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10 ways to deal with a narcissistic boss

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Are you the type of boss who gets frustrated when your staff can’t see your ‘brilliant idea’? Or are you managed by a boss who is tyrannical and exploitative in his actions?

On one hand, these narcissistic qualities are desirable in an effective leader, who has the confidence and know-how to take charge – but too much aggravating people can have dire consequences for staff morale and productivity.

So how are HR leaders to know whether a narcissistic boss is a good or bad thing?

A study published this month in the Personal Psychology journal has found the best type of narcissism is “in moderation”.

The study linked together 50 previous studies and surveys to discover bosses create the most impact in their business by having a touch of narcissism – enough to establish themselves as great leaders, but not too much that their confidence in themselves is detrimental to the business.

So what do you do if you have a narcissistic boss? Here are few ways you can attempt to work better with them:


– Say “no” outright to any requests your boss makes of you.

– Make it seem as though their ideas or issues are of less importance to you than they are to them.

– Take what they say too personally. A narcissistic boss won’t usually be attempting to hurt your feelings, but they also need to you be agreeable with what they’re saying – even if it’s about you.

– Question their authority.

– Argue because you are becoming frustrated. Take a breath and figure out how to get your point across in a way they will take on board.

– Suck up to them and agree with everything. You’ll appear weak and like a follower, rather than a leader in your own right.


– Realise you will almost never beat a narcissistic boss – they have the control and the power, so figure out how to make this work to your advantage by getting on side.

– Let them believe they are as important to you as they think they are.

– When he or she comes to you with an idea, find something about it to compliment. When possible, defend their idea in front of others.

– Figure out how to cooperate with him or her. You will gain their trust and respect if you also show you can do what they do, and that you have the same influence and power as them.

– Recognise your boss’s ultimate goals. If they are in-line with your own goals, then figuring out a way to work with them is key. If not, then it could be time to look for another job.

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Rebecca Lewis
Human Resources Magazine Singapore

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