th images menu user export search eye clock list list2 arrow-left untitled twitter facebook googleplus instagram cross photos entrep-logo-svg

How to survive 4 types of toxic bosses

There are strategies to effectively deal with and survive unlikely superiors.
By Tor Constantino |


Almost everybody has at least one horror story about a terrible boss. Here are four such stories, from four different bosses and the skills it took to survive them all.



1. The incompetent.

Here’s one story I’ve heard:


“Following the acquisition of a previous company I worked for, a new vice president was named to takeover our high-functioning public affairs group that included government relations, community affairs, external and internal communications as well as corporate social responsibility.



While I was initially optimistic, within a few weeks my positivity faded as she gerrymandered the team's roles and responsibilities into a confusing, unworkable mess, with no face-to-face input or direct briefings from her down line. Within nine months of her taking over, more than 60 percent of the team had turned over voluntarily.


I didn't know the depth of her incompetence until a month or so later, when she commented in a meeting of senior leaders, "Why don't we just cut the price of our product in half to gain share?"”


That single statement demonstrated that she didn't know the business or flag-ship product. She never took the time to familiarize herself with its razor-thin margins, its cost of goods or its manufacturing process.


Survival tactic: When working with an incompetent boss, you need to augment and showcase your own level of competency. Know your business, your customers, your products, your numbers—everything, inside and out. Become the go-to-person within your group that the organization can rely on, because they can't rely on your boss.



Related: How successful people overcome toxic bosses


2. The bully.

Here’s another story about one particular CEO before, when he summarily fired a great boss who was beloved by union members and management alike.


The bullying CEO reveled in injecting fear into organizations. This guy embodied the corporate bully. His tenure was a little bit more than a year before declines in customer service forced his ouster from the top job.


Survival tactic: Whether in an elementary school classroom or a corporate boardroom, it's never easy facing a bully. But the key to surviving bullies in business is boldness. Others will notice you're not afraid of the bully and they may help you anonymously. 


When organizational change occurs, and it will because bullying is an unsustainable management style, you'll be remembered and rewarded for your grit.




3. The phony.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, it seemed you couldn't go a week or two without reading a news story about a top executive or CEO who padded their resume or claimed to have an advanced degree that they really didn't.


Even though their career deception was embarrassing when it came out, some of them keep their jobs. Although they did manage to maintain their position, the stigma of deception attached to them will never go away.


Survival tactic: The key when working or dealing with a phony is truth and integrity. Deception is not a sustainable practice in work or life. The truth will set you free.


Related: 7 signs a geat employee might be a bad boss


4. The ghost.

This is the kind of boss that you get along famously with but they have one fatal flaw: they’re barely in the office. Some might even disappear for 18 months straight on a completely unannounced “vacation”, leaving everyone to fill in the gap.



They never respond to conference calls, emails, attend meetings, and eventually, you’d have to serve as an emergency surrogate.


Then one day he winds up mysteriously in your office door announcing his resignation. Great.


Survival tactic: When your boss is MIA, you have to step-up and be the face for the group. It will stretch you but a key trait of a leader is being self directed, knowing what needs to be done and then getting it done.


While there are many types of bad bosses, there are also many types of tactics to not only survive but thrive under them.


Related: How to manipulate your awful boss into working for you


Copyright 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been done by the editor.

Photos from Flickr (Ricardo Cevallos and tanelviksi)

Latest Articles