Narcissistic leaders can get us into serious trouble.
They may make decisions that suit their ego while paying little attention to the feelings and needs of others. According to an article by Preston Ni in the Psychology Today website, “A narcissistic manager may also exploit you without proper compensation or regard for your rights…”
Rebecca Knight, in the How to Work for a Narcissistic Boss article in the Harvard Business Review website, warns that the narcissistic boss “does not care for the good of the company.” Quoting Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology at University College London, she adds, “The worst thing you can do to a narcissistic individual is to criticize, challenge, or undermine him.”
“If you do, he will react in an aggressive and combative way. And he will seek revenge.”
The Blinkist summary of The Narcissist You Know by Joseph Burgo also cautions: “They react furiously to even the smallest disagreement. And once you become their enemy, they will do everything to destroy you –even if it means lying under oath. “
Clayton Geoffreys, in the book Narcissistic Personality Disorder, describes the narcissists as persons who are “selfish, self-centered, egotistical, over-confident, and “full of themselves.” Narcissism is a psychological belief that one is more superior, more important, intelligent, etc., than everyone else. Another common turn of phrase is they believe they are “better than everyone."
Aside from irritating all of us in the office, the narcissist can actually do so much harm. Preston Ni wrote “They’re prone to taking short cuts and taking large or small advantages of people and the system...Many narcissists think that they are above the law, and should be exceptions to the rules."
How do we spot a self-absorbed leader ?
Many of us are trusting at first because, as Chamorro-Premuzic observed, “A narcissist comes across as charming, charismatic and confident." “He seems like the kind of guy you want to work for –it’s only later that you see the dark side."
Such dark side can be seen in this list by Preston Ni in the article 10 Signs Your Boss/Manager is a Narcissist :
1. Insensitive to employees
2. Uses you as an extension of her selfish agenda
3. Name and status dropper
4. Spotlight hogger – like to hear themselves talk
5. Reluctant to give you credit
6. Steal or take disproportional credit
7. Break rules and ethical norms
8. Sensitive to criticism. Blame others for failings
9. Superior/Inferior Orientation ( “calculated to sway you to give them what they want.")
10. Negative and toxic emotions.
This is the list of narcissistic signs, according to Geoffreys:
3. Finicky Standards
4. High Expectations
5. Demanding Special Treatment
6. Exploiting Others
7. Lack of Empathy
8. Envy ( “There is anger at anyone who has proof of actually being better or more successful…)
How to deal with them
Chamorro-Premuzic advises that we can stoke their ego. “They want people to love them." However, he suggests that we do it when we’re alone with them “so as not to alienate other colleagues.” We don’t want people talking about how we play politics. We may also make them look good before their boss.
Knight says we will not learn how to be a good boss from them. But there are traits we can borrow because they can be good communicators, visionary and inspirational.
Knight’s article suggests that if we can live with them, we can stay. But if we find their “domination and control” destructive, then we have to get out.
Burgo’s advise is for us to take care of our self-esteem. “When people try to make you feel inferior, you’ll always know that you are alright.” (Blinkist summary)
I am lucky I never had a boss that we may call an egomaniac. But if it happens to me in the hypothetical future, these are my options:
1. If I have a sense of mission in the company, I will stay. I will just make sure I do my job well so that my egoistic boss can have no ammunition against me.
2. I will have a heart to heart with him in the hope that he can change. If he doesn’t change, I will report him to HR or the President or the Chairman. That boss will one day get fired and I will outlive him.
3. If I don’t even love my company or my work, I will leave. I don’t need you!
4. Before I leave, I will report him to the President or the Chairman so that the others will be saved.
If you have concerns about your job or if you wish to suggest a topic, you may email me at [email protected]
Read more about ExecuTips on www.robertlabayen.com
About the Author:
Robert Labayen spent 22 years in advertising prior to joining ABS-CBN in 2004. He was VP-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Executive Creative Director at J. Walter Thompson, two of the country's leading ad agencies. He is currently the Head of Creative Communications Management at ABS-CBN. His job involves inspiring people to be their best. He is a writer, painter and songwriter.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.