How to deal with a narcissistic boss

The modern day corporate workplace is brimming with narcissistic people in leadership roles. Here’s how you can safeguard your mental well-being if you happen to be working for such an individual. 

Narcissism is commonly understood as a set of noticeably undesirable qualities possessed by an individual – an inflated sense of self-worth, a characteristic lack of empathy, and an unending need for admiration. Put inside the corporate ecosystem, however, these qualities take on an entirely different guise. Grandiosity becomes confidence, attention-seeking becomes charisma; narcissism becomes practically a job advertisement for leaders. The intersection can sometimes be so great that narcissism becomes the decisive factor for a promotion.

While such qualities may even help an individual attain success in the short-term, it is important to understand the long-term implications of narcissism for an organisation and its employees. A narcissistic leader’s drive for success does not stem from a larger vision for the organisation, but rather from an inherent fear of inadequacy and insignificance. This makes them –

– highly likely to assume credit for their subordinates’ work

– envious of anyone else who may be experiencing success

– always ready with a story about how they “saved the day”

– ambitious to the point where their decisions risk the well-being of their team

– in constant need of praise for their efforts

– quick to lash out and blame others when they do not receive the above-mentioned praise

As is clear from the above, working for a narcissistic leader can be extremely stressful and demeaning for you as an employee. You may begin to doubt your abilities and your self-esteem may plummet. It becomes crucial, therefore, to tend to your own needs outside of work. From pottery to cooking, anything that provides you with a sense of meaning and self-worth should be pursued. This is the time to maintain self-awareness and introspection; learning to handle your moods can be a saving grace on bad days. As far as possible, record and document all interactions with your boss and store them safely for potential future emergencies. Criticism or retaliation needs to be carefully planned, as a personal shot or cold sarcasm can send them into a blinding rage. Remember that you are dealing with a deeply vulnerable, easily-hurt individual who is nursing deep-seated feelings of inadequacy. If none of the above tips seem to work, however, it may be time to start looking for alternative opportunities. Not all leaders are narcissists, and you now have a better idea of the signs to look out for.

Importance of Professional Counseling: A friend or family member may listen to you, but they aren’t professionally, technically qualified or experienced to offer you professional advice. If you wish you can contact us at MindTribe to receive help from our team of expert psychologists.


MindTribe Founder Dr. Prerna Kohli, India’s eminent psychologist, established the company to leverage the strength of the online to make counseling affordable and accessible to everyone. MindTribe provides counseling, workshops, support groups, forums, and eLearning.

About the Author.

Pranav Arora is a psychologist at You can learn more about him by clicking here.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of, the Founders, or management team.

Acknowledgement: All images used are open source and from Unsplash.


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