They get the blood from under your nails: bosses with an inflated ego. But why are they doing this or become like that? And if their ego occupies the entire room, how do you grab the space for your ideas?
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The ego-tripping boss, who doesn’t know him (or her). Very convinced of his own abilities, only his vision is the right one. All successes are due to his admirable commitment. The mistakes are of course due to someone else.
Research shows that CEO’s with narcissism do well during the crisis, but in good times they tend to be very bad for your company. Financial results are going down. They do not communicate with their staff. They feel that they are being talked about and not talked to and employees feel that the gratitude they deserve ends up with this boss.
Read on and I will explain the background and how you can deal with bosses with a big ego. Before I will take away any misunderstandings between egomaniacs and narcissists.
Difference between egomaniacs and narcissists
Ego is not vanity as it has been made to be understood in past years. It is an important part of our individualism formed by our particular thoughts, emotions, memories, roles and collective identifications. Having a big ego is then interpreted as being strongly grounded or anchored in that which we self-identify. If by “big ego” you intended to mean “high vanity” or arrogance, these are characteristics that one can exhibit temporarily or permanently without necessarily suffering from a personality disorder like narcissism which is really harmful.
Narcissists, particularly Narcissistic Sociopaths, are manipulative, schemers, weave lies to the point of believing them themselves, are socially very charming, emotionally detached and materialistically attached, highly cruel, self-centered, and on and on. They can even act innocent and vulnerable (hence not arrogant) socially as part of their manipulation or scheme.
This article will now go on about egomaniacs and if you want to read more about narcissistic bosses and how to handle them, please click here.
Those who find themselves extremely good to an extreme degree may also suffer from hubris syndrome (after the Ancient Greek word for “recklessness”), as described in 2009 by researchers David Owen and Jonathan Davidson. In a study of the behavior of US presidents and British prime ministers in the last century, they saw a constructive tendency in the self-image of these leaders. The higher the position of the leader and the longer it is held, the greater the self-esteem of the leader.
Boss with big ego
Yet we should not just write off bosses with a big ego. Having a big ego does not necessarily have to be a problem. Having a big ego – in the sense of” having a lot of confidence “- also has positive sides. Such a person makes decisions that another does not dare to make. The largest companies in the world have become a success because of that type of people. People with narcissistic characteristics are heavily over-represented in CEO’s and other managerial positions. That is because narcissists are fearless in a certain way and in situations where guidance is requested, they are not afraid to have their say.
Those who are in a high position will also have to pay particular attention to ensuring that they do not get too far away from the work floor. Here is the example of the CEO of the Danish billion-dollar company and beer brewer Carlsberg, who knows that this is more common among people in managerial positions and therefore does everything to be open to other people’s ideas. “I hope the employees feel that I am one of them, because I am that and that is how I feel.”
Be with his people
When he started as a CEO at the company, he exchanged a nice office on the twentieth floor for a vacant workplace in the less chic office garden. ,, The floor where I used to be was only accessible for the highest management levels. I never saw anyone walking there. I could have been dead for ten days before someone found me. “” His move had a signal function. ,, Even though I am the boss, I am approachable. And don’t just say what you think I want to hear. I am interested in your questions and your criticism. “
Eats with his people
He regularly holds breakfast sessions with employees from all levels of the company. Whenever he can, he tries to sit down for lunch in the company canteen. ,, At the table, for example, you hear that a new computer system that has been introduced actually turns out to be very inconvenient to work with. If you stay in the boardroom alone, things like that don’t reach you quickly. “” Keeping your ego in check is, as far as the heart is concerned, part of good leadership. ,, You need everyone in the company to get ahead. It doesn’t matter that you have more stripes than another. You do it together. “
However, a lot of managers and bosses are different from the above and show egomaniac traits, says a psychotherapist and coach. We all have to some extent, though. But that doesn’t hurt. It is even healthy. We therefore see ourselves through pink glasses. That feels nice.
Whether your supervisor is really an egomaniac, or only shows traits of it, in both cases you don’t get along with using that type casting. The man or woman will – as long as the results are favorable – not be fired for it. Moreover, the staff is usually divided. Some let them walk and admire him or her, the critics fear for their job and therefore do not hear anything.
So, what to do?
It is advised never to criticize directly. Say something nice first. For example, that your boss has a nice suit and only then that you suspect that he is even more successful if he does not question his employees. Make the working relationship psychologically as safe as possible for the egomaniac by giving clear feedback.
Working as a team
Working well together with a (too) self-confident boss is certainly possible. The point is that you have to know how to sustain yourself. If someone takes a strong lead, it is natural behavior for people to follow. You can sulk about it in a corner, but you don’t solve anything with it. First, be aware of your own qualities. If you’re okay with yourself, then something that someone else does can never hit you so hard. Look at what you have to contribute. Maybe you’re less outspoken and charismatic than your boss, but you have a good grip on the content.
Come up with a plan
Then consciously try to come to the fore. Show yourself that leadership behavior by, for example, coming up with an alternative approach. If it is a good plan, then you also present yourself as a leader and people will follow you. Maybe the boss himself too. The following is also suggested: If you address a boss with a big ego very clearly about what you find difficult and what you would like to see differently, the chance that such a boss will take it into account is greatly increased.
And how do you do that?
Go talk to a small group. Always start with something positive that keeps the boss feeling safe. Dare to translate into an I message what the other person is doing to you and ask if he or she is willing to take that into account. Many will do that.
But what if it does not work out?
I have to admit that it will not be easy to handle egomaniacs and in some cases it will simply not work, even after talking to HR or the boss of your boss. You then still have the option to leave that company and find other work.
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