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Working with an Egotistical Leader

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May 13, 2024
CEO, Founder & Executive Coach
4 min read
Navigating an egotistical leader involves effective communication, setting boundaries, leveraging strengths, building support networks, and focusing on personal growth.

Working with an Egotistical Leader

In the modern workplace, encountering an egotistical leader can be both a challenge and a learning opportunity.

An egotistical leader typically displays excessive confidence and self-importance, often overshadowing their team's contributions and focusing heavily on their personal achievements. This behaviour can create a complex environment for employees, impacting team morale and productivity.

In this article I explore strategies for effectively working with an egotistical leader, maintaining professional growth, and ensuring that the team's goals are met.

Understanding Egotistical Leadership

Egotistical leaders often possess charismatic and dynamic qualities that can initially appear as strong leadership. However, their self-centred approach can lead to issues such as poor communication, lack of empathy, and decision-making that prioritise personal glory over team success.

Understanding the mindset of an egotistical leader is the first step in developing strategies to work effectively under their leadership. Recognising their need for admiration and fear of showing vulnerability can provide insights into their actions and decisions.

Communication Strategies

Effective communication is crucial when dealing with an egotistical leader. Since these leaders often seek validation, framing ideas in a way that aligns with their goals and perspectives can lead to better receptiveness.

When presenting ideas, emphasise how these suggestions can enhance the leader’s vision and bring positive recognition to their leadership. Additionally, being clear and assertive in communication while avoiding direct confrontation can prevent potential conflicts.

  1. Use Affirming Language: Start conversations by acknowledging the leader’s perspective or previous successes.
  2. Be Constructive: Provide feedback that is constructive and subtly introduces new ideas without directly challenging the leader's authority.

Setting Boundaries

Working with an egotistical leader may sometimes mean dealing with unrealistic expectations or demands. Setting professional boundaries is essential to maintaining one's mental health and job satisfaction. Employees should clearly define what is acceptable and what is not in their professional interactions, and they should communicate these boundaries respectfully but firmly to the leader.

Leveraging Their Strengths

Despite the challenges, egotistical leaders often have strengths such as decisiveness, ambition, and the ability to inspire action. Recognising and leveraging these strengths can be beneficial. For example, their competitive nature can be channelled towards achieving team goals rather than personal accolades. Employees can align their projects and initiatives with the leader’s interests and strengths, thereby gaining support and fostering a more cooperative environment.

Building Support Networks

Building a strong support network within the workplace is vital. Connecting with colleagues who share similar experiences can provide emotional support and practical advice on handling difficult situations. Furthermore, a collective approach can sometimes influence an egotistical leader more effectively than isolated efforts. This network can also serve as a buffer and a source of validation that the individual’s experiences are shared and understood.

Focusing on Personal Growth

Working under an egotistical leader can inadvertently lead to personal growth opportunities. These situations can teach valuable skills such as resilience, patience, and strategic communication. Employees should focus on their professional development by seeking feedback from other sources, setting personal goals, and pursuing opportunities for skills enhancement outside the immediate influence of their leader.

When to Seek Change

Recognising when the situation is untenable is crucial. If a leader's egotistical behaviour causes severe stress, hampers personal growth, or violates ethical standards, it may be time to consider changing teams or even employers. Personal well-being and career development should always be a priority.


Working with an egotistical leader presents unique challenges that require a strategic approach. By understanding the leader’s behaviour, employing effective communication techniques, setting boundaries, leveraging their strengths, building support networks, and focusing on personal development, employees can navigate these tricky waters.

Remember, it’s important to evaluate continuously if the situation is conducive to personal and professional growth and to make empowered decisions about when it might be time to seek new opportunities. This approach not only helps in coping with the situation but also contributes significantly to one’s career trajectory and personal well-being in the long run.