Is Your Boss a Psychopath?


If you are familiar with my work, you know I am an advocate of a “Zero Tolerance For Bad Bosses” corporate policy. But could your boss not only be bad but a psychopath?

If you think you work for a difficult boss, read the July, 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine. In its featured article, senior writer Alan Deutschman tells intriguing and disturbing stories of corporate psychopaths. He describes them as charming, manipulative, deceitful, ruthless, callous, shallow, destructive, narcissistic and shrewd people. Among the psychopathic bosses he refers to are Leona Helmsley, Ivan Boesky, Marvin Davis and Bernie Ebbers to name a few.

The article even includes a quiz to help readers determine whether they work for one of the “all-time bosses from hell.” I’m sure this issue sold like crazy!

Hopefully, you do not work for anyone quite so, well, shall we say, “psycho.” If you do, perhaps you’d be wise to realistically assess the damage it may do your career and your life.

More likely, you may be working for a boss who is just downright difficult. If you are, you may find the following tips on how to deal with a “difficult” boss helpful.

• Know you can’t control a difficult person, but you can control your attitude about them.

• Have compassion. Recognize that bosses need to make decisions and take actions that will get results to ensure the future of the enterprise. At times, pressures mount, causing them to have high levels of stress. Keep in mind, it’s not easy to be a boss-it’s tough. Real tough. Yes, they make the decisions and the big bucks, but they don’t always make the rules.

They may have a tough Board of Directors and stockholders, (or owners if the company is privately owned) who expect high profits. When they don’t see profits they don’t want to hear the reasons why. They only want results.

• Know what is expected of you. Ask questions and wait for the answers. If it’s not clear to you, don’t hesitate to ask again. You’ll never be sure where you stand if you don’t have direct answers to your concerns.

• Ask what more you can do to support them— “What do you need from me and my team to take some of the pressure off of you?”

• Learn to slough off frustration and develop “emotional toughness.” While it’s not easy to do, strive to cast aside the fact that you have a difficult boss, be grateful you are employed when so many people are not, and replace negative thoughts with positive self talk. Be confident and self-assured through a positive internal dialogue with yourself.

• Make it a habit to tune out your business life when you get home. Even if you have to take work home, give yourself a cut off time each day where you don’t think about business or your boss! Make this a habit.

• Accept that we don’t live in a perfect world, and that difficult people – including bosses are simply a part of life.

• Keep reminding yourself that life is too short to let difficult people and situations get the best of you.

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About Christine Corelli

Christine Corelli is a motivational, keynote, business, leadership, sales, and customer service speaker, sales trainer, and author of six business books. As a keynote speaker, she is known for her high energy and interactive speaking style.

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