Having a Narcissistic Boss Affects Your Mental Health

Tamara Lužajić
3 min readMay 30, 2022

A narcissistic personality disorder is defined as a mental health condition characterized by a lack of empathy, a constant need for praise, and a sense of grandiosity.

There are two types of narcissists:

  1. A grandiose type will display a pattern of superiority and pretentiousness. People with grandiose narcissism believe that they are special, unique, and superior.
  2. A covert narcissist may appear shy, but on the inside, they are chronically envious of everyone, can’t handle criticism, and lack empathy for others.

Regardless of the type, narcissistic bosses often seem charming and fun to work with in the beginning. The dark side becomes visible as they become a source of chronic stress for everyone around them.

One of the reasons is that they tend to care only about their own success and are willing to take advantage of others to achieve their goals. With their exaggerated sense of entitlement, narcissistic bosses are also quick to claim credit for other people’s achievements.

How to spot a narcissistic boss?

A typical pattern of a narcissist boss is high employee churn. According to a study, 75% of employees left their jobs not because the job but because of their boss.

Narcissists often come across as charming, charismatic, and confident. That’s why they can easily gather audiences that will admire them for the traits they might be missing themselves.

Here are a few signs that your boss might be a narcissist:

  1. They only talk about themselves
  2. They require constant praise
  3. They take advantage of others
  4. They lack empathy
  5. They are envious of others
  6. They are extremely competitive
  7. They hold long-lasting grudges
  8. They can’t stand criticism
  9. They are constantly on the go
  10. They are insecure

How can a narcissistic boss impact your mental health?

Despite the charm, if the expectations of a narcissistic boss are not met, their employees will soon begin to notice bad moods and excessive irritation.

Unlike good leaders, narcissistic bosses tend to see any behavior that challenges them as a threat that needs to be eliminated because they are very insecure. Unfortunately, this elimination is usually manifested through creating cliques, bullying employees, and even gaslighting them into believing things that are not real.

Employees who work under a narcissistic boss often doubt their work and achievements. As a result, their productivity, concentration, and eventually self-esteem start to deteriorate as well.

Here’s the thing — having a narcissist as a boss is always bad for mental health because they use psychological welfare to ensure their position at work and accumulate the admiration of others.

It’s important to know that dealing with a narcissistic boss can take a big toll on your mental health and you may need to look into professional help with dealing with them if you are experiencing:

  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Low moods
  • Emerging low self-esteem
  • Work anxiety
  • Frequent need for self-assurance from loved ones

Should you stay or should you go?

It’s difficult to quit a job you like because of a narcissistic boss. Also, quitting a job is not always possible — or the answer. You may find your work stimulating and you see the possibility of advancement within a few years.

If you decide to stay, carefully weigh the pros and cons of staying. Even if your job is engaging, if you are working for a destructive narcissist, the position you have now may not be worth it.

Don’t neglect your emotional wellbeing. Always check yourself and take action to preserve your own mental health. Remember that you are not your job and that you need to find an outlet outside your job that will give you a sense of self-worth.