Create a Personality Disorder

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.

Create a Personality Disorder
Create a Personality Disorder

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

Origins of Idiot Power

Origins of Idiot Power

With a little power, I-Bosses can drive you crazy. With a lot of
power, they can terrorize the planet. Not because they are evil, but
because they just get certain bizarre thoughts in their heads. And
that’s dangerous in a head not designed for thinking. Where does
idiot power come from to begin with? Is there a mother of all idiots?
Is there a higher power reserved exclusively for the feeble minded? Is
there an idol from ancient mythology all idiots worship? Do Idiot
Bosses have little statues of their idiot gods hidden in little shrines in
their closets? Do they have pictures of their idiot gods hidden in their
underwear drawers? Are there secret, underground meetings of IBoss
societies, with lots of chanting, incense burning, and draft beer?
There must be some common, cosmic thread running through all
workplace idiocy. Idiots at work all tend to think alike. Idiots at work
all tend to walk alike. Idiots at work all talk alike. Most people can
spot an I-Boss from 100 yards with their eyes closed. They all appear
to be cut from the same cloth, if you can call Velcro cloth. When I
was at the zenith of my career as an Idiot Boss, I always had something
stuck to my shoe or the back of my pants.

Nature or nurture?

The belief that I-Bosses occur naturally in the random selection of
nature raises some interesting questions. If becoming an I-Boss is a natural
progression then the disorder must have its origins in the prenatal
equation. For those who skipped their psych classes in college to catch
up on sleep, the prenatal equation means in the womb.
Was it a chemical imbalance or oxygen deprivation? The former
is a pervasive, ongoing condition that can possibly be treated with
medication. Neurological damage is harder, if not impossible, to overcome.
In either case, it’s people working for I-Bosses who need medicating.
Sometimes Mother Nature deals some nasty cards. However,
with early detection and extensive therapy, I-Bosses like me can turn
it around and transform our oversupply of lemons into lemonade.

Some I-Bosses can eventually conduct meetings and stay tuned into
what’s being said throughout, whether or not they understand or

If I-Bosses are caused by nurture instead of nature, the questions
change. (That’s environment vs. genetics for those that slept through
Psych 101.) What did the child see when he first opened his eyes?
Was there a “Wash your hands after using the restroom” notice on
the wall of the delivery room? Did the kid look directly into the bright
light? Something started the snowball down the hill. What if babies
are switched in the nursery? What if the cool one goes home with the
nerdy parents or vice versa?

If you notice a child in a kindergarten classroom sharing candy with another student, don't be seduced into the liberal mindset that there is inherent generativity (niceness)
If you notice a child in a kindergarten classroom sharing candy with another student, don’t be seduced into the liberal mindset that there is inherent generativity (niceness)

What effect does breast-feeding have on coolness vs. ultimate stupidity?
There are babies who can’t figure out how to suck on a breast
when it is presented. Perhaps that’s an early sign of management aptitude.
If so, we’re right back in the nature camp. To the advocates of
the nurture argument, the influence must come incrementally, beginning
in early childhood.

When the post-World War II parents let their children watch
Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, the fate of the next generation in the
workplace was sealed. Iowa Basic Skills Tests, Petticoat Junction,
Lucille Ball’s seventh sitcom series, sock hops, sleepovers, hippies,
dippies, yippies—somewhere in the middle of it all, the I-Bosses took
control while the rest of the workforce was distracted. Once control
of the workplace was lost, it became nearly impossible to get it back.

How the cards are dealt

Beyond the nature vs. nurture argument about how an idiot came
to be an idiot, the larger question is, What can be done about it now?
An idiot didn’t become an idiot on the job. He arrived in that condition.
Our characters are forged and galvanized long before we punch
our first clocks. The characteristics of a good boss are rooted in some
mysterious combination of biological and social influences. Despite
the research and inquiry we can conduct in the fields of psychology
and neurological science, God still holds the human development
equivalent to the Coca-Cola formula and He’s not sharing it with us.
Even the God Boss type has its origins in early childhood. If you
really want to spend your time researching the God Boss syndrome,
their moms might be a good place to start. If the God Boss ever hopes
to enter recovery, he must accept and acknowledge there has been a
slight case of mistaken identity. To expect a God Boss to ever acknowledge
and accept such a thing is a tall order. After all, if you
really believe you’re God and then discover you’re not, the only direction
to go is down.

The Machiavellian Boss was Machiavellian in kindergarten. Whatever
made her aspire to the top spot started early and was well established
before she stuffed the ballot box and was elected class president
for the first time. Whatever made the Machiavellian think there is
only room for one at the top of the pyramid came early on. Having
been a substitute teacher in kindergarten classrooms enough to develop
a nervous twitch in my left eye, I’ve observed young children
don’t naturally take to sharing. Kindergarten is a German word that
means ‘this is why you drink.’

Not only do 5-year-olds not share, they have no innate respect for
the property of others. Two statements I heard a lot in kindergarten
classrooms were, “Dr. John, (So-and-so) hit me,” and “Dr. John, he
took my (fill in the blank).” The most common statement out of a
kindergartner’s mouth is, “Dr. John, I have to go to the bathroom.”
This paragraph conjures images of offices I’ve managed.
It might be all children are born with the Machiavellian gene and
lay claim to the mountaintop. Then they start getting knocked off one
by one. If an older sibling doesn’t do it first, their kindergarten classmates
will. Some give up right away and occupy themselves with isolated
activities on the periphery of life. Some try to climb back up the
mountain only to be knocked off repeatedly.

Gradually, over the years, each child abdicates his claim to the
top spot, leaving only the most passionately driven Machiavellian to
acquire and hold on to it. It’s not a matter of brute force. Machiavellian
children learn quickly that physical strength is not the key to
success. Cunning is a much more valuable skill.

If you notice a child in a kindergarten classroom sharing candy
with another student, don’t be seduced into the liberal mindset that
there is inherent generativity (niceness) in everyone and it will blossom
if only given the chance. The “benevolent” child is more than
likely a Machiavellian Boss in training, and she is practicing the fine
art of manipulation. I promise, if you teach a kindergarten class for
one day, you will see more unholy alliances formed and betrayed than
50 years at the United Nations. Yet, if a Machiavellian ever hopes to
enter recovery, she must acknowledge and accept that there are other
ways to view success. Maybe there is room for a group shot on the


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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 3

Choosing Cool Role Models

Choosing Cool Role Models


Choosing Cool Role Models
Choosing Cool Role Models

My horizons were internal for the most part. I was a nerdy Iowa
kid, imagining great wonders for the future, all through the lens of
Hollywood. I could have emulated Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments, but I didn’t. He wasn’t cool enough for me. Without some moral absolute about who this Higher Power should be and what He should look like, it’s possible to travel well down the wrong road before figuring out that anything is askew.

Cool is a natural condition, not a conditioned nature. Cool just is.
God decides who gets to be cool and who doesn’t, which has been a
thorn in my theological side for some time now. All of my righteous
indignation on the subject aside, as a rule, I-Bosses are not cool. Their
uncoolness is a natural omission, just as other people’s coolness is a
natural gift. To what degree is coolness an inside-out issue vs. an outside-
in issue? Does coolness emanate from within certain individuals
or does it exist only in the way others see them? Maybe it’s both
intrinsic and extrinsic. My list of questions for God is getting longer.

Think of your I-Boss. Who did he select as a role model? Is the
role model cool or uncool? Can you guess from his personality and
behavior? Can you believe that thousands of managers bought the book
Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun, dreaming of someday having a
reputation on the street like Attila? I don’t have the exact numbers,
but I doubt that Jesus as CEO sold as many copies as Leadership
Secrets of Attila the Hun or the sequel, Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun
because hardcore business types didn’t think the Savior had his profit
motive in the right place.

Choosing Cool Role Models
Choosing Cool Role Models



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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 2


The Making of an I-Boss

The Making of an I-Boss

The perennial argument rages: Are idiots the product of nature or nurture? Are Idiot Bosses a fly in the ointment of evolution or God’s sense of humor? God has a sense of humor. Have you ever seen a duck run? I’m personally leaning toward the ‘big bang’ theory in the evolution vs. creation argument. However, the Big Bang theory still doesn’t explain whether or not God was playing with firecrackers one day and boom—we had birth, death, and taxes. If life on this planet was set into motion by one enormous explosion, then it would make sense that Idiot Bosses were the leftover shrapnel. I was taught in Sunday school that God created everyone and everything with a purpose, and a purpose for everything and everyone. Apparently, the first I-Boss was in the john when God was handing out assignments. What purpose can there be in stupidity?

The Making of an I-Boss
The Making of an I-Boss

The Third Step: “We decided to turn over our lives to our Higher Power—as we understand Him.” Understanding how your background has set you on a course of tolerance or intolerance for stupidity is essential if you are to become more adept at dealing with your Idiot Boss. Without self-reflection, framed in the context of your Higher Power, how will you ever know if the discomfort and frustration you attribute to your I-Boss is real or a product of your imagination? Most likely, it is a combination of both. A refreshing swim in the Pacific Ocean is a welcome thing if you’re vacationing in a Maui beach condominium. What if your sailboat capsizes five miles off shore? Same water, same temperature, different psychological response. How well you will be able to thrive in spite of your Idiot Boss depends on how aware you are of your own temperament and the chemical reaction when you and your I-Boss are in the same room. Your Higher Power is important to your understanding because He created you and your I-Boss. You’re both swimming in the same water, so to speak. You are different creatures within the same system. But how different are you? You might fit together in some cosmic way you just haven’t figured out yet. As you follow my journey to enlightenment, consider your own. Don’t be surprised if you start feeling more peaceful and sleep better at night, which means you’re getting it. The Making of an I-Boss



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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 1

Idiot Bosses

Idiot Bosses

Thank the Lord for small blessings. Unlike the God, Machiavellian, Masochistic, Sadistic, Paranoid, and Buddy Bosses, the I-Boss is simply a chronically clueless mutant from the evolutionary journey of the species. The wagon of human development hit a bump somewhere and the I-Boss was left sitting in the middle of the road, in a cloud of dust, rubbing the bump on his head. From there, he wandered into a nearby office and before long was running it. Welcome to Idiot World. Although there will be some occasional references to the various boss types, the rest of this book is mostly a guide to understanding, I-Bosses, for there are so many. The good news is your I-Boss probably won’t think he’s God, be shrewd enough to surgically slice her way to the top, mutilate himself and bleed all over your desk, cause lacerations leaving you bleeding all over your desk, see blood droplets on the carpet and think they mark the way for Ninjas to sneak in and attack when he is not looking, or plug her umbilical cord into your fuel cell and start living off your energy. The Second Step: “I realized that the challenge of an Idiot Boss was too big for me to handle by myself and I needed a power bigger than all Idiot Bosses combined to keep me from going crazy.” I believe that God loves I-Bosses just the same as the rest of us. If not, why make so many of them? They are here to test our faith, secure our sanity, and teach survival skills. You see, all things work together for good. We might start thinking we really can control the world around us were it not for idiots. Our sanity depends on how sincerely and completely we turn our I-Bosses over to the omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent care of God, as we understand Her. Idiot Bosses keep us honest. If we don’t have them around, how can they enrich our lives? Like the country song says, “I can’t tell you how much I miss you if you won’t go away.” Be thankful for your I-Boss. He might be the easiest to work with and the least threatening to your health of all the other boss types. A reminder: Make sure your boss is an I-Boss before you start applying I-Boss intervention methods and techniques. Attempting to use I-Boss solutions on other boss types is like running a cross-platform application with incompatible software. At best, you will crash the system. At worst you might set off an intermolecular reaction causing the planet to implode, creating a black hole sucking all known matter in our galaxy into nonexistence, leaving only Idiot Bosses in charge after the next Big Bang.

I believe that God loves I-Bosses just the same as the rest of us. If not, why make so many of them? They are here to test our faith,
I believe that God loves I-Bosses just the same as the rest of us. If not, why make so many of them? They are here to test our faith,

Not every boss is an idiot and not every idiot is a boss. The best you can do is be prepared to deal with whatever comes your way. Let go and let God. But remember you are His arms and legs. When He asks to borrow them, let Him. Idiot Bosses.

HOW TO WORK FOR AN IDIOT SURVIVE & THRIVE… WITHOUT KILLING YOUR Boss Cap II: Chapter 2: Will the Real Idiot Please Stand Up? (By John Hoover) Part11

Buddy Bosses

Buddy Bosses
Buddy Bosses

Buddy Bosses

I don’t need any more friends, do you? Buddy Bosses are so determined
to occupy the same space in the universe with you that you’ll
welcome any excuse to elude them. This includes working. “Sorry
boss,” you rehearse saying in the mirror, putting on the most pitiful
face you can conjure. “The CEO just gave me a deadline directly.”
Logic like this places a Buddy Boss in the same type of paradoxical
bind Brer Rabbit laid on the fox. If you are fired, she loses a buddy
and has to break in someone new to replace you. So distressed is she
that you’re not available, she doesn’t even question why the CEO
might be giving you orders directly.

buddyYour Buddy Boss wants to hang with you, but she doesn’t want
you to get in trouble and not like her. If she has the power to relax a
deadline or get you out of a tough assignment altogether, it might be
worth kicking around with her a bit. With most Buddy Bosses, however,
people prefer to double their workload rather than becoming
joined at the head.

Buddy Bosses can be aggravating and annoying, but they are also
some of the most malleable bosses around. You can exert positive
influences on them more effectively than with almost any other type
of boss. If you are equally as emotionally needy as your Buddy Boss,
it could be a marriage made in heaven, although I would rather go to
another heaven.

■ Invite your Buddy Boss to everything. She is going to
come anyway. Trying to sneak events around a Buddy
Boss can be disastrous. She’ll be hurt if she finds out you
didn’t include her and you’ll be saddled with a sulking
boss, which would only appeal to a sadist.

■ Share information openly with her. This will make her
feel included. Sharing information openly is a sound organizational
practice. Remain mindful, though, that these
Will the Real Idiot Please Stand Up? 57
various boss personalities—with the exception of the
Good Boss—are not concerned first and foremost with
best practices. In a practical sense, you can bind up a
Buddy Boss to a degree by flooding her with information,
which in turn keeps her out of your way temporarily
while you try to work.

■ Request meetings. A Buddy Boss might enthusiastically
gather her chicks around her, but if it’s always at her
suggestion, she might eventually become annoyed and
even saddened. If you request a staff meeting at least
once per week, the time can be put to productive organizational
use and your Buddy Boss will be pleased that
you took the initiative. To her, it means you care. She’ll
gladly let you plan and conduct the meeting, which puts
the ball in your court to shape the environment.

■ Post pictures with her in them. Visual demonstrations
and reminders of her inclusion in all things will assure
her emotionally. Buddy Bosses are generally lonely people
and a little attention can go a long way. A departmental
bulletin board featuring photographs of her with various
groups of team members can fill the empty spaces diminishing
her need to bug you constantly.

■ Target e-mails and other correspondence to remind her
that she’s not alone. It doesn’t take very many words to
say, “Hi.” The “How are you doing?” is implied. Sending
pictures and funny stories to her e-mail address also promotes
her sense of inclusion. If you know her home email
address, include that on the cc line and make sure
the net of friendliness captures her wherever she is.

■ Beware the confessional. Your Buddy Boss will devote
endless hours to hearing your confessions and making
hers to you. This is a potential disconnect from getting
any appreciable work done. When a confession begins,
ask politely if you can hear it later because there are too
many pressing issues at that moment to give her your
complete and undivided attention. This is a true statement
and allows you more control over when you can be
distracted. She will be pleased with the anticipation of
your conversation.

■ Set time limits. When your Buddy Boss asks, “Do you
have a minute?” Tell her you have three. This behavior
modification technique is generally effective if applied
consistently. If every time she asks for your time, and
you set a limit, she will tend not to ask when her intention
is to engage you in an open-ended conversation.

Your Buddy Boss, if you can stand being around her, is not the
most intolerable department head or supervisor you can work for.
Getting along with her simply requires ignoring everything you’re being
paid to do and hanging out. Dedicated workers get hit the hardest
by Buddy Bosses because they must work nights and weekends to do
the things they would have done if they weren’t discussing news,
weather, and sports with their Buddy Bosses. You will probably just
need to suck it up and work around your Buddy Boss’ situation. With
luck, you might get transferred to an Idiot Boss.


HOW TO WORK FOR AN IDIOT SURVIVE & THRIVE… WITHOUT KILLING YOUR Boss Cap II: Chapter 2: Will the Real Idiot Please Stand Up? (By John Hoover) Part10

Paranoid Bosses

Paranoid Bosses

A Paranoid Boss is a piece of work. To Paranoid Bosses, everything
and everybody is out to get them, including you. Working for a Paranoid
Boss can be a real treat. Anything you do, for whatever reason, is
an attempt to subvert your boss, or so he thinks. What can you do?

Paranoid Bosses
Paranoid Bosses

Very little. Paranoia is a sticky wicket. It exists largely in the paranoid’s
imagination, which is not a sector accessible to you or anybody else.
Paranoia can feed on itself and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Paranoid Boss spends his energy searching out and exposing the
conspiracy against him. Sometimes he actually finds one. But most of
the time, he has to invent one. Either way, the focus and leadership
that should have been committed to departmental objectives is wasted
and the whole operation goes in the tank—thus confirming the paranoid
boss’s contention that someone conspired to sabotage his operation.
He doesn’t need to have any evidence, only a failed operation.
That’s enough to feed the paranoia until next time.

Escaping the Paranoid Boss is not hard. If you can make him
believe you’re part of the conspiracy, he will do everything he can to
have you punished, which in most organizations will result in your
transfer because termination is such a litigious exposure these days
and everybody knows he’s paranoid anyway.

Although it’s ethically suspect, you might want to try coughing at
meetings. Your Paranoid Boss will immediately stop whatever he’s
doing and say, “What? What’s going on?” Look around the room and
say, “Nothing.” Approximately 90 seconds later, signal one of your
coconspirators to cough. Tap out Morse Code on the top of the conference
table and have one of your coconspirators tap back. When
your Paranoid Boss turns and asks, “What? What’s going on?” shrug
your shoulders. The more you deny his accusations the more he will
suspect you and work to have you removed from his department.
Times and circumstances change. For most professionals, the employment
landscape is nearly unrecognizable from what it was a few
years ago. Industry-wide fiscal setbacks, corporate cutbacks, and
downsizing often limit the options you once had to move easily and
freely around the organization. If escaping your paranoid boss is not as
easy as you had hoped, you can employ tactics to make the relationship

  • Keep your activities in plain sight. It might not occur to you that a Paranoid Boss can see an innocent conversation by the coffee machine as a threat. Once again, use your imagination. These people don’t think like you. Stay one step ahead of your Paranoid Boss by intentionally avoiding the appearance of secret activity.
  • Like the Machiavellian Boss, copy your Paranoid Boss on everything. Let him tell you when to stop. A constant flow of information serves two purposes. First, he will think, by its sheer volume, information is being disclosed more than withheld. Second, he will be sufficiently occupied with reading the information that he’ll have less time to ruminate about conspiracies.
  • Spend more time with him. It’s hard for a Paranoid Boss to imagine you conspiring if you’re in his face. Imagination is a key term because that’s where the conspiracies exist—in his imagination. If creating a more copasetic work environment is your main objective, invite your Paranoid Boss to spend time with you and your coworkers.
  • Share the knowledge. Use terms and phrases indicating that you not only share information freely with your Paranoid Boss, but also with the rest of the organization. Indicate in your correspondences how widely you distribute information. Come right out and say, “As I shared with [so-and-so]…” This will decrease his anxiety level, knowing that information shared over a larger population reduces the probability of a mass conspiracy.
  • Share secrets. Disclose to your Paranoid Boss some of your inner thoughts, within reason. Demonstrating your trust for him will invite his trust in return. It’s hard to distrust someone who demonstrates trust in you. Paranoids are not completely hopeless. Sharing will also demonstrate a new way of being for a person who might adopt a new attitude around you, given enough encouragement.Be a genuine listener if he decides to share with you.
  • Put on the uniform. Rather than herd out of the office for the company softball game, which your Paranoid Boss will interpret as a sure sign you’re all on your way to an underground meeting, put on your softball uniforms first.

Not that you can’t conspire against your Paranoid Boss
while dressed in softball uniforms, but it at least appears
that you’re doing something legitimate. And of course
invite him to come to the game. If he doesn’t, bring pictures
and a post game report to the office the following

Like any other personality disorder, you have no real control over
a Paranoid Boss. But you can do a great deal to influence the environment
in a positive way. That much power you do have. Deciding not
to intentionally do things to shape your environment the way you prefer
it to be will help bring about the environment you don’t want.
Inaction around the office is not innocuous.

Paranoid Bosses

HOW TO WORK FOR AN IDIOT SURVIVE & THRIVE… WITHOUT KILLING YOUR Boss Cap II: Chapter 2: Will the Real Idiot Please Stand Up? (By John Hoover) Part9