Everyone, at some point in their career, has had a boss from hell. The person that crushes your spirit on a daily basis and makes, going to work, one of the things you hate most.

The exceptional ones will inspire and encourage you. They believe in your talents and will go to bat for you when it's most needed.

My boss from hell was only my boss for six months. The worst six months of my working life.

In the short amount of time that I was under their leadership, I lost years worth of confidence. And, as a result, I completely switched career paths following that job.

That's what a demoralizing leader will do to you--they can ruin your career. And, if not recognized early enough, it may take years to recover, if ever.

While it might be an extreme comparison, working under a "boss from hell" can be likened to suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

Here are some things you should look for:

They micromanage you

They question your every move and never let you complete anything on your own. Their lack of trust ultimately drives you towards needing to get their approval for every small task you need to complete.

They throttle your growth

While they may outwardly express their willingness to help grow your career, anytime you feel like your getting closer to a promotion, they throw doubt and obstacles in your way.

In true psychopath form, these leaders can not accept their underlings becoming more successful then themselves--in both salary and status.

They take credit for your work

One could argue that any manager is only as good as the people that work for them. While this is true, terrible leaders will take their employees work and pass it off as their own. Worse yet, they have no qualms with throwing their staff under the bus if the work is sub par.

Again, their only true motivation is themselves.

They come in late and leave early, but expect you to arrive early and leave late

They are the definition of, "do as I say, not as I do".

They believe that their experience and status has earned them the right to do as they please and they have no problem telling you that.

They may even tell you that, someday, when you're at their level, you can do the same. Which of course would never come true under their leadership.

They lead by fear

They are incapable of leading by example. They have nothing to offer in the way of motivation or inspiration. They've manipulated their way to the top and are in constant fear of losing their position.

The only way they know how to lead is by fear.

They rarely, if ever, give you accolades

Since they know they can control you with fear, they have a hard time giving you any recognition when you've done something good.

They believe that acknowledging accomplishments is a sign of weakness and you won't work as hard after you receive them.

They demoralize you and your self-worth

They don't feel like employment is a two-way street. They believe that being employed by them is a privilege. And, if it weren't for them, you would be on the streets.

They remind you constantly how tough it would be to get another job and that you should feel lucky to even be employed.

They take away your freedom of choice

One of the ways in which they micromanage your behaviors is by removing your ability to make independent choices. As long as you feel you can't make a decision on your own, they feel they can maintain control.

If it turns out the decision was bad, it will undoubtedly be because you had given them bad information.

They're indecisive and blame you for missing deadlines

Decisions are the one thing that they are judged on by their superiors, therefore, the longer they can delay them, the more time they are safe.

Because of their indecisiveness, projects get delayed. However, when it comes time to make a deadline, they still expect you to hit it.

They are driven by not losing instead of winning

Just like in sports, there are those that play to win and those that play to not lose. The former takes risk and accepts challenges. The latter does just enough to squeak by.

A terrible boss will stunt your potential growth with their own fear of losing.

They belittle you in front of others

The only thing more demoralizing then getting scolded as an adult, is getting scolded in front of other adults--especially when they are your coworkers.

This is the ultimate display of controlling by fear for these leaders and they use it at will.


If you're working for someone that fits any or all of the above, it may be time to run for the hills. Your future is at stake.

If you've ever worked for a "boss from hell", tell us what they did in the comments below.