The 7 Types of Bosses You’ll Meet (and How to Deal with Them)
These are seven of the most common types of bosses you'll meet on the job.
By Samuel Edwards (Inc.com)
Throughout the course of your professional career, whether you're climbing the corporate ladder in some multinational business or you're working for a small nonprofit organization, you're going to encounter a number of different types of bosses. Each of them will have their own quirks, their own processes, and their own mentalities, and if you want to survive, you're going to need to learn how to deal with all of them.
These are seven of the most common types of bosses you'll meet:
1. The hands-off boss.
The hands-off boss takes pride in giving his workers freedom and flexibility--maybe a little too much so. He won't interfere with your projects, but at the same time, he may give you limited direction with which to start. He believes that all workers will do their best with minimal interference, which is at once empowering and bewildering. If you end up working for this boss, know that communication is going to be key; if you need help, you're going to have to ask for it. If something's unclear, you'll need to voice your opinion. Otherwise, you'll be left on your own to deal with it.
2. The power tripper.
The power tripper may fall into any one of a number of categories. She may be desperate to climb the corporate ladder and only focused on how work makes her appear in the eyes of her superiors. She may be narcissistic or self-centered. She may also just like the feeling of having power over others. In any case, she's domineering and inflexible, and may impose strict rules and deadlines upon you. This is a challenging position for many, but you can deal with it by making compromises where you can, and communicating openly about how this style affects your working ability.
3. The micromanager.
The micromanager is a tough one for anyone to deal with for anybody. He likes to dig into the details, stepping on your toes on occasion by telling you what to do and how to do it, sometimes for what seems like every minute of every day. You can voice your opinion, but the micromanager is unlikely to change. Instead, it's better to keep your distance for the tasks you care most about, give feedback, and try to build more trust--most micromanagers are born out of internal anxieties.
4. The buddy.
The buddy wants to be your friend in the workplace. She'll always greet you with a cheery disposition, will be soft when it comes to feedback or advice, and won't set strict deadlines. On one hand, you'll get more flexibility in your tasks and actions, but on the other, you'll have less constructive criticism on which to build your abilities. Here, you'll have to ask for feedback directly, and you may need to work up the discipline to set more limits, goals, and directives for yourself.
5. The shiny object chaser.
The shiny object chaser lacks focus, or at least consistency in focus. He'll start the week demanding one set of goals or working objectives, but by mid-week, he'll have changed his mind. He may get excited about a new Instagram-based marketing campaign, but completely lose interest when another new social media platform catches his fancy. He has a lot of energy, but priorities shift--sometimes radically--far too often for any reasonable person to keep up. It's hard to deal with this, but the best approach is to communicate frequently about priorities, hedge your bets by only investing fully when you're sure a priority will stick, and not taking it personally when he switches gears on you.
6. The apathetic boss.
The apathetic boss shares some similarities with the hands-off boss, but is somewhat more destructive in her processes. Whereas the hands-off boss attempts to empower employees by giving them more liberties and less interference, the apathetic boss truly doesn't care about her job--or at least her position as manager. She'll be hard to communicate with, and indifferent to even your greatest successes and failure. If you're the type who thrives on feedback, this will be difficult for you. The best approach is to gather feedback however you can--from peers if you have to, and keep your focus on your own position.
7. The balanced boss.
The balanced boss is the rarest type of boss, because he embodies so many different qualities at once--and keeps them reasonably balanced. He'll give you flexibility without alienating you, be approachable without crossing the professional line, and will change his mind without losing focus on his original objectives. If you end up working for a balanced boss, count yourself lucky; here, almost any worker can thrive.
There are two notes I'd like to add to this list. The first is that no one type of boss is inherently "bad" or "good." Yes, it may be annoying to deal with a micromanager, or frustrating to keep up with a shiny object chaser, but there are some advantages to these styles you may not see--and they don't necessitate that their practitioners are bad workers (or bad human beings). Second, this is a list of archetypes. Every boss you meet will be a unique human being, with his/her own set of strengths and weaknesses. Some may fall into multiple categories. Others won't fall into any. This merely exists as a guide to help you navigate some of the most common--and most challenging--management styles out there.