The Worst Boss: 10 Surefire Signs You’re Working For One (Or Are You One?)

We’ve all had our share of shitty bosses.


I’ll never forget one of mine. 15 years later and I still vividly recall the experience.  He presented a charming façade during meetings – respectful, courteous and solution-oriented. But behind closed doors, he was a different animal – verbally abusive, passive-aggressive and demanding that everything be done his way.


But my time working under him, albeit challenging, was an invaluable lesson in bad leadership traits and what good leadership isn’t.


With that said… here are 10 warning signs you might be working for a bad boss (or you might be turning into one yourself):


1.     Mysterious Visionary – Bad bosses keep their visions hidden away like a well-kept secret. They’ll chase shiny objects without providing their team with a clear sense of direction, leaving everyone in a perpetual state of flux.

2.     Emotionally Unaware – These bosses may be experts in their field, but they often exhibit an alarming lack of emotional intelligence. They’re unable to discern the emotional pulse of their employees or their overall team, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and discomfort.

3.     The Micro-Maniac – Bad bosses are notorious for either never delegating, handing over tasks without a hint of guidance or micro-managing the hell out of every twist and turn. This approach breeds inaccuracy, dependency, chaos and a whole lotta stress that stifles team autonomy.

4.     Fickle Expectations – Expectations under such leadership are often frustratingly ambiguous. They fluctuate between excessive leniency and overbearing control, leaving employees perplexed about what’s truly expected of them. You either feel lost or like you have to walk on eggshells.

5.     The Gratitude Gap – Bad bosses have no clue about the magic of a simple “thank you”. They either withhold praise or dispense it so robotically that it’s about as exciting as watching paint dry.

6.     Feedback Fails – Feedback from these bosses is the kind you wish you could un-hear. It’s vague, lacks examples and is delivered carelessly, making it more demoralizing than enlightening. Or, it’s just a venting session of everything you’re doing wrong.

7.     Talking More Than Listening – A bad boss may hold listening sessions or claim to have an open-door policy, but they often use these opportunities to speak rather than truly listen. They prefer to assert their opinions, school their employees, or dismiss ideas rather than lending a receptive ear.

8.     Phony Integrity – They’re pros at saying one thing and doing another, claiming to be inclusive while shutting down ideas and prioritizing favorites.

9.     One-Size-Fits-None – Return-to-work policies, recognition, or feedback – bad bosses think one size fits all, assuming what works for them will work for everyone. Neglecting the unique needs of team members leads to disillusionment and a lack of motivation and engagement.

10.  Failure Of Communication – They either overshare or under share, vacillating between information overload and scarcity of pertinent details, causing confusion and inefficiency, leaving employees focused on trying to decipher the essential information.


Employees don’t leave companies. They leave their bosses. Whether you’re supporting one of these bosses or leading a team yourself, it’s never too late to grow or change. Recognizing these pitfalls and steering clear of them will save you so much time and energy.


You’re not stuck working for a bad boss. Don’t become one either.

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