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Narcissistic Bosses - RUN

Here is some interesting data for you. 5% of the population has narcissistic personality disorder. Therefore, you are guaranteed to have a few people, likely bosses, you have worked with. It is hell, and my only advice is to RUN.


This is a problem for L&D because we are called to coach, train or guide, but what can we do with a personality disorder????


Let's look at what they do.


Narcissistic bosses always put themselves in situations where they can be seen as the “hero” or the “victim” of the story. If you had a narcissistic boss, you know the pain. I had two, which allowed me to see a pattern and work out the “best” approach to dealing with them.


Authenticity (they have zero of it) and a short, matter-of-fact talk style are the best antidotes to narcissism. However, if you are unlucky enough to have one, I recommend you RUN. The amount of energy it takes to manage them isn’t worth it.


What are the signs?


It is all about them – Our morning briefings were always about them and their stories. We would sit there for an hour listening to what had happened to them. Not 5% of these stories are true. They are made up. Why? Next point.


They have fantasies of greatness – They are the best at everything, so they think. They would create stories or magnify events to show success, power or brilliance.


But the worst part was the narcissistic cycle, as it is called in psychology. This is their strategy:


- They love bomb you! At first, you will be the best thing that has happened since sliced bread, until you are not. When you are no longer useful to them or when you point things out, they change tactics.

- They devalue your opinion, feeling, or observation, criticise and gaslight you! They create a new reality where you start questioning yourself. This is when you step back from the relationship.

- Once you cut the relationship, first, the narcissist will play the victim and create situations where they need your help so they can get close to you again. My boss asked me to take her to the hospital, then told everyone I wanted to do that. I hate hospitals, so I would be the last person to volunteer. They apologise, make promises, and basically do anything that makes you like them again. When they realise you are done with them, they start focusing on getting rid of you.

- They manipulate every team member against each other because they thrive in chaos. In chaos where you are busy with “who said what?”, you don't have time to pay attention to the narcissist. Sometimes I even asked myself the question, "What is true here????" They hide behind the toxic environment they create. Our boss actively manipulated everyone by telling us stories about what the others said behind our backs. She didn’t know that we were very close, and we always knew what was happening. They also do this to discard you from the team. Because if people buy their stories, you will soon be an outcast, which impacts your performance, so they can get you fired or get you to the point where you voluntarily leave.


However, most of the time, once you make your boundaries clear and you are not a threat to them, they leave you alone. This is my tactic with them. It works. They move on to the next victim, and you get to watch the same thing happening to others.


Other traits:

- Zero respect for boundaries

- They are using the "divide and conquer" strategy

- They make you feel like s...t with comments and stories and by attacking your character and ruining your reputation. They constantly talk behind everyone's back.

- Mood swings

- All talk, no action when it comes to work

- Never admit mistakes and blame others

- They "forget" or deny their actions and behaviours

- A real charmer

- They use anger and aggression as a tool


One clear sign of a narcissist is that you never know the truth and are in a constant state of confusion......


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