There are more mentally abnormal personalities among managers than in the average population. In the book “My boss is crazy – is yours too?” Hans Christian Schrader and Jürgen Hesse give practical advice on how to deal with this.
The working world is changing. Engaged, satisfied employees are crucial for productivity and innovation in companies. Managers today should be coaches and promoters rather than commanders. But in many cases, the reality is still different. Many employees and managers experience choleric bosses who yell around and are on the verge of losing it. One third of the 45 million wage-earning employees are said to suffer from mental illness on the part of their bosses.
Not every manager is a psychopath, but the path from a “normal” alpha animal to one with an “exaggerated” nature sometimes seems to be a short one. Eloquence and charisma can surprisingly often mask excessive self-confidence, narcissism and egomania.
There are also prominent examples in the financial sector. For example, Hermann Josef Abs – the former head of Deutsche Bank – is said to have once thrown a telephone at a fellow board member – they weighed several kilos at the time. And other well-known managers of financial organizations are also said to have done similar things – even in more recent times.
Psychopaths in management
According to Hans Christian Schrader and Jürgen Hesse, egomaniacs, narcissists and other psychopathically inclined characters increasingly strive for power and are particularly attracted to leadership and hierarchical structures. Such misguided personalities manipulate, intimidate, adorn themselves with other people’s feathers or even engage in criminal misconduct.
From the boss’s chair, it is easier for them to act out their lust for power without taking greater risks, fearing resistance or even having to reckon with negative consequences for themselves. This is exacerbated by the fact that psychopathic personalities also change negatively on the way to the top and lose the ability to critically question themselves.
10 basic types of personality disorders
The authors distinguish ten different types:
- The narcissist, who strives for power, prestige and admiration and tends to overvalue his own person.
- The egomaniac, who strives for power and influence and tends to extreme aggression if his wishes and demands are not met.
- The tyrant, who wants to dominate and cultivates an aggressive-authoritarian style of dealing, especially with the weak.
- The theatrical, with an urge for self-dramatization and dramatic performances.
- The schizoid, who is indifferent to interpersonal relationships.
- The paranoid, with a constant fear of persecution, deception, deceit and intrigue.
- The compulsive, with a pronounced control and order addiction.
- The depressive, who is characterized by passivity, a negative mood, and a lack of drive and desire.
- The phobic, who is characterized by exaggerated worry, fear and associated avoidance behavior.
- The addict, who is usually led into a pathological addiction by stress, pressure, competition and fear of failure.
Strategies for dealing with bosses with behavioral problems
If a boss shows behavioral problems, the first thing to do is to become aware of the type of boss you are dealing with and how pronounced the personality disorder actually is. Are they minor quirks that can be changed, or are they more noticeable disorders?
In their book “My boss is crazy – is yours too?” the authors give clear and well-founded advice on this and explain strategies for action using practical examples.