Bosses We Love to Hate
Yeh, PhD and Stephanie Yeh
Boss' Day is coming up October 16. Do you love or hate your boss? Almost all
of us have worked for bosses that we absolutely hate. Here are 7 of the worst
kinds of bosses, along with 5 action steps you can take to get around them.
The Egomaniac: No matter who does the work, this boss takes all the
credit! He doesn't support, coach, nurture or grow his employees. It's all
about him, and your career path is terminal if you work for him. True leaders
know that they need other people to help manifest their dreams-and they
acknowledge other people's efforts freely.
The Liar, Cheat, or Thief: This boss just wants to get whatever he can out
of the company while offering as little as possible. He milks the company
dry if he can (think Enron and Worldcom). One client's boss (a manager at a
major retailer) even taught all of his employees to get as much as they could
out of "they system" by damaging goods so they couldn't be sold, and taking the
goods home. A leader without values is no leader at all. With the advent of
financial disasters such as Enron and Worldcom, values have become more
important than ever.
The Terminal Lifer: Going to work can be hard enough without having to
work for a terminal lifer, a boss who just wants to make it to retirement (or to
the end of the day!). These types of bosses have no vision and don't inspire
any of their employees. A leader's job is to inspire his people with a dream
that makes a real difference in the world.
The Flake: This boss has so many other things going that he can't focus on
the business at hand. Whether its romance, other business deals, or personal
issues, this boss is so low in the commitment department that he drives employee
turnover sky high! One client's boss was so engrossed in the dating scene that
she took all the revenue out of the business to go gambling in Las Vegas with
her new boyfriend. The result? She bounced everyone's paychecks! Leaders need to
be more committed to the organization's vision than anyone else. They need to
become a shining example of the sort of commitment they expect from their
The Fearful Boss: This boss is so afraid of making mistakes that he's
afraid of anything but the status quo-and "change" is a bad word. He might
listen to your ideas, but if they're too radical, he'll be sure to squash them
so he doesn't make a mistake. One of the most important things a leader does is
remove the stigma of mistakes. He knows that bold action sometimes leads to
mistakes, and is willing to take calculated risks.
The Fire Fighter: This boss runs around the office putting out fires but
never gets anything done. The list of hot new ideas you put on his desk a
month ago is buried under paperwork from all the latest crises. This boss
thrives on action and excitement, but doesn't make much actual headway toward
any goals. One of the most important roles in leadership is that of the
visionary. The leader has to be able to see goals that are far into the future,
and lead their people to those goals.
The Angry or Moody Boss: This boss stomps around in a fit of rage or
slumped in deep moodiness all the time. You can't tell whether he's mad at
you, or just hung up on some personal issue. Anything can set him off, so you're
afraid to approach him with any news-good or bad. The greatest leaders in the
world have peace of mind because they are satisfied with the contribution they
are making to their company, the world, and their own lives.
5 Action Steps to Get Around Your Boss
Get another boss either by transferring within your own company or finding a
different job altogether.
Cultivate a relationship with your boss' boss. This gives you an extra
channel for any new, innovative ideas you might have. Be subtle, though, since
this can be a tricky process.
Sign up for extra-curricular tasks within the company that will put you in
contact with bosses from other departments.
If you've got innovative ideas that your boss won't listen to, look for some
other channel, perhaps outside your department, where you can implement your
ideas. Or, suggest a partnership with another department.
Learn what you can where you are. If you can learn something about leadership
and management (even if it's what not to do) where you are now, get all the
experience you can while cultivating a new position for yourself elsewhere.
Sometimes this kind of on-the-job training can give you the experience you need
to move up in your career.
Raymond Yeh, PhD, is a senior research fellow at IC2
Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. He has been a management
consultant to many nations and works with executives of global companies such as
IBM, GTE, AT&T, Siemens, and NEC, as well as with founders of many start-up
companies. Dr. Yeh has published ten technical books and the highly acclaimed
business book titled, "Zero Time: Providing Instant Customer Value-Every Time,
All the Time!" Contact him at
firstname.lastname@example.org and access his work at
Stephanie Yeh has spent many years in the business world
consulting with major corporations around the world, including Fannie Mae, Acer,
Tatung, Children's Hospital of Dallas, and Intergraph on human resource
management, process reengineering, and technology assessment. She has also
coached numerous corporate executives and small business owners on business
strategy and management. Contact her at
access her work at