39 Traits of a Bad Boss

The Officially Bad Boss

All of us have some negative qualities, make mistakes, and mess up. After all, “We’re only human.”

But bad managers seem to collect these traits faster than a hoarder fills a house.  If you are working for someone and find yourself nodding vigorously as you read this list, you officially have a bad boss.

What traits would you add to the list?

  1. Self-centered

Everything is about him. Not the organizational goals, but his bonus. Not about the team, but about his individual performance. “How I look” is more important than anything else.



  1. Steals credit

You work all night to get it done. Instead of praising you, you find your name removed and her name prominently at the top. She basks in the light of your success and barely acknowledges your contribution.



  1. Bullies

Threats and intimidation mark the way he manages. You are not asked; you are bullied.

  1. Poor self-awareness

What seems obvious to everyone else, she misses. Her effect on people is something that she completely misses. She never comes back and apologizes or corrects a misunderstanding because she is just not aware of her impact.

  1. Manages up

Sure, everyone needs to manage up. But, he does it exclusively. His boss loves him. Everyone else sees that he sucks up so much that he has little time for anything else.

  1. Always right

You are frequently wrong, but she never is. She can never admit a mistake because it would threaten her self-esteem.



  1. Poor communicator

Information is withheld. Few understand what he means. More time is spent trying to decode the little communication that happens than actually listening to the message.



  1. Unable to get the best from people

People may stay in the job, but they are not motivated. No one tries to do more than the minimum.

  1. Micromanages

She dictates every last detail. There is no room for creativity or deviation from the plan. You are to execute orders and report back. Constantly.

  1. Missing in action

He is never around when you need him to make a decision or weigh in.

  1. Never praises or encourages

If you read a positive word on your performance review, your heart would stop so long you would need a doctor. You never hear a single positive word.



  1. Wants only praise and good news

You have a problem, but he will not listen. You lost an account, but you cannot bring it up. Problems must be hidden. Only good news is shared because he cannot seem to handle anything more.

  1. Disingenuous

He may praise you, but he doesn’t mean it. His body language betrays his real emotion.

  1. Lacks personal accountability

She blames everyone else. She requires everyone else to meet the goal.

  1. Creates a culture of distrust and fear

You constantly worry about losing your job. Politics is more important than performance. Your friends may really be enemies.

  1. Only focused on work

He talks business, all the time. Bring up a family issue and he is uncomfortable and shifts the conversation back to the bottom line. You don’t know if he even has a life outside of the office.

  1. Unrealistic

Goals are unattainable and everyone knows it. If you question anything, you are told that you lack imagination and have a bad attitude.



  1. Unable to make a decision

She is paralyzed. She always needs to further analyze.

  1. Poor listening skills

Whatever you say, he hears what he wants to hear. He interrupts constantly, is always looking elsewhere, and he miscommunicates what you told him.



  1. Second guesses

Whatever you do, she is always looking over your shoulder and second guessing every decision.

  1. Keeps people around who suck up and yet don’t perform

Everyone knows that someone needs to go, but that person is firmly ensconced in his position because of his ability to suck up. The boss loves the adulation so much that the subordinate’s job is secure.

  1. Over delegation

You wonder what she does personally since everything is pushed off her desk. She doesn’t even check others’ work.

  1. Under delegation

He plays a martyr, always overworked. He never entrusts others to get the job done.

  1. Makes all decisions

She makes every decision in an autocratic style, never allowing adequate input or group discussion.

  1. Tells you what to do

Instead of convincing and selling his ideas, he issues them like edicts.



  1. Deceptive

You catch him in a web of lies. You leave every meeting thinking about the real intention.

  1. Overly critical

You can do nothing right. She is always sitting with a red pen, ready to mark up your life.

  1. Doesn’t understand people’s skills and talents

He doesn’t know the team well enough to know who is good at what. He assigns people tasks that do not fit their capabilities.

  1. Thinks only about short-term results

It’s today and this quarter that concern her. Anything beyond that is too far in the future.



  1. Show no loyalty, respect or appreciation

Loyalty is a one-way highway from you to him. There is no reciprocal loyalty. You feel like you could be sold down the river at any minute.

  1. Lacks integrity

She may say one thing, but does another. She breaks the rules as necessary for her own purpose.

  1. Manipulative

He is constantly scheming and manipulating others for a grand purpose. The focus is on the game rather than on the customer.

  1. Domineering

You are unable to get a word in, share an opinion, or offer counsel because her presence takes over.



  1. Manages through fear

He fired someone just to show who is in control. He wields power over you to let you know that you could be next.

  1. Sense of entitlement

She doesn’t follow the rules because she is entitled to do whatever she wants. “Others are here to serve me” could be a plaque on her office wall.

  1. Arrogant

He recites his achievements. Every communication is basically a press release of his greatness.



  1. Vindictive

If you ever cross or disagree with her, you better watch your back. You have seen what she does to enemies.

  1. Inconsiderate

You are embarrassed in public. Meetings are used for public humiliation. Your feelings are never considered important.

  1. Weak

He says that he will argue for something, but you know he will lose. His weakness to advocate for the team damages the reputation of the group.


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