By Nan Nan Liu-Maffetone | Strong Female Leaders | Reading Time: Five Minutes
Great bosses are everywhere, and so are the terrible ones. Unfortuately, you will most likely have to deal with a terrible boss sometime in your career. While poor leadership usually stems from insecurity, which can happen to everyone, the good leaders handle their fears, doubts and negative emotions much better than the bad ones. While bad leaders may not even be aware of their poor behaviors, you can be aware of such behaviors for your own sanity’s sake. If you can identify a bad boss earlier on, you can find ways to turn the negative circumstance into a positive outcome. See below for the five common types of bad leaders and how you can improve the situations.

1. The Know-It-All
This person has all the answers and throws them in everyone’s face. While she preaches for autonomy and empowerment of the individual, her know-it-all attitude sways decision-making in her own direction every time. The air around her is filled with superficial smiles, brown nosing and ceremonial chatters. It’s quite obvious that people fear her more than they respect her, but she doesn’t care, does she. All that she cares about is having the last say.
If an important part of a leader’s role is to develop team members, she will never achieve that with her superior attitude. In trying to summon power, she misses the very essense of power: that power, like energy, is neither created nor destroyed. It transfers. One day, all of the power that she tried so hard to collect will flow elsewhere. Perhaps that day will occur when, eventually, her team feels so dispirited that they begin to tap out.
When no one believes in the leader, how powerful is she anyway?
How can you help the situation? Run if you can, because this person’s ego leaves no room for you or anyone else to grow. You will feel stifled, trapped and undermined. Her behavior will poison your career and very likely your life too. The sad thing is it’s not because of you but because of her. Usually when someone imposes authority, she has no authority to begin with, and hence the hard fight to prove herself.
2. The Micromanager
The micromanager might as well tattoo her insecurities on her forehead. She takes tasks out of others' hands simply to make the point that she is better. She writes reviews like a critic on steroids and elaborates on the most minute detail. She hovers over her team like a helicopter parent who just can't let go. She leaves you baffled as to why she even took a leadership role in the first place.
Unfortunately, before being shoved into the leadership lane, she performed quite well at her job. She was the star team member with excellent technical skills and leadership potential, except now, she can no longer leverage her original skill set to be successful in this type of position. Still, there is hope for her: with some training and experience, a technically-inclined person can blossom into a well-rounded leader. The real question is: does she really wants this? Usually, when someone expresses that much reluctance to let go, she probably never wanted the new role in the first place. Sadly, her hovering leaves no room for herself or the team to move toward success. Ultimately, everyone suffers.
How can you help the situation? If you need her to back off, gain her trust first. Check in with her frequently. Give her a status update before she requests for it. Schedule repeat meetings with her in advance. The micromanager desperately wants your attention, so give her as much time as you can afford until she realizes that all this hovering really is unnecessary and counter productive.
3. The Non-Responder
A lack of response usually stems from fear of being exposed as ignorant. It is a manifestation of feeling helpless and lacking in power and purpose. Often, when everyone else on the team has more knowledge and expertise in the team's value stream than the non-responder, she feels inadequate, unwelcomed and paralyzed. Her future looks gloomy and uncertain, and at the moment she needs comfort.
How can you help the situation? Help the non-responder by giving her a purpose. Find out what she is good at and wants out of her career, and motivate her to pursue it. A little nudge in the right direction will give her the confidence she needs. Also, once in a while, throw her a bone. Invite her to team ceremonies like happy hours, discussions and lunches, and give her a sense of inclusion. At the very least, let her know that teams still need someone with management and admin skills, and those skills are very much an important part of a team's success. In time, she will find her purpose, stop being aloof, and start doing her job.

4. The Rescuer
When there is trouble, big or small, she is the first to come to the rescue. If there is a conflict, personality- or project-driven, she is the first to step in and solve the issue. She is all too eager to save the day and doesn't offer anyone else the chance to step up. Sometimes, it feels like she wants conflict to happen so she can have a place to shine.
To a naive and impressionable newbie, she may seem like the perfect leader. After all, she covers your mistakes and sugarcoats negative feedback, giving your ego a dose of blissful ignorance.
But you are not naive and impressionable, are you? You see right through all those heroic acts and spot the underlying intention: it's all about her and her path to power. She believes that to gain control and influence, she needs to be the savior. She doesn't care about giving growth opportunities to others or giving honest feedback. When she saves the day, she is at the center of it all.
How can you improve the situation? Give it to her straight. Schedule a private meeting and tell her that you would like the opportunity to resolve issues yourselve, take a stab at a challenge, and welcome negative feedback as long as they are constructive. Then follow up with specific examples and state exactly how you want things to improve.
If you speak to her professionally, and if she is fit to lead, then the conversation will end constructively. Most likely, the rescuer just needs a reminder of what she is doing wrong. A blunt intervention may be of help here.
5. The Silent One
This person is almost the perfect leader: she empowers the team, believes in the mission, and gets along with everyone. However, for some reason, she loses that strong voice of hers in front of those who are organizationally higher in title power. The traditional and often outdated org chart and corporate hierarchy is ingrained in her DNA, and she can't seem to see the truth: that holding a title does not give one authority but rather a level of servitute and an amount of responsibility. As a professional, she deserves to be seen, heard and respected, just like everyone else who receives a paycheck from the same place. However, she has already positioned herself below arbitrary titles. Therefore, she will never lead hereslf or her team anywhere significant.
The failure to lobby for her own eventually causes the team to lose opportunities, funding and credit. Her team members might lose well-deserved rewards, promotions and raises. Eventually, the team will lose headcount and risk dissipation because the decision-makers have no idea why the team even exists. This leader's effective team-level leadership goes to waste, because she cannot stand up for herself or anyone else.
How can you improve the situation? The silent leader has no courage. Sadly, her position is set in stone, and her mindset is rigid. It will take a lot of growing up to get her to snap out of it. You can wait for her to get brave or step it up yourself. (Pleases do the ladder!) Take any and every opportunity to speak up about the value that your team brings. Make up for lost time and toot the horn as loudly as you can. Reach out to other teams, offer to help, throw your team's presence in their faces. Take your team's fate into your own hands and never let one person's cowardice lead to your or the team's demise.
Parting Thoughts
Now that you have identified some of the most common types of bad leaders, please remember this: none of them are bad people. Their behaviors are circumstantial and there are many factors that create these circumstances. While you cannot change all situations, you can improve them by taking action. One little act of courage, kindness and reason can spark big changes.
You have the power, even and perhaps especially, when leadership does not.
1) Survive the bad leader with this ultimate guide for bad bosses at A Survival Guide for Working With Bad Bosses: Dealing With Bullies, Idiots, Back-stabbers, And Other Managers from Hell

2) Step up as a leader yourself with Leading Without Authority: How Every One of Us Can Build Trust, Create Candor, Energize Our Teams, and Make a Difference

3) Pin this article!
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