The 5 Scary Types of Managers

business man with a beard peeking through venetian blinds

Gather ‘round for a tale of workplace woe. Once upon a time there was a boss. He was generally a jovial fellow. But when the moon was full, he would transform into a wild creature overnight, suddenly terrorizing the team, derailing focus, and trashing plans. I once even saw him chase an employee around a conference room table like he was out for blood. The next day the boss would show up to work, back to his congenial self and act as if nothing had happened. Scary stuff.

Does this tale sound familiar? You know who I am talking about — the boss who seems to delight in causing havoc. Unfortunately for many people, it is an all too common experience.

Of course, not every boss is a monster. As you travel along your career path you will likely encounter many average run-of-the-mill managers. You may even meet a great one — who sees your potential and inspires your best work.  

But you must also watch out for the manager who seems more intent on terrifying the team than inspiring anyone to greatness.

Scary managers are out there, and they can disrupt your work and career potential if you are not careful. Here are a few of the worst types of managers who love to scare employees:

The ghost
Have you ever been working quietly at your desk, making steady progress towards your goals, when you realize your boss is right there looking over your shoulder? Just knowing that someone is watching you is enough to give you the creeps. But you also want autonomy and space to do your work — these intrusions can undermine your confidence.

The monster
Unfortunately, too many of us have witnessed the leader who cannot control their temper — who storms into meetings and blows their cool at the slightest provocation. You never know where you stand with this beastly boss or when the next fit of rage might occur. To make matters worse, this leader seems to enjoy watching others cower in fear. Morale plummets — along with the team’s productivity.

The witch (or warlock)
You may have run across this troublesome manager who is especially inquisitive and quick to cackle at the plight of others. They want to know every little detail about you — to use against you later on. This boss’s specialty is stirring up mayhem by meddling in as many lives as possible. Learn to keep your personal life under wraps (or you will be next).

The zombie
Have you seen a frighteningly gaunt figure with bloodshot eyes, lurching around the office? Oh, that is just the zombie boss. The person spends so many hours tied up in pointless executive meetings and dead-end politicking that they are now only half-alive — with nothing left to offer you or the team.

The vampire
This manager appears to be perfectly normal at first. But you soon realize they do not have your best interests in mind. If you do not watch out, the vampire boss will suck you dry by assigning you all the tedious projects they do not want to complete. While you struggle to keep up with the workload, the boss is lurking around and taking credit for all of your best ideas.

You might not be able to exorcise the scary manager from your work environment. But you do not need to hide, even if everyone else is running scared. You can be the brave one — who always looks for the positive and helps others find it too.

Of course, you deserve a leader who genuinely cares about you and helps you grow. And you deserve to excel without constantly worrying about workplace drama devolving into some horror story.

However, learning to deal with the odd ghoul or goblin can teach you about resilience, and even build leadership skills by pointing out what not to do. And perhaps by the next full moon, that scary manager will have moved on and found some other unsuspecting workplace to haunt.

Do you have tales to share of scary managers?

About Brian and Aha!

Brian seeks business and wilderness adventure. He is the co-founder and CEO of Aha! — the world’s #1 product roadmap software — and the author of Lovability. His two previous startups were acquired by well-known public companies. Brian writes and speaks about product and company growth and the adventure of living a meaningful life.

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