In With The New Boss Same As The Old Boss My Experience With a Narcissistic Boss

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My Experience With a Narcissistic Boss

Narcissists have an exaggerated self-image and seek constant feedback to justify their perceived omnipotence. They refuse to accept blame, will manipulate people and events for their own selfish ends, and react with rage when their omnipotence is questioned or threatened. It is estimated that less than one percent of the population suffers from narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Most narcissists, about 75 percent, are male. With a world population of about 6.5 billion people, about 16,250,000 narcissists are female. I had the unpleasant experience of working for one of them. I found it hard to reconcile in my mind how this woman could be sociable and pleasant outside the office and be indifferent, demanding and hard to please when not surrounded by an adoring and fantastic audience until I discovered the definition of NPD about a year ago. .

A narcissist seeks excessive admiration and will put himself in a position to receive it. Narcissists are experts at getting people to admire them. Time and time again I have seen people fall under the spell of this woman’s grand and exuberant stories of success, individual craft, unmatched brilliance and self-confidence. Typical of a narcissist, she is capable of becoming the center of attention in any situation and can be quite charming. At the beginning of my exposure to her, I too fell under her spell. I was in awe of someone who demanded and received favorable priority treatment from everyone. Through my association with him I met television personalities and national government figures. I also heard her abuse and mock the same people when they didn’t get a chance to make her request. When a TV personality’s schedule would not allow him to reappear at our national conference, he was referred to as a sawed-off little bastard who is more concerned about his TV ratings than helping the law enforcement profession. When the attorney general refused to take her grant request up the chain of command and push it for approval, he was called a spineless Mexican yes-man.

Narcissists demonstrate arrogant and arrogant attitudes accompanied by rage when challenged or questioned. My initial first-hand experience with this happened when, over a friendly drink after work, our boss asked me and a co-worker what needed to be changed to make the office work better. Innocently believing that she really wanted our input, we told her. Unbeknownst to us, our observations and recommendations were perceived as criticism of her. Narcissists do not admit fault or admit mistakes; everything that is wrong is someone else’s fault. Narcissists are easily offended and will hold grudges. She controlled her rage that evening, but my colleague and I were attacked by it for the next two months as we bore the brunt of her rudeness, impossible demands and constant unwarranted criticism.

Time and time again I have seen new employees grow weary of the constant barrage of bragging and arrogance as they begin to need and seek real guidance and supervision. Narcissists will sacrifice being liked to achieve admiration and have little use for those who are no longer fascinated. Narcissistic bosses are prone to temper tantrums, especially if a subordinate displays skills that might overshadow the boss’s skills or show some independent thinking. Narcissists do not accept the contributions of others. More than one employee has remarked on more than one occasion that a simple “thank you” or “job well done” would be a welcome break from the hectic atmosphere that pervades the office. She constantly criticizes employees behind other employees’ backs to ensure that those who do a good job get some respect from their peers.

Narcissists will manipulate people and events to make themselves look good. I have never known such an expert connoisseur as this woman. From pitting employees against each other to rewriting history, this woman is an expert at manipulation. Anyone who questions her motives or contradicts her memories will suffer her wrath. Typical of a narcissist, she is so adept at using people to achieve her personal desires that the person is unaware that they are being used. A typical example of this is its tendency to hire people who are completely unqualified for the job. She sets them up for failure so she can later belittle them for their incompetence. She also hires people who are not only unqualified but also have personal problems. Previous employees have included pregnant and unmarried women, people with a history of substance abuse, and people with emotional problems. Those employees were grateful to be “saved” and provided the adoration and worship that a narcissist craves. They were all surprised when, a few months after hiring them, she no longer required their particular type of worship and fired them for their incompetence. Narcissists are social misfits, constantly changing the rules and introducing new variables. A narcissist’s employees never have a clear picture of what is expected of them because expectations are in a constant state of flux. My colleagues and I refer to the constantly turbulent office environment as “mood of the moment” management.

Narcissists are great actors. A narcissist may appear to be the perfect manager, deceiving those they report to, while treating employees more like robots than human beings, setting unrealistic goals and talking down to them. The narcissist uses subtle brainwashing and control techniques to keep employees in their place of subservience while appearing to others to be a fair, caring, and competent manager. Last year a member of the board of directors, one of the “adorable fans”, left that position and became an employee. She resigned after only six months, disappointed and disillusioned after seeing for herself what this woman as a boss is really like and knowing that this narcissist puts on an act for her board of directors. Her ability to interweave and manipulate ensures that the only people who serve on the board of directors are malleable and naive fans.

A narcissist thrives in a position of authority. His subordinates provide an endless supply of the awe, fear, admiration, adoration and obedience that is required. An employee who fails to provide this necessary nourishment is quickly devalued by the narcissistic boss. This also feeds the narcissists need to show the world how they should handle everything because they cannot depend on anyone. When this woman goes off on a tangent complaining that she has to handle everything on all nine tables because the employees are so incompetent, some of us comment that she’s crucified again. An article I read described a narcissistic leader as a monstrously inverted Jesus who believes he is sacrificing his life because no one else can be qualified to do the job.

It is difficult to identify a narcissist. It took me over twelve years to identify the root cause of this woman’s erratic behavior. Narcissists can be fascinating personalities. Only upon close observation does it become clear that the narcissist is selfish, self-absorbed, protective, emotionally needy, and willing to trample over anyone to achieve their goals. Because of the instability of the situation and the resulting high tension and stress, it is not uncommon for employees of narcissistic bosses to develop high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal problems, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and other diseases. For nearly fourteen years I watched my colleagues develop one or another of these conditions. Narcissists will never admit they have a problem or seek treatment voluntarily, and the behavior seems to worsen over time. I eventually learned to play the game with her to keep the peace until I could leave her emotionally unhealthy workplace environment.

Sources:

http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/popclockworld.html

http://psychologytoday.com/articles/index.php?term=pto-20051209-000005&page=1

http://www.healthyplace.com/communities/Personality_Disorders/narcissism/faq11.html

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder/DS00652

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=38103

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=12599

http://www.focusas.com/PersonalityDisorders.html

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