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The Top 8 Habits of Bad Bosses

I don't think anyone sets out to be a bad boss. But unfortunately, there are a lot of them. If you think back on leaders you’ve had over your career, chances are, that for every ten, you’d probably only want to work for two or three of them again. Why do you think there’s such a gap? Here's my theory:


  • We often promote people who are good individual contributors to management positions as this seems like the reasonable next step for them, but these individuals may not be the best fit for a leadership role. They may not even want to manage people but feel like they should do it in order to advance their careers.

  • We often train new managers in the administrative and technical parts of the job but neglect the leadership and emotional intelligence components.

  • They may not have had a good role model to show them what a good leader looks like.


Habits of Bad Bosses

Last week, we talked about 7 habits of good leaders. In contrast, this week I thought I'd share habits of bad ones. Bad bosses result in disengagement, turnover and lack of productivity which are all costly and negatively impact business results.


Below are the top 8 habits of bad bosses. If you see any of these in yourself (or if you are a leader or HR professional in an organization and see it in your managers), you have some work to do.


#1 Disrespectful to others

Respect is defined as treating someone in a way that shows you care about their well-being and consider them a person of worth. Behaviors that show a lack of respect include being close-minded; not listening; yelling/bullying; treating people inconsistently based on their role or background; taking the credit for the contributions of others; and acting like you are superior.


#2 Lack of humility

Leadership is not about you; it is about the people you lead. Have you ever worked with or for a leader with a big ego? Egocentric leaders are easy to spot, and employees quickly pick up on the fact that they put themselves over others.

Your ego is not your amigo

#3 Break promises

Nobody likes a manager (or any person for that matter) that breaks their promises. If you make a commitment, keep it. If for some reason, you can't follow through, let the other person know why and apologize.


#4 Have unrealistic/unclear expectations

Communicating clear expectations is one of the key roles of a manager. If your staff doesn't know what's expected, they are not likely to do what you want and need them to-and are likely to get very frustrated.

Clear is kind, unclear is unkind...Brene Brown

#5 Play favorites

Have you ever had a boss that clearly had their pets and hired and promoted from the good old' boys'/peoples' club? If so, it likely didn't go over very well with everyone else.


#6 Are overly critical

Bosses that are overly critical share constructive feedback that doesn't come from a place of caring and concern-and rarely balance that with any positive reinforcement. This leaves employees feeling deflated and demotivated.


#7 Micromanage

"Please micromanage me", said no employee ever. Micromanaging communicates that message that you don't trust the employee. In turn, they aren't likely to trust you. Plus, most employees want to feel like they have some autonomy to create and control the work that they do. Micromanaging undermines that need.


#8 Don't listen
Leaders who don't listen are likely to be surrounded by people with nothing to say...Andy Stanley

When employees don't feel that their leader listens or cares about their thoughts/opinions, they will shut down.


What You Can Do

If you see any of these behaviors in your personal leadership, work on it! If you are a Senior Leader or HR professional and see these behaviors in your organization, work to develop your managers. If you attempt to develop them and there isn't improvement, it may be time to make difficult decisions.


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