In business, leaders are often those who display charisma and enthusiasm. These qualities are crucial in management positions. However, eagerness often hides the more manipulative qualities in a person. Of course, team members are willing to go above and beyond for a manager who boosts their ego. It’s likely hard to spot the difference between true passion and manipulation. Here are some ways to identify and handle a manipulative leader.
One of the most concrete ways to notice manipulation from an authority figure is by closely paying attention to their messaging. If it is clear that the deliverance of the message is more important to the leader than the actual message, that is cause for concern. Their energy and delivery should never outshine the importance of what they are trying to get across. Some people walk away from meetings or presentation in awe, likely due to the “awestruck effect” of the display. If you can’t remember the key points of what your leader just shared, their manipulation did its job. Try doing your own research on their presented topics so that you have a well-rounded understanding of the area.
Being wary of every encounter with a manipulative leader is key to spotting them. While everyone loves a good compliment, it is one way that devious leaders get you to agree to anything. Professionals often become addicted to approval and seek it out regularly. Manipulative managers are always willing to dish out the kind words but only if you deliver. Supportive leaders coach you through your good and bad times and will compliment your achievements throughout the process. When getting to know your manager, notice if they take the time to appreciate you, even if you don’t deliver.
A surefire way to pick out a manipulative manager is by observing the problem-solving abilities. Sure, they can put out a fire, professionally, but are they willing to own up to mistakes? Many leaders who have alternative agendas, will avoid facing problems in front of their team. Rather than making it a learning experience for all, they confront problems behind closed doors. A strong leader is not ashamed of mistakes, nor are they afraid to face them head-on. If your manager refuses to address a concern or avoids a challenging topic, follow up with them. Should the situation spiral, it is important to loop in a third party, such as Human Resources.