Have you ever had a ‘Psycho Boss’?
I was amazed at how much it resonated with people when I talked about my psycho boss at a talk I gave recently. What really got to me was how strongly people felt it still, even when the experience was decades ago.
I should have really been so surprised. After all, I was sharing my story as part of my catharsis relating to the events of 30 years ago. It has affected me deeply so why wouldn’t similar experiences affect them deeply too?
We know that bullying (which I prefer to call abuse) is rife in the workplace and that over half of people leaving a job do so because of their boss.
We also know psychopaths are over-represented at senior management level compared to the general population. They thrive in corporate environments, where they get rewarded for their behaviours. They enable those behaviours in others, which then become normalised.
You may have the misfortune to work for an actual psychopath but it’s much more likely you will work for a boss who behaves LIKE a psychopath at times. After all, that’s ‘the way to get on’, the system values calculation, ruthlessness and callousness. That why good people end up doing bad things.
Now, I don’t know if my boss was really a psychopath, I’m not his therapist and I’m not trained in psychiatry so I’m not no position to make that judgement. What I do know is that he demonstrated psychopathic behaviours towards me – and others.
As Psycho Bosses often do, he created chaos and damaged the careers of many, not just me. He caused several millions of pounds to be wasted. Then he danced off to a new role (a promotion, of course) where he got his own little fiefdom to rule over. Like I said, the system not only encourages these behaviours, it rewards them handsomely.
He effectively ended my career trajectory but he did much more damage than that. The experience scarred me deeply, undermining my confidence and self-esteem, damaging my trust in others and in the world, pushing me towards anxiety and depression. 30 years later I am just fully coming to terms with the consequences, having finally accepted that I needed some professional help to do so.
So what are your experiences of Psycho Bosses? How did you deal with it? Have you recovered yet?
And what should people do to protect themselves against these bosses? I know that a lack of awareness that they existed and how they behaved was one of the reasons I struggled so much, which is why sharing these experiences is so important. If you can recognise them, you can take action to protect yourself.