7 Signs of an Unhealthy Boss


I’ve had some great bosses. I’ve also had some really unhealthy bosses. If you work for the same person very long, you’ll find sometimes they are very healthy, and other seasons when they are stressed and unhealthy. I’m sure the same could be said of me.

But you might also have worked for a boss who is perpetually unhealthy. There is something about the way they lead that is damaging to those around them…and when you take time to think about it, you know it is also damaging to you. Sometimes working for an unhealthy boss is what you need to do for a season to get you from one thing to the next. But if you do that very long, it will have a lasting impact on your life.

 I’m sure this list is not exhaustive, but here are seven signs of an unhealthy boss.

  1. Insecure – needs constant affirmation. Takes credit for others work. Doesn’t value the accomplishment of others. Has a difficult time with a team member who is more talented than he or she is in a certain area.

  2. Unaware – clueless to the toxicity that he or she is causing. Not tuned in to a dysfunctional culture that exists in the organization.

  3. Proud – constantly recounting his or her own successes from the past. Loves every idea as long as they thought of it. Diminishes others and elevates self.

  4. Manipulative – uses the force of his or her personality to get others to do what they don’t want to do. Twists stories to their own advantage.

  5. Abusive – with harsh language, angry outbursts, or knowingly playing with the emotions of those around him or her, can cause damage to the soul and psyche of those he or she leads.

  6. Bad listener – talks way more than he or she listens. Asks very few questions because they already know the answers.

  7. Doesn’t like disagreement – gets very upset if they are challenged in public. Encourages you to challenge them in private but doesn’t accept it then either.

Life is too short to work for very long for a boss who is toxic, demeaning, and dis-empowering to those they lead. If you are in that situation, begin looking elsewhere. A good book to read to help give you the courage to move on is Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud.

What else would you add to my list?

Tim Stevens2 Comments