Trumped by your own boss

James Comey said he was confused by Trump’s behaviour. Several pieces of Comey’s evidence struck me as familiar when dealing with toxic leaders:  The president and I had multiple conversations about my job. He repeatedly told me I was doing a great job and asked if I would stay on. I told him I intended to serve out the remaining six years of my term” and later “The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to” and “Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, “I need loyalty””.

If you’ve worked up close with the sort of boss Trump appears to be you might have noticed certain behaviours all at once:

  • Praise
  • References to commentary about you from others named (and many times un-named)
  • Questions about your role on matters settled between you and your boss as though they weren’t

iStock-610965798.jpgIt’s quite likely that this sort of boss is simply manifestly insecure and unsure about decisions recently made. Even if it’s only that, there’s very little good to come with staying around while the behaviour continues. Corporate bullies in positions of ultimate power in their environment are not good for you..

In isolation each of these behaviours may be explainable, but in my experience, put together they paint a very dangerous picture.

Maybe time to move on or get expert assistance.





On the flight to Wellington last week I engaged in a conversation with someone working on the Tintin movies. Turns out I knew more about Tintin than she did, which isn’t surprising as Tintin has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Tintin’s creator Herge, was an insightful and thorough man.

Tintin is responsive, engaging, determined, has vision, loves life and is affronted by evil. He’s a risk taker too and manages up to his much more senior friend Captain Haddock and his policeman friends Thompson and Thomson.

The stories are full of psychopaths – first mate Allan and other drug dealers, slave runners and meglamaniacs who will start a war for commercial profit.

These stories span 1930s to early 1980s and the storylines are still relevant today.

I’m not blogging about Tintin for a leadership reason particularly, but I can’t help but see that there’s lots of what I deal with today in those books I have enjoyed for over 40 years. Maybe that’s not a coincidence!

If you’ve got children you could do a lot worse than to introduce them to Tintin for the art, the stories, the culture and the learnings about the human condition.

I usually avoid the question “who is your most admired leader?” on the basis that this can only lead to a discussion on heroes in leadership which is by and large irrelevant to leaders here and now. But I might go for Tintin next time!