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The Awful Boss Series: The Ego Maniac

Ego Maniac Graphic by Meg

The Ego Maniac

What’s worse than working with someone who believes he (or she) rules the world? The only thing that’s worse than working with someone like this is working forsomeone like this.

I began this “Awful Boss” series late last year with The Snake in the Grass type of awful boss. Most people plan an exit strategy quickly when they report to that undesirable type of boss who lies, cheats, takes credit for employees’ hard work, etc.

This article describes the next in line: The Ego Maniac. This leader has a highly inflated opinion of himself–usually unfounded. His perception is distorted in any number of ways.

He may see himself as:

  • Charismatic–Thinks people are naturally drawn to him
  • Fun–Believes everyone loves him
  • The life of the party–Works to be in the spotlight everywhere he goes
  • Everyone’s friend–Sees himself as “Mr. Congeniality”
  • Attractive–Looks in mirrors, glass window panes to admire his reflection
  • Influential–Overly confident in his ability to persuade others


  • Attention-seeking
  • Pompous “Know it All”
  • Blatantly arrogant
  • Brags about his own accomplishments
  • Overly confident–believes he’s great at everything
  • “I’m right and everyone else is wrong” mentality

Costs of the Awful Boss

The overly confident, ego maniac is like a ticking time bomb–this is often a fatal flaw for many otherwise successful leaders. After all, climbing the ladder requires a certain amount of confidence, correct? Crossing the line, though, to arrogance is inevitably considered a derailer for leaders.

This type of leader develops a serious blind spot. He stops reading social cues and fails to realize when people are turned off by the “one man show” lecture and performance style of leadership.

People who work for this type of awful boss:

  • Hold back information and ideas (What’s the point?)
  • Stop learning and are turned off by any interaction with the boss
  • Stop offering feedback
  • Avoid collaborating with their leader
  • Look for an escape route (away from this boss)
  • Eventually look for ways to sabotage him

How Can the Ego Maniac Recover and Prevent Derailing?

Simply, he must first recognize the problem. One of the best tools for helping the awful boss become aware of this pending disaster is to ask for feedback. Through the use of a 360 assessment the leader may be shocked to see himself through others’ eyes. This alone can get his attention enough to make a change.

Having a mentor is another great resource for the ego maniac. A skilled mentor can offer honest feedback that can break through even the toughest blindspot.

Finally, executive coaching can accelerate development in ways other options simply cannot. A skilled coach can serve as a trusted advisor who will give straight feedback and help the ego maniac avoid derailment. This happens over time with a sound development plan and excellent coaching to the plan. This is a curable “disease”!

For more information: kathy@kathycooperman.com, 720-542-3324, www.kathycooperman.com

© Copyright 2015, KC Leadership Consulting, LLC. All rights reserved.

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