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A boss yells into a megaphone while a worker cowers at a desk. (Ferran Traite Soler/iStockphoto)
A boss yells into a megaphone while a worker cowers at a desk. (Ferran Traite Soler/iStockphoto)


How to survive the psycho in the corner office Add to ...

Dear Corporate Governess

I finally made it to VP, but it turns out my new boss is a psychopath. He’s charming and well put together, but he enjoys tormenting us with mind games and playing us off one another.

—Rebecca B., Toronto

Dear Rebecca

The upper ranks are crawling with guys like this—studies have shown that anywhere from 3% to 20% of top managers display psychopathic traits, compared to 1% among the general population. Your first defence is to establish some emotional distance. Don’t get sucked in by his charm. Think of him as the executive version of the gorgeous but deadly poison-dart frog, which can kill up to 20 humans. That’s not someone to have a beer with after work. But don’t avoid him, either—that could just pique his interest. Above all, don’t let it get personal. He can’t draw you into whatever drama he’s creating if you don’t react to his ego-driven games.

Instead, be the professional even when he’s not, the go-to person who gets things done despite the noise. But if he says something disrespectful about you or a colleague, call him on it. Bullies have a way of backing down when confronted. Unchecked, it will only escalate. I’d also keep a diary of his misdeeds—because you may need it some day. 

In the meantime, laugh off his antics: “I know you can’t be serious. Now what was it you wanted to talk to me about?”


Dear Corporate Governess

I’m an investment banker, and my wife just had her first baby. I’d like to take paternity leave, but how do I avoid taking a career hit?                

—Adam G., Calgary

Dear Adam

Personally, I think there’s nothing sexier than a man wearing a Baby Bjorn. And their ranks are growing. Though Canada’s paternity benefits lag behind the likes of France (which gives dads up to six months), the number of Quebec papas taking pat-leave tripled between 2005 and 2013. And if Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg can take off two months to spend time with his newborn daughter, so can you. You might even be seen as a leader for doing so.

Discuss it with your bosses first, assuring them of your continued career ambitions. Then keep in touch while you’re away, so you’re not forgotten. Maybe even drop in occasionally, adorable babe in tow. You might still miss out on some short-term opportunities, but the long-term benefits of bonding with your baby are priceless. And according to research from the University of Massachusetts, a man’s earnings increase by more than 6% when he becomes a father. (A woman’s, incidentally, decrease by 4% with each kid.)

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