5 Habits of highly narcissist managers


Narcissist [thesaurus] – concerned only with oneself.

Of course, there are more definitions and explanations in thesaurus to explain the word better, but let’s stick to the main definition for now.

Despite so many materials available in so many different forms, I’m really not sure why many managers can’t even pretend they are not narcissists. We always come across one manager in even a 50 member “organization” who thinks his/her word is final and no one “below” them can have any opinions that differ it. Well, more on why managers feel the need to fuel their own glorified ego’s on a daily basis in a later post, but the below are some of the habits I’ve seen many managers display consistently that earns them the right to be labeled “narcissists”, and with all due respects, I’ve probably had some of these and maybe still have some too.

There is an opinion they have formed, and that is non-negotiable – And we can only fuel it, not differ from it. I once worked with manager (peer thankfully) who carried opinions of people for more than 3 years, same opinion from the time the people joined as trainees to the time they moved on to become reviewers of others work. Sometimes, they even damn hard, real and objective results against the same.

Damn results, proximity matters – Many times, narcissist managers tend to overlook results to ensure the safety net of people in their close proximity. This happens mainly when they want to build a yes men team who would not get any smarter than them and would not be a threat to their own positions.

They generally point upwards – When managers more often tell you that something has come from upwards and we need to follow it, be rest assured that they are hinting that’s what they want you to do as well, follow their instructions since anyway it has come down the hierarchy.

Indicative behavior matters the most – Mainly the ones that satisfies their own positions in their own world. For example, do you come before them and leave after them? Do you respect them by not sitting in front of them? Do you hide your face when you meet them at the hallway to show that you are not yet prepared to meet them eye-eye? Are you sure you address them “properly” in mails?

Appreciations are hard to come by, but reprimands flow freely – Some people can hide this trait under the guise of being tough masters with sky-high expectations. Nothing wrong with that, but just that these expectations are never documented or presented to the concerned people, making them hit targets that was not shown in the first place.

So what do you think? Am I missing more from the list? Or have corporate managers really taken a turn for good and these need not apply anymore?


What Every Employee Needs…


Ask any fist line or second line manager what his or her biggest challenges are, there is a 8-on-10 chance that the top 3 would contain something related to motivating and aligning people to common objectives. Everyone has their own motivators and personal goals, and primary use they see of an organization or employer is to meet those goals. And many managers fail because they are either not interested in understanding this and try to push their own goals unilaterally, or try to be nice to everyone and in the process fail to meet any of the expectations – of their own managers and people they are responsible for. As a result, it’s a common conclusion that identifying the motivators of each of their employees and providing appropriate avenues for that is a futile exercise since it is so diverse and hence might not be feasible to achieve.

Though this is a very valid argument and also true in many instances, one common need I have noticed in my experience is, almost all employees want GROWTH. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggests that every human being has various degrees of needs at various stages.

Maslow Needs Heirarchy

In my experience, what I have noticed is, all employees want growth or evolution in whichever stage of need they are in. The true challenge for any manager is to figure out which stage the employee is in, and enable an environment of growth in the stage. Sometimes it will work, and many times it might not. This would also hold good while managing upwards. For managers to really succeed, it’s better to understand what is implied as the “need of the hour” for the organization and enable people achieve growth in that need – rather than “meeting” those needs. And personally, I have failed on this many times. In my opinion, truly successful managers are those that are able to enable an environment of constant growth for the organizational needs and the needs of people whom they work with.

And leadership maturity is having the ability to differentiate between providing “opportunities to satisfy a need” and “opportunities for growth in that need”.

What do you think? Should managers concentrate on satisfying particular needs or providing growth in a desired area?

When Am I a Successful Manager?


Being a manager means so many things to so many people. And unfortunately, success for a manager is also defined in so many different ways that it’s a rare chance two people will always give the same answer if ever asked. These are something’s I see as success indicators for a manager, but then, these are my opinions and experiences, and could be right, wrong or even left. Looking forward for thoughts, comments and of course, criticism too.

Success for a manager can probably be seen in two ways, success in terms of business results and success in terms of team’s performance. When it comes to team’s performance:

  • Success is not about low turn around rates always. More than low turn around rates, success for a manager is also about where and how people from the team are placed once they move out. A team member sticking to a particular team or manager may not only be a result of his/her preference, but also the fact that the manager has not enabled the people he/she is responsible for enough to actually be successful beyond the particular job function. This is dicey for both the team and the manager. It could well be because the manager actually does not think beyond the current role for both the team and himself/herself.
  • Being popular need not mean being successful. This is probably the most clichéd quote, so I’m probably not going to explain this further. That being said, being unpopular with the team and popular with executives is not a sign of success either. A truly successful manager is popular with both the team and the management – and not for antics, but for results.
  • Another key success trait for a manager is when each and every reportee of him/her knows exactly what is expected of them. This could again sound clichéd, but more than knowing what is expected, I also feel it is important for a manager to share exactly what each of the performance standards mean and how a person will be rated during the dreaded performance cycles. I feel every reportee should know what each performance parameter means to the manager, what is the scale of rating, and what each point in the scale means.
  • Also important is the knowledge of what it takes to move to the next level. This sets a level playing field, and also shows that the manager is truly interested in the success of his/her people not just in the current job roles, but also larger ones.

Success from business results stand point of view is actually pretty simple. Whatever you do, please meet customer expectations!!! Sounds simple right? But this is probably the toughest thing for any manager to do. There is so much talk about “customer delight” in the Indian IT industry in particular, but honestly, customers would be more than happy if we just meet their expectations I guess. This was the success mantra of Flipkart.com, and boy have they grown!!! Reflecting on the instances when we were customers, I’m sure we will agree that we will be more than happy if Chinese food smelt and tasted like Chinese food, and being exquisite etc will only be over and above satisfying that primary need.

What do you think? These are just a set of thoughts I could think of, and would definitely add more when I think of them.

Why do you want to become a Manager?


I see a lot of people who say they want to become managers, which is a good goal to have no doubt. But when I ask them why, most of the answers hover around more money and a better status symbol. Well, honestly, I don’t think we need to be managers for either. M.K.Gandhi was not a manager, but I guess he had both. So did Martin Luther King Jr, and the list can go on.

So for people who really want to be Managers for the above two reasons, here are some of the “harder things” nobody talks about:

  • Being a manager is a thankless job. All results you produce, is neither sufficient for the team nor your supervisors, and honestly, you too. Are you open to criticism? (Please note the usage of the word “criticism” over “feedback”).
  • The chances of failure are much more than the chances of success in our ventures. Are you prepared to take it in your stride?
  • We need to quantify our instincts to sell our point, again both to the team and our supervisors. Are you prepared to sit and work out formulas for the same?
  • Honestly, being a manager is hard work and can make one feel lonely. Are you prepared to deal with it?

I can go on, but I don’t want to convey a feeling that being a manager is a bad thing, and not a good goal to have. So, to remove any such impressions, here are the good things about being a manager:

  • We honestly have a responsibility over the direction the organization must take and no longer get to do what the boss says. It’s all about how we use it.
  • We have the liberty to promote or at least present in a positive light people who have the urge to perform and grow. Again, it’s about how we use it.
  • It is definitely more responsibility towards all the stakeholders and hence, increases our personal brand equity.
  • We will have the liberty to test our pet projects and ideas. But please see points 2, 3 from the previous list.

So a good question to ask ourselves could be, Why should I become a manager? Is being a manager my goal or my perception of a way to achieve my larger goals? Who knows, the right answers to these questions can even make one think being a manager is not the solution, and also help us arrive at better ways to achieve our goals!!!

The key then could be, WHAT IS OUR GOAL/AMBITION? More on that in the next post.

PS: I know this is a very sensitive subject and will like some honest feedback on my thoughts. I could pretty well be wrong, and like to know what you feel about this.

How can you motivate your manager


We come across numerous articles on how to motivate team members and most of them typically revolve around some of the points listed below:

  • Working with a responsive boss
  • High levels of trust displayed by the direct supervisor
  • Having a proper reward systems in place
  • Interesting and challenging responsibilities
  • Working in a good work environment
  • Being paid on par with the other players in the industry
  • Etc…

A lot of people management training also focuses on many key parameters including some listed above. But at the other side of the spectrum, the manager is a human being too, who needs motivation to perform better and help the team perform better. I guess we all pretty much agree that any human relationship must be a mutually beneficial and conductive engagement, and in my opinion, a supervisor-subordinate relationship is (and should be) no different. As much as it is the responsibility of the manager to motivate team members, there are a few things we can also do to motivate our managers. These are not impossible things to do, but doing these would only keep us in the good books of the manager – without compromising our values that is.

Being a can-do team member – Agreed, it is the responsibility of manager to build a can-do team, but certain times, people are so judgmental that even honest intentions are taken otherwise. If we are approached by our manager for some “challenging assignment”, please understand that he/she has picked us among the lot because we have shown behavioral traits to overcome challenges. There is no reason to cringe additional responsibility, rather we can be proud of the fact that we are the chosen one. Its better to discuss and work around challenges, than being defensive. Honestly, do you believe your manager would respond to you positively if you don’t?

Trusting your manager – Like it or not, believe it or not, your manager has more challenges than you can imagine. Expecting our manager to disclose all information before starting off anything is not feasible. Yes, trust is a mutual thing, but once we see traits of trust in our manager, is it not our responsibility to respond appropriately? Do you expect the manager to unconditionally trust you without reciprocation?

Understanding the reward system and working with it – It is generally not uncommon to crib about the reward system when we see a peer being rewarded and not us. If there is a proper reward system in place, it is better to understand the parameters and work towards them. If we can’t figure it, just ASK!!! It is not right to brand a system/decision biased without understanding it properly.

Taking Initiatives – Responsibility is generally given to people who display traits of handling the the unknown. The best to way to do it is by taking initiatives – I mean “initiating” things on our own and seeing it to completion. Just completing the assigned responsibilities is not the ticket to promotions or bigger things – it just ensures our paycheck.

Not being the negative force of the team – We all want to work in a good, professional work environment. But isn’t the environment is made of & by people who are part of it? What have we done to make the environment better for our part? At least, what have we done to ensure we don’t make it worser? Being a cribber, pretender, back stabber, the greedy goon, the office bully are the best ways to ensure we get noticed for all the wrong reasons. Work life balance is one of the most discussed topics these days, but sometimes I get the feeling that having a good work life balance is all about having the ability to dump work to attend to personal things – please correct me if I’m wrong.

Not expecting unrealistic and undeserved salary hikes – We all need money to survive, but honestly, is that the only reason we work for? If yes, be rest assured that we cannot find peace even if we work for a peace mission. If no, ponder over (and give feedback) on the points suggested above.

This is just a suggestive list and I’m hoping for comments from everyone for a better understanding. And if you feel you perfectly fit the bill and still not getting your due, then the best advice you can get is to dump your current job and move on.

Note: I have a manager too!!

%d bloggers like this: