Sales and Marketing professionals can have a unique challenge in terms of bosses who started "in the trenches". All too often, a lot of the same traits that makes someone successful in sales or entrepreneurship, also matches those of a predator. I have personally experienced working for great salespeople and managers who were also predators. Luckily, today, I am out of that phase, but I live to tell the tale!
According to FBI Profiler's book Dangerous Personalities by Joe Navarro, there are several key traits that define a predator. In fact, his book lists 150 of them. I will condense this list down to 3 tell-tale signs that you are dealing with a predator, using traits that are similar to, but slightly different from, someone who is successful in sales, marketing or management. Then, let's take a look at what you can do about it!
Both great sales people and predators will use the power of persuasion. Well-meaning managers and owners of companies may then mistakenly promote someone who is actually a predator. Here are some traits on the "Dangerous Personalities" checklist:
- Recognizes the weaknesses in others quickly and seeks to exploit their weaknesses.
- Habitually tries to dominate others - control and dominance play a big role in this person's life.
- Schemes and plans to take advantage of others.
Sales vs. Predator: A great salesperson or manager will create win-win situations. A predator will be about win-lose - win for them, and lose for others. While people can bumble and make mistakes where things do not turn out for the best, for the predator, it is consistent.
Using emotional intelligence to identify who is likely to buy, and then getting them to move through the steps of the process is a big part of sales and management. Unfortunately, predators know how to prey on the weak and get what they want. According to Navarro's list:
- Is skilled at gaining the trust of others for the sake of taking advantage of them.
- Is manipulative and all too often gets people to do things for her.
- Disregards the rights of others by abusing them or taking advantage of them.
Manager vs. Predator: A great manager or salesperson will surround themselves with people who enjoy their company and respect them. A predator will have people around them who hate them or are uneasy. Next time you are in a meeting, look at the body language of the people around them - are they open or closed? Are people afraid or open?
Like a beautiful well-ironed shirt is part of a great manager's wardrobe, looking good is also something that draws people to the predator personality. The book lists these traits:
- Doesn't take criticism well - lashes out at others with anger, rage and threats of revenge.
- Is at times callous and cold, while at other times charming and seductive.
- Is haughty and opinionated and often comes across as arrogant - some think he is a "legend in his own mind"
Management vs. Predator: While your great manager will look good, they will take criticism and will not lash out at others. Real leaders know how to "fail upwards" and will have the ability to laugh at their own expense. A predator on the other hand, will become angry and inflict pain on others when they feel criticized.
4 Actionable Tips for Handing a Predapreneur
Move: You cannot change a toxic person - so rather than suffering, if possible, try to change departments or change jobs. Part of this advice is accepting what you can and cannot do in the face of a toxic - you cannot change them, and they certainly won't help you grow. Their goal is to dominate others.
Don't Take their Advice: I have personally heard the advice "you care too much" - where the boss was encouraging me to be more callous towards others. If you have not succeeded in moving, you should definitely not take their advice or be more like them (even though they may enjoy giving that advice!)
Flattery: With toxic bosses, flattery will get you a long way - especially if you do it in front of others. Though it may be difficult to do it with a straight face,
Friends in High Places: If you can, make friends with some of of the other senior people in the office, or of people in your industry. This way, if the boss ends up "lashing out" at you, you will have allies.
Ready to explore dangerous personalities further? Buy the book by clicking the below!
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