How to Spot a Toxic Boss

Ten signs, and why you can’t change them.

1. A boss that makes everyone beg to do his job.

It’s one thing to take on extra duties if you’re asked to. Something else when you take them on simply because your boss doesn’t understand his own job. That’s effort you’ll never be rewarded for.

2. A boss who gaslights you.

You voice discontent. And he responds with dismay. He’s confused about what you’re trying to accomplish here.

3. A boss who manipulates you with praise.

You’re doing a fantastic job. What a rock star. But he doesn’t believe that. If he did, he’d treat you like one. Pay you like one.

4. A boss who says “yes” when he means “no.”

The boss loves your idea. You should write up a proposal. So you do. It takes up most of your week.

5. A boss who likes shiny things too much.

Medals. Plaques. Trophies. He loves award banquets more than anything. And you get an award. And you get an award…

6. A boss who always puts himself first.

Funny how all the things your boss wants can magically happen within 24 hours. Like the time he emptied the budget to build a glorified man cave, and called it a media hub.

7. A boss who talks tough to the wrong people.

It’s easy to take a hard line with a reasonable person. We don’t especially enjoy conflict. We do our best to accommodate others. We compromise. Settle. Put our own needs last.

8. A boss who unveils buzzwords at retreats.

This is his moment. His special day. He’s going to prove to everyone why he’s in charge. And you get…coffee and a cinnamon bun.

9. A boss who wants to be a cult leader.

He doesn’t want a staff. More like an entourage. Followers. People to make him feel important. People to laugh at his jokes. To marvel at his career. To love his stories.

10. A boss who doesn’t want equals.

You’ve tried to get along with your boss. Give them the benefit of a doubt. Second and third chances. To see their side.

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