the big band sound. Prince showed the dispensability of artists under his tutelage as he formed different bands as he experimented with new music. Charismatic leaders find innovative means of trumpeting their mission when the number of adherents is paltry. For the charismatic narcissist, this speaks to the notion that the mission, crusade or idea is bigger than individuals. Individuals are mere means to an end and operate to bring bigger-than-life ideas to life.