bad bosses competency modelThe next time you have a moment to spare and have grown tired of reading online news and checking social media, do a search on "characteristics of a bad boss". The lists, articles, stories and images that will surface will likely make you laugh. There is no shortage of examples of what it's like to work for a bad manager. One of my favorite lists of characteristics was published on - 31 Telltale Signs You Are A Horrible Boss. Great list - but my guess is that if you are a horrible boss you will not likely see these telltale signs in yourself.

In my recently published whitepaper, Finding and Managing the Bad Boss, I wrote about the warning signs of a bad boss by applying my experience in competency model development. The excerpt below describes the competencies of a bad boss.

Many organizations set forth a set of leadership competencies or expectations that are meant to clearly describe what is expected of leaders within the company. Leadership competency models typically include the constructs of integrity, self-awareness, managing performance and execution, and managerial courage. These constructs are key differentiators between effective and ineffective or even destructive managers. Great managers excel in these areas. Bad managers may lack these competencies but they may also over-rely on certain behaviors (too much of a good thing may turn bad) or ineffectively demonstrate behaviors. Here are some examples of the behavioral profile that can emerge when managers fail to effectively demonstrate these competencies:

Integrity and Professionalism

A failure to effectively demonstrate integrity and professionalism can incorporate bullying behavior but typically includes the following:

  • Fails to keep confidences or commitments
  • Appears to listen to employee concerns but fails to take action
  • Lack of ownership and accountability for own performance
  • Blames others for problems or failures and ‘hogs’ credit for successes
  • Treats team members inequitably/shows preferential treatment
  • Misrepresents self for personal gain
  • Is not widely trusted by others

Performance Management and Execution

Managers who do not effectively manage performance and execution within the team may still achieve results but do so in a disruptive way.

  • Micromanages activities
  • Fails to involve employees in decisions that impact their work
  • Does not delegate tasks
  • Provides poor or too little direction
  • Does not provide feedback on performance and fails to follow up to ensure effective performance
  • Fails to provide team members with professional development opportunities and blocks talent

Managerial Courage

Individuals who lack the courage required to be an effective manager exhibit behaviors that cause them to lose the respect of their teams, as well as their colleagues.

  • Avoids offering direct and candid performance feedback
  • Fails to address conflicts or performance issues that impact the entire team
  • Does not stand up for the needs or interests of the team
  • Fails to make important decisions in a timely manner


Managers who do not effectively demonstrate self-awareness may seem to operate in their own world and are unable to develop relationships with others in the organization.

  • Completely unaware of their weaknesses or short comings
  • Fails to solicit feedback from others on performance
  • Does not understand the impact that their behavior has on others
  • Makes decisions and takes action aimed at own best interests

Want to learn more about identifying and dealing with bad bosses in your company? Click below to download the whitepaper, Finding and Managing the Bad Boss.

Download - Finding and Managing the Bad Boss