If you have worked in professional services for a while, you will have probably noticed a few recurring characters – especially when it comes to office bosses
Here are some of the most common.
Godfathers are Senior Partners or VPs that have been around the office for years. They see themselves as untouchable and mostly describe their job title as ‘Owner’ on LinkedIn.
They are used to getting what they want and expect to be treated like royalty, especially by the ‘kids’ who have recently joined the ranks of their multi-million pound part of the empire.
They rule using fear, intimidation and rely on past successes to sustain a reputation for being untouchable and indispensable. Many of them (mostly men, for some reason) can be found on management teams, and the boardroom is their favourite place in the world.
Not all boards and senior leadership teams have a high percentage of this type of aging Mafiosi, but when they do it is always the same story: they understand little, can’t hear very well, but will shoot you if you don’t show respect.
The Mad Genius
These bosses tend to have ideas which are so intelligent and innovative, that most people in the office don’t actually have a clue what he or she is talking about.
Sometimes they are right, sometimes they’ve just lost their marbles.. the only way to find out is to play along for a while and see whether they might just be 5 steps ahead – which they often tend to be
Made geniuses are both endearing and annoying (often at the same time) and tend to walk around meeting rooms looking at the ceiling muttering to themselves – especially in critical problem-solving situations.This category is very popular in consulting, analytics/digital and advertising.
They like to surround themselves with like-minded people (which leads to chaos), or people who actually bring rigour or pragmatic thinking (which leads to superb performance).
Working for a mad genius is tough but highly rewarding. It requires you to demonstrated intellectual elasticity and also a fair amount of resilience: these bosses will think out loud and make comments about your work that are merely contemplative.. they won’t understand why you just burst into tears or took something personally.
The Narcissistic extrovert
Mirror, mirror, here I stand. Who is the fairest in the land?”
― Wilhelm Grimm, Grimm’s Fairy Tales
These highly narcissistic bosses need seduction to feel alive, and constantly create inner dramas or stories to feed the addiction. Depending on the individual, behaviour can involve anything from light intellectual flirting to non HR-friendly tactics in extreme cases. According to my unreliable sources, there are many such types in investment banking, private equity and corporate finance.
Men who exhibit such traits tend to think of themselves as James Bond, whilst women tend to attempt a futile reconciliation between today’s celebrity-obsessed culture vs. the need to come across as strong, dominant but yet professional and cool … Mission impossible, of course.
Regardless of gender, narcissistic extroverts tend to be entertaining and full of life – keen to surround themselves with admirers and people who make them look good.
They can be surprisingly good at looking after their own people, but beware of crossing the line!
The narcissistic extrovert is a supportive and fun person to work for, but if they feel that you threaten their supremacy, they will crush you like an ant.
After all, there can only be one.
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