In his path breaking book “Business Without Bullshit” – Geoffrey James has outlined 12 types of bosses based on their management style. Use this visual representation of these bosses to see if you can match your boss to a particular type. Hopefully this will help you deal better with him or her.
1. The Visionary
Visionaries are always future oriented, and could not be much bothered with what’s going on right now. While “Steve Jobs” comes to mind when you think of this kind of boss, not every one is as effective
- The create an impossible vision that makes the employees feel that they can achieve the impossible.
- Sometimes it can be a life changing experience
- Most often they are dreamers without any ability to execute.
- But when they are capable of driving execution – they are usually rash, rude and difficult to deal with
- You might have a difficult experience with long working hours
- If the visionary boss inspires you then you should start with respect. Think of yourselves as the Steve Wozniak to his Steve Jobs and act as the chief executor of his vision
- Recognize that all ideas need not be acted on
- Explain the time commitment and help him prioritize
2. The Climber
Climbers are interested in you only insofar as you can help or hinder their ascent to the corner office. They spend most of their time and effort figuring out how to win status, claim credit, and build alliances.
- If you manage to be on the right side of a climber you can find him or her pulling you up along with him
- Because they’re obsessed with their own career, they see you (and everyone else) only as either a help or a hindrance to achieving their personal goals. If you are no use to them they will dump you in no time.
- If you’re working for a climber, become the person who “has his back” when his fellow climbers try to stab it.
3. The Bureaucrat
Bureaucrats want everything run by the book. They are resistant to change because they see their current situation as the best of all possible worlds. They love meetings that discuss activities of others
- They thrive inside large companies and so if you are working in large company, then it may not be so bad
- Want work life balance – you get it under this kind of boss. They are predictable and easy to please
- If you are working under a bureaucrat in a startup, he is going to be found out soon and this may impact you as well
- They are going to ground your creativity to dust, so do not spend too much time under such a boss
- They are fairly predictable – they expect you to document everything in great detail and limit your activities to tried and tested ones. Never try to do anything new.
- Try to get away before you become them
4. The Engineer Manager
When engineers get into the management chain, they bring a technology-oriented worldview with them. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean you’ll be judged almost entirely on your technical competence.
- If you are technical and are good with specific skills they will love you
- They will usually not bother you much, connecting only via emails even when they are sitting next to you
- If you are an MBA or devoid of specific technical skills you may be in for a tough time under such a boss
- They tend to avoid people issues and so may not offer much of emotional support for you
- Show case your technical capabilities and use dashboards for every update
- Us pop culture references of “Avengers”, “Star Wars”, “Big Bang Theory” etc to illustrate points. He will love you for this.
5. The “Old” School Boss
These bosses have been around for a long time stuck in particular position, possibly because they are not bad enough to be fired and not good enough to be promoted. They are simultaneously wise to the ways of the world, but also clueless as to what’s going on currently
- If they are close to retirement they could be quite helpful and jovial
- They will know in an out of the company and will be quite well versed in the power dynamics at play in the company. Try to make them your mentor and you stand to benefit.
- If they are too young to retire but quite a veteran in the company, they may be unpleasant to dal with
- It will tax your patience no end to hear their old war stories umpteen times
- They seek reassurance about their relevance and respect from the young ones, if you can provide them these, you are gold
6. The Young Immature Boss
Sometimes you might have to work in a startup under a CEO who is barely out of his 20s and got an insane amount of funding. Or it might be the CEO calling up his buddies to fill all the VP vacancies in the company. The end result is that you are now dealing with a young whippersnapper who has been assigned to manage older employees. These are full of energy and enthusiasm and quite immature in their selection of projects to work on.
- You may be lucky and you may have a Zuckerberg in your hands, and if so hold on for dear life. Think of all the millionaires in Facebook.
- You may end up wasting a lot of time going into rabbit holes at the whim of the boss and repairing problems generated
- Match up to the energy of the young boss
- Never remind them of their inexperience
- They have high level of insecurity and they are secretly afraid of not being taken seriously. Try to be the one who gets them.
- If however, they are difficult to work with and do not show the learning curve expected, you may be better off getting off the ship
7. The Buddy
The buddy boss wants to be your best friend, she wants to be seen as your equal and wants to hang out with the subordinates at all time. This may feel good initially but will start getting irritating pretty soon. They are usually indecisive and shy away from taking tough decisions that might upset their reports. This means that if there is the annoying co-worker who does not pull his weight, do not rely on this boss to sort him out.
- Easy to get along with, they will never cause you any serious stress
- On the flip side you can never rely on this boss to fight for you even if you are the best in your team. Be prepared for a socialist approach that dampens the high performers and provides cushion for the low performers.
- They may get emotional if their attempts at being a buddy are pushed back
- If you want anything done, make sure you lobby the whole team so that you can convince the boss
- Stay friendly but professional, or you might find that your boss wants to go to lunch with you everyday and hang out with you on Friday nights
8. The Dictator
We all have dealt with this kind of bosses – the dictators who have the “my way or the highway” attitude. These kind of bosses were more predominant in the earlier ages, now you will see the more sophisticated ones who are cool on the exterior but icy cool in the interior.
- You know what to expect. There is no grey area here – you know you just have to follow orders
- One good thing is that they are predictable
- A dictator boss may leave you psychologically shattered for a long time
- Dictators will destroy the team and destroy the unit in the organization
- Lie low and follow orders assiduously, never argue with a dictator boss, wait for him or her to be gone
- If the dictator is seen positively by his or her boss, then you might be better off leaving
9. The Sales Superstar
Sometimes a sales superstar is promoted up the management chain – the only problem arises when selling is the only thing this person is good at. Everything else – not so much. Managing people – hmm….
- They tend to be good at building relationships and and self motivated
- They are more practical and solution minded
- Successful salespeople are usually manipulative and adjust according to client’s needs. They may not have the leadership material necessary to succeed as a manager
- Use them in situations where their sales skills can help the team and you – situations involving closing of deals or negotiation of terms
10. The Hatchet Man
These are mercenaries bought into an organization by a private equity owner or by an acquiring company, or by an owner looking to downsize considerably to make the company more attractive to outside companies
- They are unemotional but they still love to be feted as ones saving an organization. If you can prepare a dossier of things that could be improved in the company – efficiencies that could be improved
- If you show anger at them or show any displeasure about their presence, you could be immediately moved out of the company
- When a hatchet man arrives – you can either be his assistant or you can be the victim. The assistant also is only extending his time for a few more months.
- Better to be long gone before the hatchet man arrives
11. The Lost Lamb/Pushover
Sometimes accidents happen and people get promoted to positions they are not capable of handling. They have no idea what to do other than take the path of least resistance. Their goal is to avoid any kinds of issues or do anything that could be held against them. In handling teams they are pushovers of the highest degree.
- You can get away with anything – coming late, going early, missing deadlines, looking for other jobs while at work, anything.
- No progress is going to happen while you work for this kind of boss.
- Manage your boss’s boss so that you can be considered for the position instead as this person is quite incapable
- If you work hard to make you boss is successful, then management may not realize their mistake and you will be stuck with this boss for a long time
12. The Good Boss
Maybe you are blessed – you have one of those rare managers who are well equipped to be managers of other people. They love to coach their subordinates instead of doing everything themselves. They are fair and respectful and want their team to succeed.
- Self evident, as you are likely to have a better time than 90% of people working under a manager
- They give credit to the team for wins and take personal responsibility for losses
- Once you work under a good boss it will be difficult to work under anybody less than stellar ever again
- They will probably get recruited or promoted elsewhere so you will not have them for a long time
- Just do your best and try to attach yourselves to this manager so that he takes you wherever he goes
And here are few more from our side in case the above list does not cover your kind of boss.
13. The Perfectionist < Micromanager
The perfectionist just tries to make sure she gets things done to her satisfaction and she might end up controlling some parts of the work you do, which she feels is not up to her standards. The micromanager on the other hand wants to control everything you do.
- Don’t take it personally, its just the way they are
- Run everything by the manager and get her blessings
- If things get unbearable, escape…….
14. The Introvert
The Introvert boss is a reluctant boss. She/he was promoted because of her hard skills and possibly in spite of the lack of soft skills. They are lone wolves and prefer to work alone. Now they have to manage people, they would rather do the communication via email.
- Important to be self sufficient with an introvert boss as he may not be available for your emotional needs.
- Avoid small talk and get to the point. Use their help with pointed questions or needs.
- Take initiative to speak up even if she does not seem to be inviting
15. The MIA Boss
The MIA boss may be an important person who does not have time for trivial pursuits like managing people. He might be out on meetings, or working from home or might prefer to lock himself up. He is different from introverts in that he can get along with people. he just thinks its not that important.
- Important to be self sufficient again, like you would do with an introvert boss
- Make use of the time whenever he is available
- Great for independent workers but even they need motivation. Stay proactive and check in constantly.
As they say, knowledge is power and knowing your boss type can help you navigate better in the corporate landscape.