Create a Personality Disorder
More Than One Way to Create a Personality Disorder
After the Machiavellian and God Bosses are separated from the flock, everyone else is a candidate for Idiot Boss. Or are they? Where do Masochistic Bosses acquire their little idiosyncrasies? Again, in early childhood. Somehow, the child gets fixated on punishment. If you have experience with young children, ages 6 through 12, you’ve seen for yourself that the self-punishers are already at it. We all capture fragments of our parents’ personalities and etch them into our own. Why we chose certain ones and not others is another question for God. Thankfully, most children don’t become masochists. Unfortunately, those that do carry masochism into the workplace. Some become bosses, but most just stay slaves because slavery is consistent with their self-image. If Masochistic Bosses ever hope to enter recovery, they must acknowledge and accept there are other ways to deal with self-indictment. And leave the rest of us out of it, please. If you’re keeping count, the portion of the population left available for just plain stupidity is shrunk even more by the emergence of sadistic personalities in childhood. If you’ve ever worked for a Sadistic Boss, you know it doesn’t take much of a stretch to imagine her torturing small animals as a child. When little Sammy brings his fuzzy bunny to class for Show and Tell, look around the room for the pupil with the narrowing pupils. See Sally over there, leaning forward in her seat, focused like a laser on the furry creature nonchalantly munching on lettuce? Don’t leave Sally alone with Mister Big Ears. In extreme cases, Sadistic Bosses have been known to bring small animals into the office for entertainment. Sadistic Bosses sometimes have elaborate aquariums filled with pet piranhas. Sometimes they keep snakes in a terrarium just to enjoy watching them kill and eat furry creatures. Sadistic Bosses are not recommended as managers at zoos or animal shelters. In the absence of innocent animals to torment, innocent human beings will do. If you have a Sadistic Boss, look at the bright side. You can consider yourself a living sacrifice or human shield, making it possible for another innocent creature to enjoy one more day. Like the other boss types, sadists don’t pick up this behavior in the workplace. They arrive with it. But torture can come from any boss, depending on the circumstances. If you hear blood-curdling screams from down the hall, it’s just as likely that an Idiot Boss has asked someone to put aside productive work and rewrite the mediumrange plan, again. Certain tasks cause immense pain, whether a Sadistic Boss or an Idiot Boss instigates them. The main difference is that the sadist enjoys the suffering of others. The idiot is oblivious to it. Both idiots and sadists are likely to form teams upon which to inflict excruciating pain. The I-Boss does it because he has heard and read the word “team” so many times he thinks it’s a cool thing to do— putting people on teams. And that anything an individual can do is more fun for everybody if they get to do it as a team. The Sadistic Boss relishes the opportunity to stand back and watch a group of people writhe in agony. To her, any pain an individual can suffer is more fun to watch as a group activity if everyone on the team suffers. If Sadistic Bosses ever hope to enter recovery, they must acknowledge and accept that other people have a right to live in comfort and peace. But don’t hold your breath. Many factors conspire to keep Sadistic Bosses in power. For one, the rush they get from watching others suffer is so intense that to buy enough narcotics to deliver a comparable rush would cost millions. The habit is simply too much to give up and too expensive to replace. Another reason Sadistic Bosses are here to stay is that corporate environments, especially those with hierarchical organization charts, are well suited for sadists. Sadists need a disparity of power to operate. The Napoleonic, militaristic, mechanistic, bureaucratic, hierarchical structure in most companies and government agencies guarantees sadism just as surely as leaving your teenager alone at home while you and your spouse vacation out of the country guarantees a party. Paranoid Bosses thin out the field for potential Idiot Bosses. Like everyone else, the peculiar thinking and behavior of Paranoid Bosses can be traced to early childhood. It’s not common, but it shows up in the kindergarten classroom. There have been occasions when I’ve heard, “(So-and-so) hit me,” only to find out that so-and-so is not in school that day. Paranoia, like any other undesirable characteristic, starts early. Paranoid Bosses are tough to work for because they suspect everything you do is part of an insidious conspiracy against them. They think everything you don’t do, but imagined you should have done, is part of an insidious conspiracy against them. By contrast, Idiot Bosses don’t suspect anything. An I-Boss can encounter someone coming out of his office, greet the person warmly, go inside to discover someone has hacked into payroll records, and left the payroll screen on the computer. “Hm-m-m-m,” the Idiot thinks. “I was playing solitaire when I went to the john. Oh, well.” If Paranoid Bosses ever hope to enter recovery, they must acknowledge and accept that other people aren’t always conspiring against them. Unfortunately, there are enough situations when people are conspiring against them to justify a Paranoid Boss’s paranoia. More than any other leadership flaw, paranoia is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more paranoid you act, the more justified you will be. Like the sadist, paranoia didn’t start in the workplace, but the workplace is a fertile environment for it to flourish. Buddy Bosses and I-Bosses are often indistinguishable. However, to the trained eye, Buddy Bosses are probably aware they don’t have any naturally occurring friendships, which is why they so desperately pursue you. Idiots think everybody is their friend. The Buddy Boss’s phobia about being friendless is also rooted in early childhood. There’s an old joke that says his mother had to tie a bone around his neck to get the dog to play with him. I know that’s a tired joke, but it illustrates the plight of a friendless child. Animals are not judgmental and it doesn’t matter what you look like. With the possible exception of great white sharks and other insatiable predators, if you’re kind to animals, they’ll be kind to you— except for cats. Cats live on a one-way street. They might curl up on your lap. But only a King or Queen of Denial can pretend the cat’s behavior has anything to do with making you feel good. Dogs, on the other hand, are great for loving lonely children. The sight of a child with an overzealous puppy is a joyous scene to behold. For the most part, dogs are idiots, which should help dog lovers understand how innocent and innocuous I-Bosses can be. Dogs think that anything they’re doing is the most important thing on Earth at that moment. Unless some illness, degenerative breeding, or perceived threat has altered their dispositions, dogs are perpetually in an insufferably good mood. They love to eat and will eat nearly anything with no regard for expiration date, table manners, or social etiquette. Most I-Bosses stop short of sniffing their dinner companions, but they will repeat mindlessly unimportant activities over and over. Worse, yet, they expect you to join in their never-ending shenanigans and will hound you (no pun intended) unmercifully if you refuse. If you know how to be kind and encouraging to a dumb animal, you possess the majority of skills required to handle an Idiot Boss. If you have a Buddy Boss, be her buddy and get over it. Have a heart. There are probably some dead animals in her past following her encounters with sadists. An I-Boss won’t characteristically carry such emotional baggage. There is an opportunity for joy, even serenity, in cluelessness. I yearn for the days of innocence when I was an aggravation only to others and not to myself. Don’t let anyone tell you that recovery is an easy road.
What happened to us during the handoff from childhood to adulthood? When we were kids, we didn’t accept Idiot Bosses unless they were thrust upon us. We never lined up behind those who appeared to be stupid. If for some miraculous reason I had been made captain of a team, perhaps through a generous bribe of some sort, I would have picked the biggest, strongest, and coolest kids to be on my squad, while my fellow nerds stood in line and watched. Only the cool ruled. Why in adult life do cool people wind up so often working for the uncool? Another question for God. Create a Personality Disorder.
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HOW TO WORK FOR AN IDIOT SURVIVE & THRIVE… WITHOUT KILLING YOUR Boss Cap II: Chapter 3: The Making of an I-Boss (By John Hoover) Part 4