7 Types of Bad Bosses: How to Avoid Being One

 In Coaching, Leadership Development, Organizational Change, Rick Conlow

Have you worked for a boss you really didn’t like? What kinds of behaviors or characteristics did this person possess? Were you excited about your job? Did you routinely go the extra mile and find ways to add value in your job? Probably not. Poor bosses sap the spirit right out of their employees and cost their companies billions of dollars. Over 50% of managers fail today according to management derailment studies. They fail primarily because of a lack of people skills. These areas were reviewed in the post: 7 Habits of Bad Bosses.

Here are seven categories of bad bosses. You will recognize some of these examples:

The Dictator: The president of a food company habitually yelled and swore at people to get them to do things. He intimidated people into doing what he wanted. It was “his way or the highway,” as the saying goes. Not surprisingly, he had huge employee turnover issues, and he was fired within two years.

The Criticizer: An operations manager at a computer-consulting company typically interrupted her managers’ meetings many times to criticize their decision-making in front of their employees while rapping her bracelets on the conference table. Morale was poor and creativity low. The place was in a constant state of chaos.

The Liar: A sales executive routinely lied to other department managers about customer issues and, of course, denied it. He often wondered out loud about the lack of teamwork in the company. Departments were always at each others’ throats.

The Harasser: In a medical clinic, the general manager flirted openly with and groped female employees with impunity. Employee attitudes were poor, and turnover was high.

The Bully: In the retail industry, a manager had this philosophy, “Keep whipping them until the blood runs dry.” He constantly browbeat people and put them at odds with one another.

The Micromanager: This manager couldn’t delegate-she had her hands in everything. The employees resented it, and felt they were being treated like children. Poor attitudes prevailed.

Mr. Nice Guy: In another company, the manager was a good listener and nice person, but he didn’t make decisions. Problems festered and weren’t resolved. Results were mediocre. He was liked, but few people respected him.

How do you avoid falling into to one or more of these categories as a bad boss? You have to learn from the bad bosses about what not to do. Also, emulate those people who are great bosses. Most importantly keep learning. Seek feedback from others, get a coach, attend seminars, read books and enroll in leadership Webinars. How do you know if you are effective as a boss? Think of these questions:

  • What kind of feedback do you receive from others?
  • Do you have little turnover?
  • Does you team get along?
  • Is your team consistently productive?
  • Are you serving your customers well?
  • Are you exceeding your goals?
  • Are employees excited and positive about their jobs?
  • Are you excited and positive about your job?

You have to be willing to do an honest self-evaluation about your leadership practices and effectiveness. If you leverage your strengths and work on your weaknesses you can avoid these bad boss stereotypes. Over time you can become a good boss if not a superstar leader.


By the way, do you want to learn more about proven approaches to coaching and increasing employee engagement? If so, I suggest you check out this complimentary eBook: How to Motivate-No-Inspire Employees: 10 Keys to Employee Engagement.

Or, are you going through change at work and need to coach your team through it? Then, check out this complimentary eBook: Changing Change Management.

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