Top 10 Warning Signs of a Narcissistic Boss

A narcissist may be charming and persuasive, but can quickly become controlling and abusive when their ego is threatened. Reporting to a narcissistic boss is very stressful and can lead to burnout due to the constant manipulation, criticism, and belittling behavior. In this post we will discuss the warning signs of a narcissistic boss, and the impact that they have on employees.

warning signs of a narcissistic boss

The Warning Signs of a Narcissistic Boss

Narcissistic bosses often display manipulative behavior, lack empathy, need excessive attention, belittle their employees, set unreasonable expectations and disregard boundaries.

It’s important to recognize these behaviors in order to protect yourself from a toxic work environment caused by your narcissistic boss.

1. Manipulative Behavior

A narcissistic boss will use manipulative tactics like gaslighting, guilt-tripping, or threatening behavior to control people and situations.

Gaslighting involves manipulating someone into doubting their own perception of reality or memory.

They do this by using subtle tactics such as changing stories, denying facts, and making the other person feel confused or stupid.

Narcissistic bosses also often resort to guilt-tripping their staff. They will use emotional appeals and try to make their employees feel guilty for not doing what they want.

This tactic is especially effective because it preys on the employee’s feelings of responsibility and obligation towards their employer.

Narcissistic bosses also make it clear that if you don’t do what they want, there will be consequences.

They may threaten to fire you, cut hours or privileges such as benefits or bonuses, freeze you out during team meetings, or even spread rumors about you in order to get their way.

narcissist manager

2. Lack of Empathy

Narcissists often have difficulty empathizing with the needs and feelings of others.

This makes it difficult for them to understand why they should take another person’s perspective into account when making decisions.

As a result, narcissists are usually only concerned with their own wants and needs and view situations solely from their own point of view.

This can lead to them disregarding the rights and feelings of others, which can create uncomfortable or even dangerous situations in the workplace.

bad boss

3. Craving the Spotlight

Narcissistic bosses crave the spotlight and demand constant praise and attention from their employees.

They may become angry or aggressive if they do not receive enough of it, or if anyone else takes away the attention that they believe is only due to them.

As a result, a narcissistic boss may try to prevent others from obtaining recognition or awards.

They become very jealous when someone else receives praise or accolades, and will then undermine the individual in order to bring attention back to themselves.

This can create a hostile work environment and make it difficult for employees to perform at their full potential.

warning signs of a narcissistic boss

4. Excessive Self-promotion

A narcissistic boss is typically focused on promoting themselves and constantly highlighting their own accomplishments.

They will downplay or criticize the successes of others, and may even go so far as to take credit for other people’s work.

They are also overly competitive and constantly strive to be the top dog.

Such behaviour can lead to mental exhaustion as team members are constantly walking on eggshells around their boss.

warning signs of a narcissistic boss

5. Unreasonable Expectations

A narcissistic boss has very high expectations of their employees.

They often set unrealistic goals for the team, with no consideration of any resource or time constraints, resulting in the team feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

Furthermore, they put too much pressure on individuals to perform at a certain level and not accept any mistakes, thereby creating an environment where criticism becomes a constant part of everyday life.

warning signs of a narcissistic boss

6. Lack of Boundaries

Narcissists do not respect personal boundaries. They will involve themselves in matters that are not their concern, such as disciplinary action or decisions about company resources, which could undermine the autonomy of other team members.

In addition, they constantly attempt to one-up others or discount the value of their contributions, creating a hostile working environment where people feel unable to express their opinions freely or have any kind of meaningful dialogue with their supervisors.

warning signs of a narcissistic boss

7. Constantly Criticizing Others

Narcissists will try to belittle anyone who attempts to challenge them, whether it be in terms of their performance at work or the ideas they present.

They use criticism as a tool for keeping employees in line, creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation which can drain morale and make it difficult for people to express themselves honestly or openly.

bad manager

8. Grandiose Behavior

A narcissistic boss may present grandiose plans in order to appear powerful and successful, disregarding any potential risks or practical limitations associated with these plans.

They also make promises that they are not willing or able to keep in order to maintain control over their team members, creating an environment of uncertainty that discourages initiative and creativity.

This type of behavior can lead employees to become frustrated, unmotivated and distrustful of management, which can have a lasting impact on team morale and productivity.

angry manager

9. Disregard For Rules And Regulations

A narcissistic boss believes that they are exempt from following standard procedures and regulations that everyone else has to adhere to, leading to organizational chaos.

This creates confusion and inconsistencies, which make it difficult for team members to understand what is expected of them.

In addition, this type of leadership can lead to dangerous situations where important details are overlooked or ignored, potentially causing disastrous results.

10. Refusal To Take Responsibility

Narcissistic bosses refuse to take responsibility for their actions and decisions when these do not work out.

They also will notaccept feedback or criticism, as they perceive it as a sign that they are being challenged or disrespected.

When they are caught breaking the rules they will deny any wrongdoing and instead attempt to rationalize or justify their behavior.

This practice of avoidance can create an environment where team members are unable or unwilling to learn from mistakes.

The Impact of a Narcissistic Boss on Employees

Working under a narcissistic boss can have a serious impact on employees, both emotionally and professionally.

The constant criticism, lack of accountability, and refusal to accept responsibility by a narcissistic leader can leave employees feeling insecure, de-motivated, and exhausted.

This can lead to stress and burnout as they do not receive recognition or appreciation for the work they do.

unhappy employees

Protecting Yourself from a Narcissistic Boss

Set Boundaries

Establishing clear boundaries with your narcissistic boss is an important step in protecting yourself from their toxic behavior.

Refuse to engage in any unfair or inappropriate demands or activities.

Make it clear that you do not accept being yelled at or belittled, and draw the line at doing additional work without compensation, or being subjected to unreasonable deadlines that can cause burnout and exhaustion.

Setting boundaries also means taking a stand against any form of abusive behavior, whether it be verbal or physical.

By setting these limits and sticking to them, you will help create a healthier environment for everyone involved.


Prioritize Self-Care

Practicing self-care is an essential part of protecting yourself from the stress of working with a narcissistic boss.

This means taking time for yourself to do activities that help you relax, such as exercise, yoga, meditation, journaling or writing, listening to music, reading a book, or engaging in creative hobbies.

It’s also important to create healthy boundaries between work and home life. Make sure to take regular breaks and vacations so that you can recharge your mental and physical health.

Finally, connecting with friends and family who are supportive can help provide an emotional safety net while dealing with a difficult boss.


Document Everything

Keeping records of all conversations, tasks assigned, and instances of misconduct on the part of your boss is essential. Write down details of any conversations you have and take note of any task requests or unfair demands.

It is also important to keep track of any instances in which your boss behaves inappropriately or gets aggressive. Keeping a written record will help you make your case should your boss make any unfair accusations in your regard.

Seek Emotional Support

Finding a trusted friend or colleague who can provide emotional support when dealing with a narcissistic boss is an important part of protecting your mental health.

Sharing your experience can provide comfort and understanding. You will also get good advice on how to handle difficult conversations or tasks that are assigned.

Additionally, having a confidante who understands what you’re going through can help reduce feelings of isolation and frustration, and make it easier to cope with any challenging scenarios you encounter at work.


Advocate For Yourself

It is very important that you speak up for yourself when necessary and are not afraid to express your opinions, even if it means disagreeing with your boss.

While it may be daunting to stand up for yourself in such situations, doing so can help ensure that your boundaries are respected and that you are not taken advantage of.

Being assertive allows you to maintain control over the conversation and can also convey a sense of confidence.

Additionally, if you do find yourself in a situation where you feel threatened or unsafe, don’t hesitate to take appropriate steps towards protecting yourself.

Consider talking to someone in HR, or else to another manager who can guide you through the process.

Final Thoughts on the Warning Signs of a Narcissistic Boss

Dealing with a narcissistic boss can be challenging and draining, but it is possible to protect yourself while still achieving success at work.

Making sure to stand up for yourself when necessary and speaking up if something is wrong or needs to be addressed can help ensure that your boundaries are respected and that you don’t feel taken advantage of.

Additionally, remember that no matter how difficult the situation may seem, it’s always ok to take appropriate steps to protect yourself if you feel threatened or unsafe. Don’t hesitate to seek out trusted friends or colleagues who can provide emotional support and guidance.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a comment