How to manage different types of bosses at work

A boss is a boss in any part of the world. He or she has power. The boss is always right. And there are different types of bosses, each of whom needs a particular set of skills to manage. Some nuances of managing such different types of bosses are discussed in this article.


One will positively find different types of bosses. No two bosses are the same. When we, as subordinates are placed under one or the other different types of bosses, we need to understand what it takes to effectively manage such bosses. There are some clear things that can be done and certain things cannot be done.

Be that as it may, it always happens that we need to manage a) Development-oriented bosses b) Autocratic bosses c) Benevolent Autocratic bosses d) Insecure bosses and e) Cunning bosses.

Managing Development-oriented bosses

If we have such bosses, our career is assured. A development-oriented boss is a perfect gentleman or gentlewoman, who really believes that he or she is a better performer only when he or she develops a big team of high performers. Not only this. If this boss is the CEO, he or she will clearly take this philosophy to at least three levels below and impress each boss that he has to really develop subordinates. For them, leadership is defined as a process where one can get things done even in his or her absence. Most of these bosses never visit the shop floor, unless it is absolutely necessary. If they are in staff functions like HR or Finance, they are really silent performers. Their presence will be felt everywhere but they are often silent, no-nonsense performers who manage to convey their Vision on getting things done through highly qualified and skilled subordinates. Many managers who report to such bosses have a whale of a time. They really experience the difference and are wedded to such bosses for a very long time. Such bosses are clearly for the long-term. In fact, their infectious enthusiasm often motivates several dozens of executives who work for decades in the organization. There is nothing to "manage" such bosses. One has to just do his or her duty and the rest will fall in place.

Managing Autocratic bosses

In sharp contrast to the development-oriented boss, there is this tribe called the autocratic boss. Such bosses have a tendency to centralize all power. They have some powerful Godfather at the Central office and this could also be an owner-manager. That makes a big difference. Every single mistake is done by them or the unpleasant outward behaviour of such bosses often never come to light. They go all out to even spy on subordinates after work hours. They would always want their absolute right to sanction the smallest expenditures, sometimes as small as five hundred rupees.

There is no point in fretting and fuming about all the external manifestations of the deep-rooted basic philosophy of the bosses in terms of behaviour. However, if we manage to learn some skill-sets by striking good relationships with other talented peers ( some of whom may sometimes enjoy slightly better relationships with the autocratic boss). we would have earned some green shoots for our career development. The autocratic bosses also have some plusses in terms of decision-making under real crisis situations. Even if those situations do not directly affect us, through our own research, if we are able to document the finer details of each of such decisions of the autocratic bosses, such learning will stand us in good stead on a future date. The best solution is to park ourselves for four to five years and then move on. In all probability, we would have already learned more about patience, tolerance, ability to withstand big stress and so on. In a lighter vein, we would also have learned how to manage office gossip as well.

That said, it is totally unwise to become one more "yesman" or "yeswoman", whatever be the scope of such a move. This is not at all to our advantage. We should learn to be neutral, just do our duty and then go ahead. It is unwise to work under such bosses for more than sixty months.

Managing Benevolent Autocratic bosses

These bosses are a shade better than the absolutely autocratic type of bosses. These bosses have some humanity in them. This is often reflected in the total care that they seek to extend to any employee or his or her family member who is sick or meets with an accident and so on. That apart, these bosses are also somewhat development-oriented and are somewhat kind when it comes to encouraging talented subordinates.

They do not tolerate slack performance. Yet, they often tend to give subordinates more room to grow and then make them far more talented. Even when they want absolute power, they sometimes tend to delegate powers to some extent. They are far better at any relationship outside work and tend to socialize within limits. The best way to manage such bosses is to follow all that has been discussed for the autocratic bosses. Such methods will also work for these bosses. However, we should also make extra efforts to fully capitalize on every bit of learning that comes our way. In fact, this is far easier and we should be aware of such opportunities.

Managing Insecure bosses

These types of bosses are worse than both the autocratic bosses and the benevolent autocratic bosses. They are poor performers. But they manage to pull on with the big support of some Godfather in the Corporate Office. They are so insecure that the subordinates tend to think that they are afraid of their own shadows!!

These bosses are highly eccentric. For example, they tend to write down the silliest of tasks that need to be done. One such would read " to follow up with Head of HR for performance review". Well, it is appraisal time and that task is priority number one. It makes no sense to list such a "to do" task.

The only option available is to check if there is transparency to share some details with the HR Head. If yes, there could be some intervention resulting in some better behaviour. This is easier said than done, though. For, these bosses have all the trappings of the autocratic bosses. Their behaviour is worse than the autocratic bosses. It has to be said that over ninety-eight per cent of the autocratic bosses are high performers. This is just not the case with the insecure bosses who actually form the exact rest of two percent of autocratic bosses. Their memory is also not good. They tend to confuse themselves and they confuse others too.

The second managing trick is to follow the dictum of these bosses, do all the work but lie low. More often than not, when our work gets recognized, we will notice that there will be someone at the top who will appreciate us. This can form the starting point of some good things to follow. However, the third and the best option is to learn whatever is possible by staying behind for much longer hours and then looking out for far better opportunities in our career.

Managing Cunning bosses

This is the worst type of boss. Normally, these bosses are typically found in departments with external interfaces. Like public relations or materials management. These bosses are shameless bullies. They are often corrupt as well. Once again, they survive only because there will always be some other cunning fellow or even more than five cunning fellows who exhibit similar behaviours and have several axes to grind. The bosses have no ethics at all. They tend to trap subordinates in some politics and even threaten them.

We have no choice but to tolerate their whims and fancies for a while. However, we should gather the courage to expose them. We might not be promoted. Yet, we would have given scope for some good managerial action that such dangerous bosses are even made to resign. It should be noted that these bosses are not everywhere. They are found in remote factories that manufacture cement or sugar or some heavy chemical. Hence, the best strategy is to play ball for a while, but stick to highly ethical methods and do our own work. Secondly, we should attempt to expose them. If nothing works, it is fine to quit.

We should all remember that these are days when we might not be able to survive in any organization, with rare exceptions, for more than six years. We need to continuously add value to our skill-sets and get them as updated as possible. If we are able to do this, our lives will change for the better. This is common to any type of bosses we encounter and is an important point to remember, at any point in time.


Irrespective of our present position, it is quite possible that we encounter one or the different types of bosses that we normally see in our lives. Some simple methods of managing the different types of bosses have been discussed above. Of course, we will have to innovate in each of the methods in line with the finer circumstances of each situation that we find ourselves in.


Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao03 Mar 2020 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 15

A good article from the author and he has given in detail the types of bosses and how one should deal with them. This is very good learning for the employees who have just started their career. One general rule we should never forget is that the boss is always correct.

I have almost 40 years of industrial experience and for more than 25 years I used to manage the multi-locational and multiproduct operations and almost 1500 workers were working in these operations. So I have seen many types of bosses and subordinates. During my entire service, I reported either to the Managing Director or Technical Director. But many senior Managers used to report to me. I always used to believe that unless otherwise, we allow our subordinates to take over our role we can't go up in the ladder. So I used to give free hand to my subordinates but used to keep a watch so that the issue will never go out of proportion. I used to understand the strengths and weaknesses of them and support them in their required areas. After reading this article I will grade myself as a development-oriented boss.

Coming to the point of handling bosses, we all should keep the point in mind that the person is our boss. We should never talk badly about him in the presence of others in his absence. Some bosses will give you a free hearing. To those bosses, you can open out your views. But some bosses feel that they know everything. When such bosses are telling you something even though you know what he is telling is wrong you should not say straight that he is wrong. It will upset him and your growth will be hampered. You should hear them and after he completes his talk, you can start asking him doubts. The more the doubts you ask the happier he is. During this, you can make him understand that there is something wrong with his point. But again, you should be never a yes boss type. Sometimes you should say no also but you have to put it in the way he receives well and the timing is also a very important point.

The worst bosses are those who are not competent to be the boss. Such people will shield their subordinates from the top people and act as a postman. But they use their intelligence and when the works are successful they use the word I and say I did it. But when the task is a failure he will use the word he and that he will be the most talented subordinate of him and whom he feels like a threat to him in the coming days. They are very dangerous and subordinates should keep everything in black and white while working under such people.

Author: Venkiteswaran11 May 2020 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 8

I remember seeing a wallpaper hanging with a picture of a monkey and with the caption" Boss is always right".

I also remember one of my relatives narrating his 'heroic' deeds in his office when he used to come on leave. One of the anecdotes which lie in my mind is that he used to tell that just before leaving the office on the last day before leave starts, he used to mumble smilingly some 'compliments' on his boss in his own mother tongue which the boss did not understand. The one he used to highlight was 'At least for another twenty days I need not see your monkey face". As I was a kid then I used to giggle and jump hearing the word 'monkey face'. I also recall reading a quote "Boss is one who comes to the office early when you are late, and comes late when you reach office early".

These incidents gave me some insight into how employees viewed their bosses and helped me to put up a good attitude and behaviour as a subordinate and also as a supervising official later. My own career experience told me that one needs to be unbiased and sincere only to the work and the employer organisation. One should not try to develop extra loyalties for achieving self-interests through short cuts. If so, managing any boss is not a botheration.

Instead of expecting others to change or trying to manage them, it is better to manage ourselves complying to the organisational aims and guidelines and to our own moral and legal values.

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