The Impossible Narcissist Boss
When growing up, I inherited a little desk plaque that read: “It’s hard to be humble when you are as great as I am.” A narcissist is a self-made man who worships his creator! In their inflated view, everything revolves around them. Do you know someone like that? What if that someone was your boss!
Nearly everyone I know has had a bad boss at one time or another during their careers. A recent Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers confirmed the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor. “People leave managers, not companies …. In the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue,” Gallup reported. Gallup also reported that poorly managed work groups are on average 50 percent less productive and 44 percent less profitable than well-managed groups. )
Surviving in a Hazardous Workplace: Some Practical Ideas:
- When confronting a bully boss, be specific about the behavior you find unacceptable and don’t get emotional.
- Learn to walk the fine line between complimenting a narcissist and “sucking up to them.” They tire of over-complimenting. And remember, just because they like you one month doesn’t mean they will like you the next.
- Don’t try to befriend the bully boss. Those who have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder are incapable of friendship or trust. If you share something in confidence it may be used against you later.
- Do not become a doormat. They tire of doormats. However, if you constantly challenge or contradict them, you are in for trouble. Decide what issues are worth fighting for and make your stand as tactfully as possible.
- Genuine compliments to the boss are good things.
- Don’t take explosions personal.
- Don’t let him know you know his game. Let him stay in his bubble. If you make it a crusade of delivering him from his bubble, you might as well look for another job.
- Employees should find ways to support each other as they weather the narcissistic storm.
To Leave Or Not To Leave?
To stay on the job and work with a narcissistic boss, one should ask these questions:
- Can I accept the fact that the boss has a personality disorder and is not going to change? Can I get beyond the desire to change him?
- Can I learn to walk the line with the boss? Am I willing to learn the special “dance” that helps me to compliment and confront when needed?
- If I can’t do the above, am I willing to make a job change?
For further reading: WORKING WITH THE SELF-ABSORBED: How to Handle Narcissistic Personalities on the Job, by Nina Brown, Ed.D., LPC, NCC. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2002.
“The big, bad boss: Poor management costly”:
©2014 Wally Johnston