Last week we looked at how to deal with control freak bosses and hollow superstar bosses. This week, it’s wily politicians and narcissists.
Those wily politicians are easy to spot – they’re the managers who extol whatever is flavour-of-the-month in the organisation and next month when it changes, their theme song does too. Wily politicians are verbal contortionists who rush towards power like iron filings to a magnate. To the wily politician, ‘It’s all about ME’ and their sole goal is to survive and thrive – whatever it takes and whoever else suffers.
Their political skills are actually quite awesome. Wily politicians always know exactly what the prevailing mood of the people who count most in the organisation is and some of them are so good, they can even predict changes in direction.
Maybe the worst thing about working for a wily politician is that they’re only concerned with the people ‘up the ladder’, the more senior managers – certainly not the people at their own level or, heaven forbid, those below their level! This means that if you work for a wily politician, your only value is how well you can help him or her look good and how quickly you respond to the changing fads they follow (or rather, give lip-service to).
When your boss is a wily politician who delivers at least minimal results, you can benefit from being part of their team and, provided you can offer solid performance, you’ll be highly prized for making your boss look good. When your wily politician boss is a non-performer, move on as fast as you can before your reputation suffers.
Narcissistic leaders are the ones who can ‘rally the troops’ and engage people’s hearts and minds but they also have massive ego problems. They adore the sounds of their own voices and tend to dominate meetings, even when it’s with more hot air than useful information and ideas.
Because they love themselves so much, narcissists are terrible coaches and mentors, so don’t expect to learn much from a narcissist boss. They’re often emotionally isolated, distrustful of others, self-involved and unpredictable, so unless you’re quite a strong person, they can easily destroy your self-confidence.
To top it off, narcissists are usually convinced they are always right, so they’ll take reckless risks and hear only what they want to hear. In fact, they tend to surround themselves with people who always agree and pander to their egos in all sorts of other ways.
There are five secrets to working for a self-centred self-admirer like this.
- Zip your lips when you disagree because putting forward an alternative point of view is very career-limiting.
- Make sure you don’t burst their over-inflated self-image bubble.
- Praise them like mad.
- Always communicate with a narcissist boss in terms of their own best interest.
- Don’t worry when they take all the credit for your ideas and hard work – that’s just what they do.