Monday, June 18, 2007

Crazy bosses 1

Crazy bosses are nearly impossible to work for.

Fear not, they can be dealt with, says Stanley Bing, pseudonym of Gil Schwartz, CBS' head of public relations.

And just how does he know? Because he not only writes about them, he's one of them.

His first edition of "Crazy Bosses" was in 1992. Since then, he's learned more about out-of-control authority figures and how to deal with them. He says bosses today are different animals, thanks to a global, uber-competitive economy.

"The most spectacular fusion of pathologies has only been accomplished fairly recently -- guys who combine all the sickness of prior centuries into a tasty and unprecedented package," he writes.

Bing is not immune. "I have succeeded," he writes, "in growing my level of insanity dramatically, as I've climbed my own personal career ladder."

Five boss types he spotlights:

Bully. Driven by rage, manifested by frequent mood swings, manipulation and aggression. Most difficult to manage. "Management by terror has been a time-honored technique because it works."

Paranoid. Motivated by fear, always on the verge of hysteria, highly mistrustful of others. "You can be instrumental in driving him from a low boil to volcanic heights of irrationality."

Narcissist. Incapable of viewing others as real people with real needs. Short attention span. "Just because the guy is a preening rooster, don't get lulled into the idea that he's benign."

Wimp. Driven by anxiety, timid, impressed by fads, takes credit for others' work. "Central to the wimp's pathology . . . is the neurotic desire to be liked by everybody."

Disaster Hunter. Desire and lust are key motivators, doesn't listen, vicious when thwarted, workaholic. "There are few treatments for workaholics, because society doesn't yet see a need for one."

There is hope, if you pay close attention to your boss's actions and react accordingly. For example, the bully is driven by rage, the narcissist by emptiness. Avoiding the bully is smart, but for the narcissist, it's better to stay visible and bring on compliments.

It's important to remember, Bing says, that most out-of-control bosses eventually self-destruct. By the time bosses become Disaster Hunters, they are "heedlessly hurtling toward something inevitable."

Gannett News Service