There are any number of difficult bosses, some geniuses and others who hold their position based on circumstances (luck) and connections. Some of the smartest ones include Larry Ellison of Oracle,  Barry Diller of IAC, and Jack Welch of GE – and then there are the others like Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap and Eddie Lampert who apparently believe they are destined for greatness as they destroy iconic companies. 

Is your boss a crazy-maker and is there a limit to crazy?

  1. Demonstrates a sense of entitlement, expecting special treatment and believing the rules do not apply to them. Using a sports analogy, they were born on third-base and were batted home by another player – but tell the world they hit a home run and stole home plate. 
  2. Guided more by feelings and believes that they are always the smartest person in the room and can “wing it” in any situation.
  3. Manipulates presence and perception to ensure that they are the center of attention. Nothing appears too outrageous at the moment, and they often display a lack of shame, remorse, or concern over their actions. 
  4. Associates with other movers and shakers at prestigious events to validate their position on the totem pole.
  5. Hyper-vigilant and quick to respond to any perceived or real slight with disproportionate, and often inappropriate, forcefulness. 
  6. Often arrogant or authoritarian by both presence and position, but can be personally pleasant, charismatic, engaging, and manipulative on demand. People who are not personally useful or who do not advance the agenda are transparent to the point of being ignored.
  7. Demands unquestioning personal loyalty and obedience, but it is often a one-way path. Requires an excessive level of admiration and stroking when boasting of their achievements or publicity.
  8. Takes undue credit for all achievements but is quick to assign blame to others. Refused to recognize or acknowledge the brilliance or hard work of others that underpin their success. Feels free to insult, undercut, or lambaste employees, opponents, or reported who “don’t get it.” 
  9. Creates conflict to prevent challenges and chaos to mask a lack of knowledge or competence
  10. Is known as a hard-charger, damn the torpedoes, full ahead. Responds with anger, and possibly rage, when denied action, access, or acknowledgment. 
  11. Lack of attention span and ability to retain critical information. Often providing conflicting responses depending on the audience and the time of day. Their opinion can be heavily influenced by the last person to leave the room. 
  12. Publicity hound – almost as if achievements do not truly exist until they are recognized and acknowledged by others.
  13. Communication is often a one-way affair where a series of dictates are issued. Everyone around them, including family, are LLEs (Lower-Level Employees).
  14. Attempts to shift all personal expenses to the organization. 
  15. Uses and cultivates totemic symbols, lavish and ornate trappings, aircraft, cars, collectibles.
  16. Maintains an obligatory “I’m so great and powerful wall” of pictures, covers, and framed articles. 
  17. Is often described by employees who use psychological words such as narcissistic, compulsive, impulsive, schizoid, and paranoid. 

There is little you can do to function adequately in the presence of a crazy-making boss. Sometimes it is worth the pain and suffering if you can jump ahead of others in your career path. Other times it is more important to preserve your physical and mental health by seeking employment elsewhere.

Take a few moments and think about your boss and potential benefits and adverse consequences of remaining under their control. 

Am I Next? Toxic Bosses: Is there a limit to crazy?


It appears that office romances begun in the spring are now wilting in the fall, hence a cautionary tale that was originally published on 11/18/2012

Am I Next? Office Romance

The idea that love is all powerful and that affairs can be justified as “matters of the heart” defies common sense. Would you be willing to sacrifice your entire future for a person you do not plan to marry? And if you did love that person with the intensity that you claim, wouldn’t you seek to preserve your future by requesting their resignation to seek employment elsewhere? To throw away a lifetime of respect and honor (as in General Petraeus affair) or a career-topping achievement for the temporary feeling of “being in love” seems irrational. Especially if the other person recognizes the mutual danger to your future life together.

Another cautionary tale …

"Lockheed Martin Ousts Future CEO Over Relationship With Subordinate"

"Lockheed Martin Corp. has ousted its president and future CEO over a relationship with a subordinate.  The defense company said Friday that its board of directors asked for and received the resignation of Christopher Kubasik from his role as vice chairman, president and chief operating officer. Kubasik, 51, was scheduled to become CEO in January. Lockheed Martin says an ethics investigation confirmed that he had a close personal relationship with a subordinate employee. That violates the company’s code of ethics and business conduct." Source: Lockheed Martin Ousts Future CEO Over Relationship With Subordinate « CBS DC

Bottom line …

It will continue to happen in perpetuity … but will it happen to you and will you bet your entire future on it being kept a secret?

Full Disclosure: Been there, done that. I finally got her a job at a neighboring company through a friend. Although it added another layer of inconvenience to my life, it was well worth the time, effort and trouble. We thought we were being discrete, although I later found out that the President of the company saw us shopping in a supermarket at 2 a.m. picking up certain feminine items along with the groceries. And, of course, he told a few people and the secret was out. Was it worth the risk? Yes – then, and as I reflect upon it now, the answer remains yes. Perhaps I did not have enough at risk to make it a truly life-changing decision.