, ,

What Are The Differences Between Good and Bad Bosses?

Clearly there are differences between good and bad bosses, but what exactly are they? Sometimes understanding these differences can help to bridge the gap between the two. This article covers six situations that managers often encounter. With each situation, generally good bosses tend to operate in one way while bad bosses take a totally different direction.

When they make a mistake.

Bad bosses typically never admit when they are wrong – instead, they blame their mistakes on other people. These kinds of leaders won’t take ownership of their mistakes, instead they seek to excuse them. Insecure managers will let mistakes keep them down for a long time as they lack confidence in their abilities.

Good bosses will reflect on their actions and admit when they are wrong. They take ownership of their mistakes and apologize when necessary. These managers will learn from their errors and work to prevent them from happening again. Great bosses are resilient, which allows them to move forward after a setback.

When it comes to employee performance.

Inadequate managers will avoid having conversations with employees about their performance. They do not make time to meet with employees to establish expectations and they usually skip performance reviews. When it comes to employees who underperform, bad bosses are too timid or indifferent to have challenging accountability conversations. Bad managers let poor performance go unaddressed and great performance go unacknowledged.

Good bosses communicate clear expectations with each employee. They also monitor performance and provide timely, pointed feedback. They confidently conduct performance reviews with employees to identify areas that need improvement while offering support and resources. These managers recognize great performance then reward employees in meaningful ways. Instead of making assumptions about an employee’s poor performance, great managers ask questions, remove barriers, provide mentoring and training, and hold the employee accountable.

How they respond to negative feedback.

Bad bosses respond poorly when given even the smallest amount of negative feedback. They take criticism very personally without regarding the impact of their accused actions. When receiving negative input, they tend to get irrationally offended, shut down or explode with anger. Poor managers become consumed with the criticism, unable to learn from it. Or they become unmoved by the critique, unwilling to grow from it. These bosses often defend their poor leadership qualities instead of admitting they have areas that need improvement.

Great bosses make a habit of routinely gathering feedback about themselves from employees, peers and managers. They want to know the good and the bad, so they ask direct questions about their leadership abilities and skills. These managers use critiques to help them become better leaders. They can roll with the punches and not let negative feedback keep them down.

How they motivate.

Bad supervisors motivate with fear. They rely on their position, rank, grade, or title to get people to do the work. They tell employees what to do, how to do it and expect no questions to be asked.

Excellent bosses motivate by inspiring and empowering their workforce. They do not use their level of authority to motivate employees. Great managers strive to define the purpose of the team’s work so employees are inspired by the impact they will be making. They make employees feel like they are making a difference in the organization. Good leaders show that they value and appreciate their employees.

How they handle bad behavior.

Bad managers allow toxic behaviors to occur in the office on a routine basis. They might not personally care for the conduct that is taking place, but they choose to let it be. These supervisors prefer not to confront such behavior because they don’t know how to, they don’t care, they worry about retaliation, or they do not like conflict.

Good managers are poised to eliminate bad behaviors swiftly and tactically. They know that toxic conduct will quickly create a negative environment for everyone. Great bosses meet with the individual who is acting poorly and skillfully correct the behavior. If things do not improve, they follow official misconduct procedures to formally reprimand the individual.

When it comes to developing solutions and new ideas.

Ineffective leaders believe their ideas and solutions are the best. They are not interested in seeking other perspectives or ideas. Poor managers are always the ones with the loudest voice in the room. They sit at the head of the table and dominate the conversation. They make it clear that their opinion is the only one that matters.

Good leaders create an environment that encourages other viewpoints and perspectives. They look for ways to foster diversity of thought and embrace new ideas. These managers do not come up with all the solutions, but they inspire employees to think innovatively and utilize creative problem-solving skills.


Evidently there are clear differences between good and bad bosses. Understanding these differences and discussing them will go a long way in helping all managers grow, develop and improve.

You may also be interested in 8 Things You Might Be Doing That Are Negatively Impacting Your Employees and Positive Leadership Makes a Big Impact.

Tessie Davenport has served as a leader in the Department of Defense for the past ten years. Her breadth of experience includes creating successful teams, coaching, mentoring and leading development programs. She has a B.A.S. in Information and Computer Security, a M.S. in Intelligence Management and is pursuing a Graduate Certificate in Organizational Management. She hopes to inspire new leaders and experienced ones by offering practical ideas to help them build positive cultures and grow their people. Tessie is happily married with three dogs and a cat. She loves to travel, hike, kayak, and explore.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Avatar photo Nicole Blake Johnson

Thank you for clearly laying out the differences between good bosses and bad bosses. Employee evaluations are a regular occurrence, but it’s also necessary for managers to look at themselves, ask questions and get feedback. Very insightful, Tessie! Thank you.