Avoid Bad Bosses—Train Better Leaders!

Everybody’s had a bad boss at some point in his or her career. Given their prevalence, you can train better leaders by identifying the dysfunctional ones. Know who the bad bosses are, the traits they embody, and their interpersonal failings in order to build empathetic, communicative, and overall “good” bosses.

Recently, Second City Works—a provider of improve-based learning, digital content, and entertainment—released a survey that highlights specific “bad boss” archetypes that contribute to premature hair loss and drinking before bed.
The study, Bad Freakin’ Bosses, was conducted throughout September 2015. Second City Works surveyed more than 2,000 North American full-time employees, honing in on more than 300 who have a “bad boss” right now.
Key Findings from the Survey
“Good” and “bad” leadership are subjective and exist on a spectrum. Yet, there are some egregious missteps that separate the capable from the incompetent. It’s not bad breath and awkward jokes that turn a leader into a punch line. It’s the big-picture issues. According to surveyed employees, the differences manifest mostly around issues like communication and empathy.
Unlikeable Bosses = Unleadable Employees

  • Workers who don’t like their bosses are six times more likely to say their bosses make inappropriate remarks around the office than those who like their bosses.
  • Fifty-three percent of workers who dislike their boss say their boss “went rogue” and was completely misaligned with company objectives, vs. the 12% who like their boss.
  • Fifty-six percent of workers with lousy bosses have witnessed them commit a micro-aggression—a verbal or nonverbal exchange that comes off as hostile or derogatory to a specific person depending on their social group—in the office.
  • The older a boss is, the more likely micro-aggressions are an issue. American bosses are also almost twice as likely to commit these acts as their Canadian counterparts.

The Symptoms of the Empathy-Deficient Bosses

  • Employees who dislike their boss are five times more likely to say their boss shoots down other people’s new ideas than those who like their boss.
  • Almost one-half (47%) of workers who are unhappy with their boss report that they are passive-aggressively asked to work beyond traditional office hours.


  • Workers who dislike their boss are more than twice as likely to say they rarely receive notes of constructive criticism.
  • Fifty-five percent of workers who dislike their boss say their boss rarely responds when completed work is sent over, compared to 12% of workers who like their boss.
  • Fifty-three percent of employees who dislike their boss say their boss doesn’t communicate expectations well, compared to 12% of employees who like their superior.

There is good news, however: Talented leaders prioritize and nurture positive relationships with their staff, resulting in multiple benefits. The top-rated benefits to having a boss you like are:

  • Increased on-the-job happiness;
  • Better work/life balance; and
  • More productivity at work.

For more information on this study, visit the Second City Works website.