Advice » In the Workplace» Workplace Issues » Cope with Five Boss Personality ...
Cope with Five Boss Personality Types

Cope with Five Boss Personality Types

By Charles Purdy, Monster Senior Editor

Great bosses share similar traits -- they're clear communicators, good listeners and confident decision makers, for instance -- but as many of us can attest, each bad (or just difficult-to-work-with) boss is bad in his own way.

Nonetheless, some boss personality types are so recognizable that they've been immortalized in pop culture. Here's how to deal with five of them:

1. The Authoritative Boss (e.g., Don Draper, Mad Men)

The authoritative boss is the ultimate risk taker and has a flair for drama. On the downside, he can be a poor communicator. He's creative and perceptive, but he's also suspicious of others.

"Most important is to acknowledge how clever they are, how they seek justice and how they find really good shortcuts to get the work done," says leadership and communication expert Sylvia Lafair, author of Don't Bring It to Work.

Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant and CEO of Lynn Taylor Consulting, suggests that when dealing with someone who is suspicious, you should "get specific" and allow little room for misinterpretation. She also suggests putting communication in an email to prevent miscommunication.

2. The Narcissistic Boss (e.g., Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada)

The narcissistic boss is hugely self-entitled -- often justifiably so. She puts herself on a pedestal far above subordinates, of whom she is ruthlessly critical. She does not welcome feedback and has little empathy.

Taylor recommends using what she calls the "CALM" method (Communicate, Anticipate, Laugh and Manage Up) with these bosses.

"Communicate frequently, honestly and regularly with aggressive bosses, so you understand what's behind all the blustering,” she says. “Anticipate problems before they occur or become more stressful [and don't encourage a tantrum with bad timing, either]. Taylor also suggests laughter. "A little levity goes a long way when tensions are running high," she says. "Manage up by being a role model of good behavior, using positive and negative reinforcement as you would with a child."

3. The Everyman Boss (e.g., Michael Scott, The Office)

This boss is likable enough, but he's sometimes inappropriate. He manages from the gut, and he's just too wishy-washy to lead effectively.

Janet Civitelli, workplace psychologist at, says one of the best strategies for dealing with an indecisive boss is to train him into realizing that decisions aren't so scary. "Indecision often stems from fear of making a mistake or looking bad, so try to find ways to help your boss shine," she says.

Vicky Oliver, author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions, suggest using your boss’s lack of leadership abilities as an opportunity for yourself. “Take the lead in the discussion, but stay detached from any particular outcome,” she says. “Use logic, rather than unbridled passion."

4. The Autocratic Boss (e.g., Vito Corleone, The Godfather)

Regardless of his physicality, Lafair describes this boss as "large and in charge." He is cruel (even a bit of a bully) and sometimes very frightening.

"The best way to handle these bosses is to let them know you appreciate how they have situations under control,” Lafair says. “[Demonstrate that] you're willing to be another pair of eyes, so that when chaos and anxiety are stirring, you can be available to help find ways to calm situations down."

5. The Pace-Setting Boss (e.g., Donald Trump, The Apprentice)

This is the boss who creates a competitive environment at work. He sets very high goals and standards -- and is very demanding of employees.

With a boss who sets hard-to-achieve goals, ask for as many details as possible, says Andy Kanefield, co-author of Uncommon Sense. "Ask for details about what it means, what the steps look like, who they've seen that has done it well,” he says. “Try to get a picture of what success looks like."

Then, Lafair says, you should acknowledge how much you appreciate those clear goals -- "and then the great policies and procedures fall into place." 

Articles in This Feature: 

Latest Jobs

Company Confidential
Posted: 07/01/2015
Granite City, 62040
S & H Transportation
Posted: 07/01/2015
Cottleville, 63366
Estenson Logistics
Posted: 07/01/2015
Cottleville, 63366
Sams Carpet Cleaning
Posted: 07/01/2015
Saint Charles, 63301
Posted: 07/01/2015
Northwest Plaza, 63074

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.12.0.54-213