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Let’s face it, we’ve all heard stories from our friends, family, and co-workers about their experiences with bad bosses.

Some of us have worked for bosses who made us hate our jobs as well. There even exists a highly popular – and amusingly exaggerated – comedy movie franchise to help millions relate to the miserable situation of working for “Horrible Bosses”.

Here, the term “bad boss” does not refer to a leader who is unable to contribute to the bottom line. Rather, it denotes a leader whose actions spoil any good faith they may have created for themselves and their organization.

There are many signs of a bad boss, therefore there is no consensus on what makes a leader a bad boss. That means, there is a possibility for any leader to develop a vicious combination of habits or behaviors that can make their employees not want to get out of bed in the morning at all.

People who work for bad bosses frequently experience negative emotions like stress, despair, and anger throughout their working day.

Many such employees are demotivated from giving their full effort to the job. They are often eventually forced to rethink their career path. A bad boss can even be the cause of the onset of mental illnesses like depression in some people.

I frequently discuss the qualities of great leaders that are inspirational and worth emulating. But it is equally important to recognize the toxic traits that results in poor leadership and a demotivated team.

Here I’ve put together a list of 5 traits most commonly found in problematic bosses, which should best be avoided by a leader who wishes to pursue greatness.

1. Criticizes and Humiliates Employees in Public

If an employee makes a mistake, bad bosses are likely to scold them in front of other employees, often using insulting words and harsh tone. No one likes to be publicly humiliated – it often leads to low morale in the workplace and creates a turnover.

In other words, bad bosses make their employees feel disrespected and underappreciated. They may feel as though this treatment is a good enough reason to look for other opportunities.

A tactful leader would avoid public put-downs and refrain from openly criticizing anyone in front of the team. Instead, they would address the situation by pulling the person aside to have a private discussion regarding the issue.

2. Takes Credit for Employees’ Work

This particular action really irritates and frustrates employees, particularly older team members. Every employee wants to be recognized and appreciated, and they want to be challenged with the responsibility of other bigger goals. When their boss is likely to take credit for their work accomplishments or allow someone else to steal it from them, they lose all motivation to work this hard again.

Moreover, a bad boss feels the need to remind his staff that they’re in charge, and they are better and more important than their team. It’s the typical approach; “I’m the boss and you’re not!” that stems from the boss feeling the need to put others down. Good leaders are secure in their position and don’t need this kind of validation. They want to see their team members succeed and are happy to share the limelight.

3. Micromanages

Poor leaders see micromanaging as the only way to accomplish a task because they do not value the input of their employees or trust their employees to complete the task themselves. Unless a task is completed exactly as the manager sees fit, they won’t recognize a job well done (even if completing the task in another manner achieves an even more positive outcome).

This constant daily nit-picking really brings down motivation, because it makes employees feel as though their efforts are worthless. A good leader chooses to give their team personal independence and freedom to work. They hire a team they trust to get the job done and give them the independence to complete tasks using their own creativity and strengths.

4. Plays Favourites

A particularly toxic habit of some bosses is picking out certain members of the team as their favorites, and giving them special treatment. Managers might find is easier to relate to particular team members if they share similarities. What makes it worse is when bosses give special treatment to tattletales and brownnosers, thereby indirectly discouraging this behavior in the workplace to boot.

Favoritism can result in the manager valuing these employees’ work and opinions more and giving them more assistance than to other team members. This is where it crosses the line.

Other employees are quick to pick up on their boss playing favorites, and this is a quick recipe for discouragement and disengagement. Favoritism makes other team members’ hard work go unnoticed and leads to a general feeling of frustration with the company dynamics.

5. Doesn’t Lead by Example

A boss who gives a long speech about need their team members to work longer hours without overtime pay, and then heads out the office early, is unlikely to inspire hard work and dedication in their team.

As a boss, you will always have all eyes on you, especially during critical moments such as this when your team looks to you for direction and learns from your conduct. Asking your team to behave in one way while you are behaving in another, is unlikely to lead to fruitful results.

One of the irrefutable signs of a good leader is that when the going gets tough, they pitch in with the grunt work as one of the team and show up to lead their team. A great manager not only requires excellence from their staff, but also strives to produce excellent results in their own work.

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