Psychotic Bosses


A recent article in the [I]Huffington Post[/I] refers to the book [B][URL=""]Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work[/URL][/B], which states that "those who are successful in business could be four times more likely to be psychopaths than the average person." These psychopaths rise to the top because they "lack empathy and don't feel remorse for their actions," which "makes them great at manipulating their way to the top."

That brings me to the poll. Have you ever worked for a psychopath? If you didn't work directly under this person, have you ever watched someone rising to the top at a company you worked for using their psychotic tendencies?



  • 7 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • You left one survey question out. "No, but I've worked for a couple of weasels". O:)
  • [QUOTE=joannie;723147]You left one survey question out. "No, but I've worked for a couple of weasels". O:)[/QUOTE]

    Umm...I think they took that as a given. I don't know anyone who hasn't worked for a weasel or two in their lifetime (or three...or four...)
  • Nae,
    You are right. I figured everyone's worked for a weasel (is there anybody out there who has avoided that?) but have you ever had a boss that is actually psychotic.
    Luckily, I think I've avoided the psychotics.
  • I had a boss for a few years who reveled in "testing" managers' allegiance to the organization by forcing them to be cruel to their employees. He once directed me to fire 16 employees (any 16), knowing that seasonal demands would require that I start hiring their replacements almost immediately. Instead, I allowed any of our 120 employees to volunteer for unpaid leave, reminding them that once we got into our busy season they would be working crazy hours. I was easily able to take 16 people off my payroll for several weeks, and re-allocate the labor costs among the departments. The boss found out when several of my employees mentioned the "perk" of unpaid leave on their employee satisfaction surveys (which gave me outstanding marks, natch). He was furious, and tried to fire me over it. Instead, I got transferred to a better location. :)
    Since he was a district manager, I still had to work for him, and he eventually rode me hard enough to get me to quit.
    He was the only boss I had who was truly psycho. Even though he was 6'4" & 250 lbs., he wore cowboy boots with inserts to make him even taller. He thought it was funny when he had plates put on the heels so you could hear him coming 100 feet away, and he would purposely walk down the office hallway with the cadence of a gunslinger in a B-movie. Just an absolute ahole.
  • psycopath is an outdated terms. .antisocial now
    you seem to use psychotic and psychopath interchangably which is not correct
    why don't we look at characteristics/behaviors like Frank discribed since I don't think any of us can diagnosis and I don't like ill defined labels :)
  • Sonny, you make a good point. One of my colleagues is fond of saying "Words mean things, people!" Those two words aren't interchangable.

    The original article focused on leaders that are maniuplative and don't care who they hurt. And looking at it in that light, I have to take back what I said about escaping this type of boss.

    I worked in a chain restaurant for two stints when I was in grad school. At the first, the owner/boss was amazing. She worked with employees, took our side when customers were wrong, and was a kind person. And we worked our tails off for her -- that store got great return business and high marks from corporate.

    For my second stint, I worked at another location. The owner/boss there made it very clear that the restaurant came first. He berated employees in front of customers and the entire kitchen regularly. He made the schedule without considering schedule requests and then left it up to employees to cover their shifts (or else) if they needed off. One of the perks of working in the restaurant is supposed to be flexible schedules, or at least that's what the company's manual said. On more than one occassion, he fired a server in the middle of a busy shift because they were "talking back" too much. He always scheduled himself to run the line (move food out of the window in the kitchen) on Fridays and Saturdays even though he was terrible at it. Often, a customer would ask to "speak to the manager" after a horrible dining experience that was in large part his fault. At that point, he would yell at the whole kitchen (there are tables right outside of the kitchen and his voiced carried) and then storm out to the table in his gross kitchen apron. I could go on.

    That's the only job I've ever quit on bad terms -- no notice, just an "I'm not coming back" at the end of the night. Thing is, everyone knew that was the way to go because if you gave notice, your final days were filled with even more crap work and nasty comments.

    That store always got terrible marks from corporate and ended up closing a few years ago because sales were so terrible. I've never seen or heard of another store in this chain closing unless they were just moving down the road.
  • Maybe the best term would be bosses that make you crazy.

    I had a boss once who I could write a book about. One story that stands out is the first time I took time off work. I had worked there 2-3 years, many very long days, and often on weekends. I bought a house and took my first vacation day, a Monday, off for the move. The house had a pool and my daughter got an ear infection right off the bat. I took Tuesday off too to get her to the doctor. It was a 60 mile commute, but I ran in to work in the afternoon to get some pressing work issues taken care of (I didn't trust my new boss of 6 months to have a clue how to get them done).

    On Wednesday I came in to find a memo. My new boss, who had taken off 2-3 days a month since starting, and been gone 2-3 afternoons EVERY week (she claimed it was for her braces), had written me a memo about my [I]excessive[/I] time off. She told me it was not acceptable and that I needed to improve my attendance. It was written in the worst English and poorest spelling I had seen in anyone older than a first grader. She was shocked that I was upset about it, telling me she got those kinds of memos all the time from her prior employer.

    By the way, in the end I went to the VP and told him I was quitting as I couldn't take her anymore (she believed in constant insults and belittling to keep us in our places). He talked me out of it, and the following Monday I was told I would no longer report to her. I was embarrassed to discover that of the 4-5 departments reporting to her, I was the only left. I should have stood up for myself much sooner.
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