Do you ever get concerned that your manager might just be plotting a secret attack on a foreign nation?
You know the types—the ones who leave spit on your glasses from the roasting they gave you for work that didn’t meet their needs. The ones who happily gobble up the report you spent all weekend preparing just to scrub your name off and put their own in its place. Those types.
Some people will always try and climb the corporate ladder by kicking out at anyone below them who may threaten their ascension.
So what do you do when you fear your boss may be one of these dictators?
American Psycho (in both its original book form and the Christian Bale Hollywood re-working) highlighted the extreme end of narcissism in business.
Okay, your boss is very unlikely to be tossing chainsaws down stairwells, but the point is salient.
It is a long-held belief that the most successful people in business have narcissistic traits—A.K.A, they live in complete adoration of their own reflection.
This can result in a lack of compassion, empathy or even basic decency towards co-workers and subordinates.
Narcissism is a medical disorder which also carries with it a sense of entitlement and an inability to handle criticism.
Simply recognising these traits can help you. If your boss carries these tendencies, you can define healthy boundaries and know when to keep your distance.
How to survive when working under the iron fist
When you look at the most notable dictators of the world, they have one thing in common. They believe they are the most capable to rule, when in fact they are probably not.
This translates directly to the business world as well, where the most iron-fisted bosses are also least likely to be the right person to manage the team.
This is something to consider, because working under a dictator leads to poor morale, mistakes under pressure and poor decision making at every level. Is this the company for you?
On a very serious note, workplace bullying can never be tolerated in the modern world. Demeaning or degrading comments should never be accepted. If your boss is reaching those heights—be it emotionally or physically—it is extremely important to speak to your HR team and report these actions.
So if you are sure you want to continue with this company, and your boss is not all that great to work for, but not breaching any laws or HR standards, what is the next course of action?
Your guide to dealing with a difficult boss
There are a range of steps you can take that don’t involve elaborate plans for revenge like you see in the movies. Here are some tips to navigate the difficult waters:
- Be a leader: One of the easiest things to do under a dictator’s regime is to give up or surrender completely. It is what they want, ultimately. But you can be better than that. Forge ahead with your own ideas that present value to the company, show them why they employed you to begin with. Dictators fall, leaders rise.
- Psychology 101: There are important questions used in all conflict resolutions that can be applied here. If you receive orders or unfair communication that you feel are are misguided, ask: “Is that what you meant to say?”. It can disarm them and give them a chance to re-think the strategy. If they are steadfast in their resolution, as for more information. How can I achieve these goals? What measures should I apply? Again, this presents more scope for thought and clarity in the process.
- Don’t trigger them: Some bad bosses may just be cranky individuals. Watch and observe, note down what is likely to set them off. This can assist you in avoiding situations where unnecessary agro comes into play.
- Learn their patterns: By staying one step ahead of the controlling boss, you can avoid the angst (perhaps even impress them). Learn to anticipate the tasks and deadlines they like to dole out on a regular basis, then pre-empt them. Have work ready in advance, or at least the framework. It can save you a late scramble and unnecessary overtime, at the very least.
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