The 6 Types of Boss & How they Can Stress You Out.

No matter how good your current boss is, or maybe you have one of my six! I’m sure you’ve either experienced one who makes you want to scream or simply “drives you mad”, sometimes literally!  If you haven’t, you might know someone – your friend, partner, sibling – they blurt “Aargghh! You’ll never guess what (s)he’s …..!”


So, let’s identify these bosses which stresses us the most?

  1. Dick Sweet but Thick!
  2. Theresa the Pleaser!
  3. Controlling Christine!
  4. Elliott takes the Credit!
  5. Teflon Tony!
  6. Tim acts on Whim!

Before we start, let’s clarify that these names used are entirely fictional and bear no resemblance to anyone living or dead, although their actions may well apply to someone you know!

Boss No.1 – Dick Sweet but Thick

So what do we know about Dick?  Generally falls into two categories.  Dick who lacks common sense; and Dick who is genuinely thick! Dick who lacks common sense – often intellectual and academic, quite often encountered on graduate management schemes, or is the one who gets moved around the organisation, after all there must be somewhere he fits! You’ll often hear his team saying “He just doesn’t get it!”  “We told him it wouldn’t work, now we’ve got to spend time putting it right”  “I wish he’d just let me get on, he wants to know the far end of everything, and then doesn’t get it!  He’s off the planet!”  We know them to be very enthusiastic, applying theory and jargon where pragmatism is needed.  Dick the Thick – well he is just not the brightest bulb in the box!  He  can’t grasp it no matter how many times you explain.  You are left wondering “how did he get the job he’s in?”  “what were they thinking the day he was appointed?!”

They’ll stress you out both through frustration and duplication of effort!

Boss No.2 – Theresa the Pleaser

Theresa’s behaviour, despite perhaps being well-intentioned, actually creates stress and discomfort for her employees. She shies away from conflict therefore never holds anyone accountable for their mistakes, leading to a toxic work environment where under-performance is tolerated. She may sugarcoat criticisms or avoid giving negative feedback altogether, depriving employees of opportunities for growth and improvement. You can’t improve if feedback is lacking!!

Theresa wants to keep everyone happy, she struggles to make tough decisions. This indecisiveness can lead to frustration among her team members who need clear direction and leadership.

Boss No.3 – Controlling Christine

When did you become unable to:– 

  • work under your own initiative
  • take decisions
  • make choices
  • understand the needs of your department and your role
  • to take action without checking first? 

When Christine started managing you!  You feel disempowered, deskilled, frustrated, unheard, and resentful.  At its worst, stripped of your confidence by her criticism, micro-management, demands, and your perception that “it’s her way or the highway!” 

Boss Type No.4 – Elliott takes the Credit!

Elliott is lazy, not as good as people think, and he will get found out eventually.  The sad thing is he doesn’t learn from the work you do when he’s passing it off as his own.  He unashamedly presents your work as his own, getting you to do a briefing note so that he deliver it.  This type of boss consistently adds to your workload, and you have to drop your priorities when he has to deliver, and your ideas become his. He is an empty vessel, has never had an original thought in his life.  You are worked off your feet, unrecognised, resentful, and frustrated.

Boss Type No.5 – Teflon Tony

We all know that nothing sticks to Teflon!  Well, when it all goes wrong, Teflon Tony is skilled at avoiding the flack.  Nothing sticks to him, he comes out of every situation as clean as a whistle.  Whereas you;  you get the job of putting it right.  He might even try to convince you that he “told you so”, or you might even get a reprimand for letting him and the department down, even though it wasn’t your fault!!  Oh yes – he’s slick, nothing sticks on him!

Boss Type No.6 – Tim acts on a Whim

“Why aren’t we doing this, it’s cutting edge, all the biggies have been doing it for ages?!”  Sound familiar?  This is Tim. Does he have strategic acumen?  Does he know the five year business plan?  Appears to be up there with the best?  All briefcase and no contents?!  He loves to feel he’s up there with the best.  Ideas come from what others are doing.  You end up with no focus.  You feel you never finish anything, constantly responding and researching his next whim!  This type of boss makes you feel dissatisfied, de-skilled, and more importantly without a sense of direction and focus.

Working in situations described above, we can question our identity, employers lose good staff through these people, each and every one of those managers can cause stress within the workplace.  Under pressure we all question ourselves

So, check out your reality, don’t lose perspective. Only through awareness can we take action.  Give feedback, challenge, and question.

It’s useful to remember that behaviour comes from 4 core areas

(1) Status (given or self imposed) – Manager,

(2) Belief – “I am the Manager”,  

(3) Competency – Able, have the tools, know what to do – or not in this case!

(4) Resources – Have the resources, use the resources at hand.

Above all, your gut and intuition are your unconscious speaking to your conscious – listen to it, perception generally doesn’t lie, don’t let the situation drag you down!

Grasp Stress Before It Grabs You!

Dealing with a boss who causes you stress can be challenging, but there are steps you can take to address the situation and alleviate some of that pressure. Here’s a guide on how to stop your boss from stressing you out:

  1. Identify the Source of Stress: Reflect on the specific behaviours or situations that cause you stress. Understanding the root cause will help you address it effectively.
  2. Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Communicate your availability to your boss and colleagues, and assertively prioritize tasks to manage your workload.
  3. Communicate Effectively: Schedule a private meeting with your boss to discuss your concerns in a calm and professional manner. Use “I” statements to express how their behaviour impacts you and suggest constructive solutions.
  4. Provide Feedback: Offer constructive feedback to your boss about specific behaviors that contribute to your stress. Be specific, objective, and offer suggestions for improvement.
  5. Focus on Solutions: Instead of dwelling on problems, focus on finding solutions. Propose alternative approaches or strategies that could help reduce stress for both you and your boss.
  6. Manage Expectations: Clarify expectations with your boss to ensure you’re both on the same page regarding workload, deadlines, and priorities. Set realistic goals and negotiate if necessary to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  7. Practice Self-Care: Take care of your physical and mental well-being by practicing self-care techniques such as exercise, mindfulness, and relaxation exercises. Prioritise activities outside of work that bring you joy and relaxation.
  8. Seek Support: Lean on your support network, whether it’s friends, family, or colleagues, for guidance and encouragement. Consider seeking advice from a mentor or HR representative if the situation persists.
  9. Document Incidents: Keep a record of stressful incidents, including dates, times, and details of what occurred. Documentation can be helpful if you need to escalate the issue or seek support from HR.
  10. Know When to Escalate: If the situation doesn’t improve despite your efforts, consider escalating the issue to HR or higher management. Present your concerns professionally and provide evidence to support your claims.

Remember that you have the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, and addressing stress with your boss is a proactive step toward improving your work situation.

And as employers we can create a strong management culture by developing leadership, communication, and behaviours.

Do you know a Dick, Theresa, Christine, Elliott, Tony, Tim?   We’d love to hear from you!