Employees do not leave companies but bosses! This is what a T3N article said back in 2019:the magazine quotes a Gallup report: Bosses are quite often the reason why employees quit. Almost 70% of the factors contributing to professional dissatisfaction are directly related to the manager.

If you’re also thinking about changing jobs because your boss is unbearable or a narcissist, then you should read this article. As a first step, I would like to discuss such intolerable behaviour and then examine whether dismissal is really the only solution.

The behaviour of bosses

Unfortunately, a study shows that the number of personality disorders is increasing massively, especially at the management level. A survey of nearly 850 executives by the German Graduate School of Management and Law shows that more than 300 people had a high personality disorder. Lawyers (36%), managers (27%) are particularly affected and doctors (22%). An even larger number shows a medium to mild personality disorder, especially in the area of managers.

The Dark Triad

Psychologists Delroy Paulhaus and Kevin Williams (University vancouver) conceived the so-called Dark Triad more than 15 years ago. The content is three specific personality disorders, which occur more and again in managers. The two psychologists found that employees in particular are often very difficult to change in their profession. Since managers have more freedom, they are more “you” than employees. Surely you will find one of these behaviors with your boss.

Dark Triad
The Dark Triad

The classic: Chef is a narcissist

The narcissist is most common. According to Wikipedia, narcissism is narcissism: the term narcissism in everyday psychology and colloquialism in the broadest sense stands for the self-love and self-admiration of a person who considers himself more important and valuable than judging observers characterize him.

Those who suffer from the personality disorder narcissism have to contend with a lack of self-esteem and strong sensitivity to criticism. People are constantly fighting for recognition. But where does narcissism come from?

Historical and psychological explanation

The term comes from Greek mythology of the river god Kephissos. His whole environment loved him and he had an incredible attraction. But out of pride and arrogance, he rejected them all. His self-love, however, was punished. There are two versions:

  • He looked into a mirror and saw his reflection. He tries to achieve it and realizes that this is not possible. Plagued by longing, he dies and turns into a narcissist.
  • Without realizing that it is his mirror image, Kephissos bends into the water to be close to the object of his love and drowns. At the place where he went into the water grew a narcissus.
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio – The Yorck Project (2002) 10,000 masterpieces of painting (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202. Wikipedia Public Service License

Imagine this in a person’s head like this: narcissists have a very small self-confidence and high doubts about themselves. They therefore need confirmation and admiration as well as status as boss. Ordinary people build their self-esteem on four feet. It is stable. The narcissist has only a shaky foot. With the slightest criticism or loss of status, this foot wobbles directly and threatens to overturn quickly. That’s why the narcissist goes to the ceiling so quickly.

Narcissism in everyday life

I experience narcissism as the most common form among managers and I have often dealt with it in the past. As a management consultant, we have generally been specially trained on this type of character. In concrete terms, I would like to give a few more examples of what such behaviour looks like in everyday life.

  • Uncritical: Kritikfähig: Every criticism is harshly slammed back and immediately seen as an attack.
  • There are no errors There is no admitting of a mistake. It’s always the others. What about success? Of course, they are only attributed to themselves!
  • Self-actor: Narcissists can appear extraordinarily nice, friendly and charismatic, especially at the beginning. They present themselves well to achieve your goals.
  • There are no needs of others: It is difficult to make a change of perspective (empathy). The needs of others are not met, because it does not promote one’s own goals. I believe that daffodils do not lead people but you manage resources like characters.

Fighting or talking to top management?

I often receive three concrete tips from coaches and hr developers, which I have often seen implemented by other employees in practice. Unfortunately, all three have never been successful.

  • Seek direct conversation
  • Escalating top management
  • Wait for the boss to go

Narcissists don’t talk! – direct conversation

A conversation with a narcissist can actually be forgotten. Daffodils suffer from extreme insecurity and any criticism is fended off. One feels attacked and the other person is perceived directly as an enemy. You can be sure that He will make life hell for you.

That a narcissist changes fundamentally is hardly possible in the job. I’ve only seen once that someone has wanted to change through therapy and it has worked. However, this is an absolute isolated case.

Bosses are often too tight in the saddle – escalation in top management

I experience that narcissists are often very tight in the saddle and there is hardly any way to displace them. The top management often picks it up and either it doesn’t happen or a direct conversation is sought between you and the boss. The consequence is as already described above. Everything is denied and the top management will cover its manager. Unfortunately, in 5 years, I have experienced that someone has succeeded in doing so.

Bosses don’t switch – waiting isn’t worth it

Also the tip that one should wait for the boss to go, “He will not stay in position for long with this behavior”. I see that most of them are in one position for many years to come. In my opinion, it is not worth waiting. Especially for executives, it is not easy to change. On the one hand, managers already have a high salary and, on the other hand, managers are often not even sought in companies.

An article by Monster shows that in times of flat hierarchies, even the number of managers decreases: no growth, only replacement needs! Furthermore, I have only very rarely and only after a very long time experienced that an executive has been transferred or even terminated due to numerous dismissals. So in 90% of cases you can assume that your boss stays a very long and it’s up to you whether you get along with the boss or not!

What to do? Slime, distance, be an expert or escape

So what to do now? I have found a total of four possibilities. The first option is slime,which is especially important in the context of service providers and management consultants when you are dependent on the customer. Narcissists are always on the lookout for confirmation and are therefore prone to flattery and praise.

A second option is to keep distance. I often see this especially in large companies. Get out of the way of the person. They remain under the radar. This is especially good if you are very satisfied with your job and do not want to change or ascend at the moment. The narcissist will leave you alone when he realizes that you will not become dangerous. Beware, however, as soon as you could be better than him, he starts to fight you.

The third option is to be an expert on something. They are irreplaceable for the company. The boss cannot achieve his goals without you and is dependent on your knowledge. You will notice that the boss is flattering you.

If these three options do not help you, then there is possibility four: Escape! Especially high dissatisfaction in the job and stress can have a negative impact on private life and promote chronic diseases. Protect yourself and write applications diligently.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/photos/despaired-businessman-business-2261021/

Genderhinweis: Ich habe zur leichteren Lesbarkeit die männliche Form verwendet. Sofern keine explizite Unterscheidung getroffen wird, sind daher stets sowohl Frauen, Diverse als auch Männer sowie Menschen jeder Herkunft und Nation gemeint. Lesen Sie mehr dazu.

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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