Do you have a controlling boss or do you have a boss that cares? It’s good to have a boss who cares—a boss who seems invested not just in your day to day performance, but in your career development, too.

It’s not so great to have a boss who tries to control you, reshaping your career to match their ideal.

Sometimes the difference is a fuzzy one, but I want to offer a few warning signs—red flags that suggest maybe your boss falls on the wrong side of that line.

Signs Your Boss is Too Controlling

Your boss praises you, but only on their own terms.

A boss who is legitimately invested in your career development will be generous with praise and affirmation. A controlling boss will be much stingier and restrictive, praising you only when it makes them look good, too. Also, a boss who cares will talk you up even to other employers or recruiters; a controlling boss won’t be so willing, and may even try to sabotage your reputation if they feel you’re about to jump ship.

Your boss limits your educational opportunities.

This one’s pretty simple: A good boss will ask you about the ways you want to develop, and present you with the right opportunities. A controller will only allow for professional development opportunities that they want you to have, regardless of whether you want it or not.

Your boss micromanages.

A real leader provides team members with autonomy. A controlling boss will carefully regulate your workload and expect you to check in regularly. They’ll constantly be looking over your shoulder. They won’t leave you any room to take on more responsibility or to show any kind of initiative.

Your boss discourages you.

Hopefully you have a boss who encourages you to always be growing, developing, and reaching for bigger and better things. A controlling boss won’t do any of that. In fact, a controlling boss will try to tell you you’re not good enough or that you’re getting too big for your britches.

What to Do About a Controlling Boss?

The first step you should take toward addressing a controlling boss is simply acknowledging it. Be clear with yourself about how your boss is controlling you. Then, I’d honestly recommend confronting them about it, ideally in a neutral environment somewhere.

I’d love to talk with you more about how to do that and what to say. Reach out to me today with any career coaching needs you may have. You can contact Dr. Rick at or call 888-267-6098.