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Quiz: is your boss power-hungry?

A boss on a power trip is never easy to deal with. Unfortunately, they exist to some degree in just about every workplace. Often, a power-hungry boss is the result of a personality high in psychopathy and narcissism, and for this reason, they will happily take advantage of their employees.

Professor Alexander Newman, Associate Dean, International, in the Faculty of Business and Law at Deakin University explains, ‘a power-hungry boss might exhibit aggressive behaviour towards those who do not share their view or support them. They may blame others for their mistakes.’

A lack of empathy can also mean a power-hungry boss will be overly critical and take credit for others’ work. They’ll put their interests ahead of the common good – whether that means employee morale or the efficiency of the entire organisation.

‘They do this because they strive for status and want to look good in the eyes of those above them in the organisational hierarchy,’ Prof. Newman says.

Occasionally though, a boss on a power trip might not realise the impact they’re having on employees. In some cases, a boss’s harshness could be the result of a sense of entitlement. Perhaps they’ve worked within the organisation for many years, or maybe they have a unique skill-set that no one else possesses.


'A power-hungry boss might exhibit aggressive behaviour towards those who do not share their view or support them. They may blame others for their mistakes.'

Prof. Alexander Newman,
Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University

In this case, Prof. Newman advises you should stand up for yourself:

‘Try to argue for your point of view and don’t act in a hostile manner yourself. You might also ask for feedback from the boss or provide constructive feedback yourself.’

It’s also important to realise that a power-hungry boss may behave callously towards employees – especially talented or hardworking ones – because they’re actually incredibly insecure about themselves, Prof. Newman explains.

Power-tripping bosses in this position aren’t likely to respond well to criticism, so it would be wise to approach the situation in a non-confrontational way.

All this being said, be careful not to confuse a power-hungry boss with a boss who just wants to see you do well.

A supportive boss will still critique you, but in a way that you can learn and grow from it. A power-hungry boss will be unfair, harsh and constant in their criticisms.

It’s a difficult position for any employee to be in. There’s an enormous amount of trust you place in your boss, to support and encourage you to do your best work. But, it’s important to see the signs of a power-hungry boss so you can react appropriately.

Do you think you have a power-hungry boss? Take our quiz and find out…

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Professor Alexander Newman
Professor Alexander Newman

Associate Dean, International, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University

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