In a recent consulting assignment, we were discussing the characteristics of effective managers. To stimulate discussion and inject more passion and feelings into the deliberations, I turned the question on its head.

I asked the group: What, in your experience, are the characteristics of Bad Bosses?

Simultaneously, I made out my own list. Here is my list of 7 characteristics of Bad Bosses:

  1. Quick to blame others: At the first sign of something going wrong, they look for a scapegoat. Their first priority is to protect themselves. Blame is spread over team members, customers, suppliers, well -almost anybody other than themselves.
  2. Quick to hog credit: Instead of sharing credit, they present information in such a way to suggest that they have been responsible for every success. They bask in the glory though the real work has been done by others.
  3. Unwilling to decide, procrastinate: Really tough to get a decision from them, mainly because they spend huge amounts of time and effort in playing their cards as described above. If they get blamed for the delay, the blame is passed on to others. They would rather use the passage of time to solve problems rather than act vigorously and pro actively to resolve them.
  4. Dump rather then delegate: Under the guise of delegation, low priority or the most difficult work tasks are dumped on their team members. The more visible and glamorous parts of the task are kept to themselves. Dumping takes many forms including passing on tasks without adequate briefing about its importance or priority.
  5. Not worthy of trust: Simply stated, they cannot be trusted. They ask for information, opinions and views, which they then retail depending on the perceived value of the idea. Problems shared are not kept confidential and they lose no time in passing them on as pieces of gossip .
  6. Add no value to their team: Team members do not get the value addition they look up to in a boss. Due to a lack of competence, they are not able to solve issues raised by team members, not able to offer alternates and not able to guide them in times of difficulty.
  7. Poor role model: They don’t walk the talk. They say the organization values some trait but behave in ways totally contrary to stated values. They exhort others to follow norms of behaviour that they don’t follow themselves. They have one rule for themselves and a quite different other for team members.



Hopefully, you don’t have to deal with such bosses, but it takes all types to make the world. More importantly, ask yourself: Do I have any of these characteristics? If yes, get rid of them. Fast.


It would be nice to hear your views/comments.

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This is the 78 th of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.