Psychology Of Challenging Personalities, Managers Guide

challenging personalities



In this guide, we will define and examine various challenging personalities, in reference to managers and followers. In the first part of the guide, an introduction to the psychology of work and personality disorders in the workplace will be provided. In the second part, the abnormal personalities of managers will be discussed. In the third part, abnormal employee personalities will be discussed. 


Part 1 – The Psychology Of Work And Personality Disorders In The Workplace

Managers need to understand the psychology present within the work environment, at both the management and the employee level. An analysis will be provided of the psychological developments that may happen in today’s managers. Even if you are a manager already, it is good to analyze the various abnormal manager personalities, as they provide insight into the potential behaviours that are sometimes part of the profession. Besides understanding management personalities, it is also critical to understand follower personalities. As part of that, gaining a specialized insight into different personality styles will help the manager make better decisions. Good managers know how to deal with different types of people, including knowledge on dealing with colleague and subordinate personality disorders.

So what are personality disorders? The best place to start is with a discussion on traits. People have many different personality traits. For example, some traits could include being compassionate, caring, agreeable, spontaneous, brilliant and so forth. When these traits are such that a person has trouble progressing, has trouble connecting with others, or when they lead to harm, then the term personality disorder is used. For example, if the traits are intense enough such that the person has extreme conduct, that can be a personality disorder. People with personality disorders can show behaviour, or have thoughts, that can cause problems for both themselves, and for people around them. This is not to say that they can’t work. In fact, they are often successful at work. Many employers often overlook strange or dysfunctional behaviour, because many of these individuals display good performance and other positive attributes. An important point to remember is that, when people look for jobs, it is not just about whether their experience and qualifications is a match for the position, but whether or not their personalities are a match. Manager’s need to understand that any issues arising at work with colleagues, may have an underlying cause that could be out of the employee’s full control.


Part 2 – The Psychology Of Challenging Manager Personalities

Narcissistic Managers – When there is a very strong desire to be different than others and to stand out from the rest, those ideas can result in narcissism. Depending on severity of the narcissism, this type of manager may; exploit the workers, display their status regularly, disregard the feelings of the workers, act entitled and superior, reject criticism, promote negativity, and take other’s ideas. Too much narcissism almost always leads to conflict. With too much narcissism, the manager may focus on themselves rather than the responsibilities, and as such, not achieve objectives. They narcissistic manager should be shown that they are liked more for their performance, versus their personality. They should be shown that they would be rewarded for ability to contribute, rather than for their relationships with others. While talking to a narcissistic manager, it is best to maintain a firm composure, act diplomatically, respond with a “no” when appropriate, avoid impulsive reactions, and negotiate firmly.

Depressive Managers – Some managers are depressive. They may experience feelings of worthlessness, guilt and powerlessness. They may not want to make decisions or to take responsibility. Their feelings may lead them to feel angry towards themselves. The depressive managers don’t place the company’s objectives above all other things. They prefer to maintain harmony and calmness within the team, even if that comes at the expense of performance. Depressive managers should focus more on the choices that lead to attaining the best performance. It is best to inform them that they need to focus on achieving performance metrics, and that performance supersedes in importance the overall satisfaction and happiness of people.

Compulsive Managers – Compulsive managers are perfectionists, but they are also inflexible. They are very systematic in their approach towards determining their opinions and actions. They avoid basing things on emotion. There are a few notable downsides. Compulsive managers end up taking things to the extreme. They feel a need of control of things and people. Additionally, they can have a tough time adapting as they have a difficult time in changing their processes. Further, employees who have to deal with their tough rules and procedures can lose motivation. Compulsive managers need to be taught to live with fewer regulations, and to accept a bit of uncertainty. They need to be shown the benefits of such things, such as the increased freedom that could be gained from working in a less obsessive way.

Relationship Managers – Relationship Managers like the idea of connection. They don’t like the idea of being apart from other people. These kinds of managers are modest and often compliant. Further, they don’t just do things for themselves, but are team oriented. There are some risks that these types of managers face, such as; having a good character may allow others to easily take advantage of them, making decisions can be a struggle if it involves going against those they know.

Dramatic Managers – The dramatic managers seek to impress and to gain attention. Instead of telling it like it is, they exaggerate their abilities and their accomplishments. Unfortunately, they can exploit their employees, and keep them in a relationship of dependency.

Suspicious Managers – Suspicious, or distrustful managers, show the following behaviours: paranoia, excessive caution, secrecy, and hostility. Suspicious managers can be antagonized easily. They also tend to make a big deal out of little issues. In addition, they are too rational and too vigilant.

Detached Managers – Detached managers are those that are very distant with others. They act cool, uninterested and are choosy with who they associate with. They don’t need to communicate with others: often choosing to avoid social connections, and to stay in isolation.


Part 3 – The Psychology Of Challenging Follower Personalities

Paranoid Employees – Paranoid employees feature paranoia, cautiousness, suspiciousness and distrust. They look for evidence that corroborate the opinion that they are in danger, all the while ignoring other evidence that would lead one to conclude that things are ok. Their perception of people can be coloured in a negative way. On the positive side, their energy and attentiveness make them good in many types of roles. Sometimes, there can be tension between paranoid employees and their more relaxed team members. A paranoid employee can put others on edge. The manager will have to negotiate between these types of employees. The manager should watch out for any problems this type of employee may crate. They manager should pay careful attention to any fast paced periods, or any period that involves a higher amount of stress, as that can trigger symptoms and conspiracy theories that are not founded in reality.

Schizoid Employees – Schizoid personalities show quite a varied range of attributes, including: lack of interest in social relationships or things, and a tendency towards being secret. On the positive side, they may demonstrate a strong creative capacity, especially in the fields of writing and visual arts. On the negative side, they may demonstrate things such as: abnormalities in thought or perception, a tendency towards a solitary lifestyle and emotional coldness. They can work well, and there are even advantages. Consider that one with a limited social life, and fewer relationships to deal with, has more time available for work. They may even like to work all day without the distractions of other people to ruin their productivity. Unfortunately, they can get distracted, so it is important that their progress is checked up on so as to maintain productivity.

Passive-Aggressive Employees – Individuals with passive-aggressive personality disorder seem to indecisively switch between opposite actions. They end up in arguments and fights with others. A simpler way to look at it, is that the term passive-aggressive comes from the idea of appearing to do well, while actually doing bad. You will need to protect yourself from such a person. You may not see their sabotage, as they tend to follow instructions. Unfortunately, they will violate the spirit of the rules in some way. So how does one spot such an employee? Watch for employees that attempt to reduce their workload, that don’t like their responsibilities, that somehow end up violating rules, and that hide aggression. Letting this type of employee go may be the best answer for both the company and the employee.

Borderline Employees – Borderline personality disorder is used to describe individuals which do not have grounded relationships with others. This disorder includes features such as a lack of stability in relationships, lack of stability in behaviours, and lack of stability in self-image. Also, there may be depression, anger, abandonment fears, and strong emotional swings. It’s not that they are dishonest, but they can believe different things at different times. Further, they prefer to see things as black or white. To some people, it amazes them that borderline personalities are so well functioning at work. This is because work acts as a place of grounding for them, and at work, they are often able to create an atmosphere of stability for themselves. With this type of personality, be the best manager you can be. Offering them an atmosphere of truth and create trust, and this will go a long way.

Narcissistic Employees – Narcissistic personality disorder is a personality disorder where the person is constantly preoccupied with vanity, power and influence. They seek admiration. At the same time, they can lack empathy and are uninterested in the feelings of others. If you are working with this type of person, it is helpful to pay special attention to this type of person when you need to criticize their work. This is because they can become vengeful at the fact that they were criticized. As with other personality types, make sure that you document everything systematically, as this will protect you and the company in case that discipline or termination is necessary.

Antisocial Employees – Antisocial employees disregard the rights of others or violate the rights of others. These individuals are not considerate of the thoughts and feelings of others. They are also either not considerate of rules or regulations, or they disregard them completely. In the more moderate sense, they use they use their knowledge to manipulate others towards meeting their own objectives. It is sometimes hard to accept the fact that others can be this way, so it can come as an unpleasant surprise if you become the victim of such an employee. A good strategy is to keep an eye on the work that is done, track the performance, and keep accurate records of activities and problems.

Obsessive Compulsive Employees – Obsessive–compulsive employees are concerned with perfectionism, too much attention to detail, control and organization. These concerns are often at the expense of efficiency. They may see themselves as always short on the time they need to perform their activities. An employee who is excessively paying attention to the details may be able to meet exact specification requirements, but at the same time, they may take so long to do their work that the work may end up being done late. It is a good idea to realize that they usually try to do their best and can solve complex challenges. For this reason, a good strategy is to go easy on them. Another good strategy is to help them focus on the things they should be working at, and helping them to avoid distraction on unnecessary issues.

Avoidant Employees – Avoidant personality disorder is a personality disorder where people display feelings of inferiority, feelings of inadequacy, social inhibition, and sensitivity to criticism. They may view themselves as not socially skilled or as unappealing, and this leads to a fear of being humiliated or rejected. Often times, you will find them in entry-level positions, because many of these types of positions feature fewer interactions with others. Rather than being authoritative, taking a counseling and constructive mentorship approach works well. If criticism is necessary, attempt to use constructive criticism. These techniques will be useful to you in the event that the employee’s performance declines.

Dependent Employees – Dependent personality disorder can be described as a psychological dependence on other people. At work, they expect to have input from other people. Without this input, they feel feelings of fear. They are effective when there are others around which they can rely on. If the role requires a lot of independent decision making, such as a leadership role, then they may not do so well. In this type of role, they may require a lot of guidance and direction. However, if the role requires less independent decision-making, such as that of a follower role, than they will be able to perform well. The employee reliance on asking for information, can be tiresome to others. However, after some time and effort in training, they do eventually become comfortable at the job. Remember though, they will need to be supervised, corrected, and guided towards achieving success at work.

Histrionic Employees – Histrionic personality disorder is a personality disorder featuring too many attention-seeking emotions and actions. Many times, they try to continuously manipulate others towards achieving their own needs. In addition, histrionic personalities don’t always follow the rules of logic. Organizations, however, are designed with logic. As such, it can be hard for histrionic personalities to progress. Histrionic personalities prefer interaction with people to deep analysis and objective examinations. So they can do well in roles involving interaction with others. To maintain employee effectiveness, the manager should interact with the employee more frequently, perhaps by offering mentorship, direction and supervision.


To see our Donate Page, click

To go back to our Home Page, click

To visit our LinkedIn Page, click

To see some of our Udemy Courses, click SGT Udemy Page

To see our YouTube Channel, click


Share The Knowledge