How to spot a ‘bad boss’

An excellent guest post by Adi Gaskell, Content & Communities Manager at CMI, UK. You can view Adi Gaskell’s linkedin profile here and follow him on twitter here.

The movie Bad Bosses is released this week.  Stanford academic Bob Sutton has made a point over the last few years of delving into what it is exactly that makes some bosses so bad.  He first coined the phrase bosshole in his 2007 book The No Asshole Rule.  The online urban dictionary defines a bosshole as:

Bosshole “an employer of a particularly evil nature, completely devoid of empathy or concern for anyone else. the deadly hybrid of boss and asshole.”

In his subsequent book Good Boss, Bad Boss he outlined various ways you can identify a bad boss (or bosshole if you will).  Here is his 10 point checklist

1. Kisses-up and kicks-down: If your boss is sycophantic to his boss, but super tough on those beneath him there’s a strong chance he could be a bosshole.

2. Can’t take it: Dishing out criticism is second nature to this boss, but if ire is turned on him then his skin proves very thin indeed.

3. Short fuse
: Anger is fine now and then, but if it’s a permanent fixture it can quickly breed a culture of fear, which is not a good thing at all.

4. Bad credit: You do the work, they take the credit.  Sound familiar?  This is a common trait of a bosshole.  The best bosses give credit where it’s due and make stars of their team.

5. Canker sore: Your boss decides to participate in your team activities, how do they often turn out?  Is it harmonious or full of conflict?  Talent is no excuse for being a bosshole.

6. Flamer: Email provides an easy channel for venting.  Is your boss a keyboard warrior that uses poor email etiquette to flame others, blind carbon copying to cover his back and other poor email form?

7. Downer: Does your boss make you feel excited and energized about coming into work, or does he fill you with dread when you set off each morning?  Bossholes tend to suck the energy from their team.

8. Card shark: In a knowledge economy, sharing information is a no brainer, but bossholes tend to keep knowledge close to their chest for their personal gain rather than that of their team or their employer.  Co-workers aren’t competitors that you have to defeat to get ahead, but a bosshole will think they are.

9. Army of one: Think back to your school days when you pick out classmates to play on your football team.  The bosshole would be the last pick without doubt because despite their talents people avoid them like the plague.

10. Open architecture: How would the prospective boss respond if a copy of The No Asshole Rule appeared on her desk?” Be careful if the answer is, “Duck!

This is a guest post by Adi Gaskell, editor of The Management Blog for CMI.


One Response to How to spot a ‘bad boss’

  1. Minh Grieser says:

    Touche. Great arguments. Keep up the great spirit.

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