I work in the financial industry for a medium sized company and I am the team lead of 15 members. I have a very good relationship with my Boss, Tim. We work together great and we are friends as well.

I had expressed a desire to be moved to another project because it sparked my interest. The company allowed me to do so.

Today, Tim came to me and had a chat with me before I move to the new project. He basically told me that I should be cautious of Nick (the other Boss, a bit higher on the totem pole). Officially, Nick is in charge of the money, Tim is in charge of operating the business.

Tim was relatively vague about "why", but says that Nick and him are in a serious war in regards to the direction of the entire company. To me, this statement came out of no where, and makes me think that this is not something that will easily get fixed.

Tim warns me that Nick will try to ask many questions of me in order to get answers about how everything runs operationally, and so they won't need him (Tim) anymore. Technically Nick can get rid of Tim.

Before leaving work, Nick did in fact email me asking for a sit down to run over the new project, which is extremely weird because he basically only handles the money of the business.

This puts me in a very weird situation and I really don't know what to do. I really like my Boss Tim, but Nick could fire us both if he wanted to.

How do I 'ride out' this war between the two of them without damaging my position in the company? I don't want to be involved but I think Nick and Tim both consider me a valuable asset to have on their side so I'm not sure that's an option. I also don't want to lose my job.


EDIT: Tim used the words "all out war" to describe the situation between Nick and him. This leads me to think something is going on behind the scenes.

  • 1
    I've made a few minor edits, I hope I didn't miss the mark anywhere. If I did, feel free to revert.
    – Cronax
    Jun 7, 2018 at 11:54

2 Answers 2


Disagreements between senior leaders on how to run the business happen all the time. At least, Tim is transparent that he and Nick are not seeing eye-to-eye, but war is pretty strong phasing if it were truly is a simple disagreement. This is likely to be very serious where one of them will leave or be ousted if not resolved.

My advice is to not get involved, especially if they force you to pick a side. Focus on doing your job well and elevating the work of your team.

It wouldn't hurt to polish up the old resume in case things get really bad though.

  • Thanks, normally I would agree with you and try to call it a war, but, that's how it was phrased to me. If Tim has said "we are in a big argument" it would have been different
    – pm1391
    Jun 7, 2018 at 4:35
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    Yes I agree with you. The war phasing used by Tim suggests there are probably big problems between him and Nick. It's likely one of them will leave or be ousted if not resolved. I still recommend not getting involved.
    – jcmack
    Jun 7, 2018 at 4:50
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    While your advice is fine in the abstract, odds are the OP is by default already viewed as being on Tim's side of the "war", because Tim is their line manager and friend. (Always a dangerous combo, but that's another Q&A.) Jun 7, 2018 at 12:59
  • Looks like a power struggle, if you do like shows like GoT or Vikings you are the helpless unamed peasant in the middle of a massacre. Don't take sides cannot be enough stressed here. If anyone arrange a meting go and answer things you are sure only. There's not a problem to asnwer: "I don't know/I'm not sure, maybe you can ask someone above me"
    – jean
    Jun 7, 2018 at 13:07
  • Having been in a position like this before, I wouldn't be surprised if Tim is worried that Nick will start grooming OP to replace him (Tim). This could end in a really messy way though, which is why not getting involved is the best option.
    – jcmack
    Jun 7, 2018 at 17:20

First, a clarification- in the new project, will you still be working in Operations, under Tim, or in Finance, under Nick?

One of the sad, sad truths about power is there's generally two reasons people want positions of power; they want to help people, or they want to help themselves. Either way the position will help them do it. Unfortunately, narcissists and psychopaths are very good at manipulating other people, and telling them what they want to hear, so they're very good at getting into positions of power. And once there, it's very hard to get them out. Read 'Snakes in Suits' or 'Without Conscience,' both by Robert Hare. Psychopaths can tell you "black is white," and have you doubting your own sanity as you struggle to say, "No, black is not white." Psychopaths can lie better than most people tell the truth. Catching them in lies (NOT confronting them!!) is how you recognize them so you can protect yourself.

In any case.. You've worked closely with Tim, and gotten to know he's an honorable, moral person. You have trusted him and feel you can trust him again. He's 'got your back.' You haven't had any direct dealings with Nick, but Tim has. If that's all true....

Tim has given you a signal compliment and made a significant investment in your career. He's telling you that you need to protect yourself dealing with Nick, at substantial risk to himself. You need to respect that, and be very cautious dealing with Nick. It's not only cowardly, but unwise to not oppose psychopaths, because if you don't, they'll grab more power, run the company under, and you'll be out of a job. Nick already has a lot of power, and you correctly intuit he's dangerous.

Did you ever feel that way about Tim? "Trust your feelings, Luke!"

So you want to be circumspect and careful with Nick. Talk with other people in the company you know and TRUST, with reason. Protect yourself, and consider whether what he's telling you is true. If he's telling you stuff that's not right...well, there you go. Protect yourself, protect yourself, protect yourself.

  • -1: While I agree that it is important to protect yourself, I believe it is too early, and there is not enough information in the OP, to definitively call Nick a psychopath or narcissist. It's also possible Tim is the one at fault here; for example, Tim pissed Nick off by doing something he really should not have done, Nick called him out on it, and now Tim is scrambling to get support rather than simply apologizing or trying to undo the damage he did. Anyway, there's nowhere close to enough information here to be throwing around inflammatory statements like "psychopath".
    – Ertai87
    Sep 21, 2018 at 15:39
  • Note, I'm NOT calling Nick a psychopath. I am warning OP that such exist, and it's the most dangerous situation he might have to deal with.
    – VWFeature
    Jan 3, 2019 at 23:50
  • Can only edit for 5 min-eh Note, @Ertai87 I'm NOT calling Nick a psychopath. I am warning OP that such exist, and it's the most dangerous situation he might have to deal with. Sort of like warning a neophyte not to look for a gas leak with an open flame, or any other potentially catastrophic behavior. And unfortunately, it's not inflammatory. Psychopaths and narcissists are deadly dangers to businesses, because they actively seek power over others, they're exactly the people you don't want having it, and they're pretty common.
    – VWFeature
    Jan 3, 2019 at 23:57

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