Research shows that when a work environment is toxic – due to narcissistic leaders, for example – the toxicity trickles down and affects everyone in the company. This can lead to decreased productivity, job dissatisfaction, multiple resignations and even mental health issues.
Narcissistic leaders tend to be self-centred, have an inflated sense of self-importance, need constant admiration and lack empathy. In other words, they care more about themselves than their employees.
Red flags that indicate your boss might be a narcissist.
Do these traits ring a bell?
- An inflated sense of self-importance.
- Acting in a totally self-centred manner.
- Constantly needing admiration.
- Lacking empathy.
- Belittling employees in front of others.
- Taking credit for work or ideas not belonging to them.
- Making unreasonable demands.
Narcissistic abuse in the workplace has a significant impact on employees. Even more worrying is the fact that it can be infectious, with employees mirroring their boss’ behaviour and abusing their own subordinates, so the toxicity spreads within the company like a malign fog.
The impact of a toxic work culture
A toxic culture incites deviant behaviour as employees succumb to low morale and the pressure to meet unrealistic demands. In order to improve a toxic work culture, it is important to address the issue at the root: the narcissistic leader. By increasing awareness and understanding of narcissistic abuse, we can begin to create change.
Toxic narcissists cause even more problems in a company because their subordinates learn to never speak up and never, ever challenge them. They also soon discover that the best way to get ahead is to give the narcissist what they need to survive: flattery.
Different ideas are silenced, flattery and servility are rewarded, and cynicism and apathy corrode any sense of shared purpose in a culture where everyone is looking out for themselves.
Talented and motivated employees soon give up and leave for greener pastures, so the company suffers a brain drain, while the more opportunistic stay on and get ahead.
If left unchecked, over time the narcissist is capable of destroying the organisation by dismantling it brick by brick.
These are just some of the ways in which narcissistic leaders can impact those working under them.
What to do if your boss is a narcissist
If you have drawn the short straw and ended up reporting to a narcissistic boss, there are things you can do to try and improve the situation.
- Speak up: It can be difficult, but try to have honest conversations with your narcissistic leader. Explain how their behaviour is impacting you and try to come up with a solution together.
- Set boundaries: It’s important to set boundaries with a narcissist, both professionally and personally. Stick to them and don’t let yourself be drawn into their web of manipulation.
- Seek support: Talk to someone you trust about what you’re going through. It can be helpful to have an outside perspective and to know that you’re not alone.
- Find an ally: See if there are any other employees who feel the same way as you do. Having someone to commiserate with and bounce ideas off of can be a big help.
- Create a support network: A strong support network is essential when dealing with a narcissist. Family, friends, therapist – whoever you need to lean on, make sure you have them in your corner.
If you’re stuck in a toxic work situation, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. It’s important to take steps to protect your mental health. This may include taking breaks during the day, or talking to a therapist.
If all else fails, then the time has come to find yourself a new job.
For Further Reading
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)
- How to Deal with a Narcissist
- Narcissistic Abuse – How Narcissists Manipulate and Hurt their Victims
- How to Define a Narcissist: The 5 Traits You Need to Look Out For
- How Narcissistic Leaders Create Toxic Workplaces
- The Narcissist and the Enabler – a match made in hell
- Dark Triad Personalities in Romantic Relationships: Are You in Love with a Narcissist?
- The Difference Between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Traits
- Narcissistic Supply – Feeding the Narcissistic Ego
- Narcissistic Injury – The Agony of the Fragile Narcissistic Ego
- 7 Types of Narcissistic Abuse with Practical Examples
- The 10 Stages of Healing After Narcissistic Abuse
- 8 Ways Narcissists Get Worse with Age
- Can a Narcissist feel Empathy? The Answer May Surprise You
- Can a Narcissist Love Their Partner? How Narcissism Impacts Relationships
- Warning Signs You’re Dating a Narcissist: How to Tell if He’s a Monster Behind Closed Doors
- The Devious Traits of the Female Narcissist – What to Look Out For
- Narcissist Meme Gallery
- How to Tell If You’re a Narcissist
- Does a narcissist ever truly regret hurting people?
- Can Narcissists Change? The Truth About Personality Disorders and How to Treat Them
- Can a Narcissist Ever Be Happy? Appearances May Be Deceptive
- Red Flag Alert – are you dating a narcissist? What to look out for before falling in love
- Can a Narcissist Be Nice? The Myth of the Generous Narcissist
- Can Two Narcissists Love Each Other and Have a Healthy Relationship?
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