When your boss is an ego-driven maniac - here’s what you can do

Dealing with an ego-centric boss can be stressful (Photo: Adobe)Dealing with an ego-centric boss can be stressful (Photo: Adobe)
Dealing with an ego-centric boss can be stressful (Photo: Adobe) | ViDi Studio - stock.adobe.com

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Many bosses - and world leaders - are egomaniacs, sometimes without even realising it. Performance coach Amana Walker shares her advice on what to do if your boss is one

Power can be dangerous when it’s in the wrong hands. It’s not even easy to manage when it’s in the right hands.

You see, power comes with authority, and authority is usually given when it’s rightfully earned.

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But we’ve all seen examples of people who have somehow managed to get ‘to the top’ or arrived in a powerful position... and no one knows quite how they did it.

By then, it’s too late.

This happens with leaders of all types of businesses around the world.

And, as we’re witnessing with our own eyes, it happens with leaders of all countries around the world.

When a leader’s ego reaches an unhealthy level they become so full of self-importance that they’re unwilling to listen to anyone (unless those around them are saying the things they want to hear). The truth is those people around them become too fearful to be honest and so nothing changes.

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A leader with power, and an ego larger than life, can cause a huge amount of damage. We saw it with Trump, and we’re seeing it with Putin. The situation just gets worse until someone brave enough to stand up and, carefully, speak out, does.

But what do you do if your leader at work is an ego-driven maniac?

Well, we all have choices; here are a few actions you might want to consider:

Put it into perspective

Sometimes we go through a rough patch at work, when nothing seems to go our way - and then everything looks bleak. Could it be that your boss isn’t that bad generally, and it just feels worse because of whatever you are going through?

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Take a step back first and get the opinion of your work mates. Do they think the same as you, and the boss is driving you all nuts? If that’s the case, you know you’re not being overly sensitive, and your boss is the problem.

Look for an alternative role

Thankfully, not all leaders are the same - even within the same business. It will be the same with yours.

Rather than having to leave, look for an alternative role in a team or department that is led by a different boss.

Sure, it will mean you having to learn something new, but that’s not a bad thing. And if you’re ambitious, look for a way out by getting a promotion in a different part of the business. Working under an ego-driven leader means your chances of being developed and given real opportunities could be low. You don’t have to put up with that, do you?

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Be honest with your boss

OK, you might think this one is a stupid idea, but it’s one worth thinking about. Also, you wouldn’t believe how many leaders out there are badly lacking in self-awareness. They have little to no idea how they are coming across, and it might be the case with yours.

If you have one to one time, talk about how you’d like to help more and provide more support to him/her. In doing this you are offering to ease whatever pressure they are under, which is sometimes the reason for poor behaviour.

Then you can ask if they are aware of the effect they are having on the team - you included. Be brave, this is not about confrontation it’s about honesty.

Raise it as an issue to someone objective

If you don’t feel able to face up to your boss, and you know you’re not the only one who thinks their behaviour is an issue, call it out - and speak to another senior manager and/or your HR manager.

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You will be asked no doubt, if you’ve spoken to your boss yourself first to try and resolve the situation so do try to position this in a constructive way with examples, or you could end up looking like a whinger.

Take their advice, try whatever is suggested and if you struggle to do it or the situation isn’t changing, you’re now at a crossroads. Do you accept the status quo?

Weigh up the consequences

Do you stay or do you go? Now’s the time to make a choice.

How bad does life with this boss have to become before you decided enough is enough, and you leave?

It could be the case that you work at a safe enough distance from the person that it doesn’t affect you too much. In other words, you can live with it because you enjoy the job, the place, or the money more thanthe pain in the butt that he is.

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On the other hand, you might think ‘why should I put up with this?’ and the truth is, you don’t have to - no one should. But if you’re unable to just walk out the door, start your search and work hard at finding yourself another job. Prepare yourself to get out of there, you deserve better.

Finally, a note for leaders out there…

Many of you will read this and feel confident enough to know that you do a good job, your team enjoy working for you and the power of the position you’re in has not gone to your head.

But if you value your team, and you want to be an outstanding leader, then stop for a moment and think about the above things. How do you know that your own team aren’t thinking these things about you?

The truth is you don’t.

So don’t allow your ego to get the better of you, it could be costly for you and the business. Instead, be brave enough to ask - regularly - for feedback, from your team and from your colleagues.

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Take whatever they say on the chin and be prepared to change.

No business (or country) wants a leader who is a tyrant, allowed to run riot, and who thinks they are a gift from God.

Fear fuelled leadership is a mask for insecurity.

Leadership is measured not by the ‘badge’ or position you’re in, but by the behaviour you demonstrate.

And that’s the same in every country around the world.

Amana Walker is a performance coach who works with a range of business leaders and sports professionals. More info at www.amanawalker.com

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