There are 7 types of bosses, says workplace culture expert—only 1 is worth working for, or trying to become
Some bosses are good. Others only seem good at first, and you can use this guide to differentiate between the two, says workplace culture expert Tom Gimbel.
Gimbel, the CEO of Chicago-based employment agency LaSalle Network, says the type of boss you have — or are — can have a huge impact on you or your employees' career success: Good bosses can help employees grow and be happy at work, while bad bosses can make the day-to-day experience a nightmare.
"There's an expression: 'People join companies, but they quit bosses," Gimbel tells CNBC Make It. "That isn't too far removed from the truth."
Eighty-two percent of American workers said they'd potentially quit their job because of a bad manager, in a survey released in January by employment screening services company GoodHire.
Knowing the early signs can keep you from getting into trouble in the first place. Gimbel says there are seven types of bosses, with one clearly better than the rest: the accountable but caring boss, who pushes you to perform at a high level while genuinely trying to support your wellbeing.
Here are Gimbel's seven types of bosses, from most to least common:
- Grinder boss
- Motivator boss
- Ghost boss
- Narcissist boss
- Want-to-be-your-BFF boss
- Accountable but caring boss
- Volcano boss
A grinder boss constantly works hard, which can definitely be a positive. But they can make you feel like you have to perform at their level and pace, or else "you're a subpar performer," Gimbel says. Ultimately, those bosses are never satisfied with what others do, he adds: You might find yourself overworking to meet their sky-high expectations or facing criticism for not doing enough.
A motivator boss has some great leadership qualities, Gimbel notes: They encourage you when you're struggling, pat you on the back when you accomplish something and always offer you support when you need it. They're also optimistic and always want you to "look on the bright side," he adds.
That's not bad, but constant optimism and words of encouragement "may get a little bit old sometimes," Gimbel says. Motivator bosses can sometimes make it hard to acknowledge problems or bad news, because of how positive they are.
A ghost boss leads very poorly because they're just never around, Gimbel says.
Usually, they're not up-to-date with their team's work and aren't available when their employees need them. They can't provide useful feedback that will point their team in the right direction, which makes it difficult for employees to navigate their work.
A ghost boss can also harm their employees' career growth because they fail to be a mentor who they can learn and seek help from, Gimbel adds.
A narcissist boss only really worries about themselves and how they feel, according to Gimbel. They base their actions on what will benefit them the most, making the needs of their larger team an afterthought. As a result, their employees likely don't feel cared for.
Another defining factor is that they love making everything about them, Gimbel adds: They enjoy flattery and will take credit for good ideas or other measures of success.
A "want-to-be-your-BFF" boss values being liked by others. Socializing at work certainly isn't bad, but Gimbel says those bosses prioritize making friends over properly leading and keeping a team accountable. They can distract you from your work and stunt the progress of an entire team because they care so much about becoming "BFFs" with everyone around them, he says.
Accountable but caring boss
The best bosses balance being accountable and caring, Gimbel says: They give you honest feedback about your work, whether it's good or bad, and challenge you to perform to the best of your ability.
They also genuinely care about their employees as human beings, he adds. That could involve understanding when an employee is having a rough day or dealing with a personal issue, and trying to accommodate as best as they can.
Finding or becoming that type of boss is difficult because very few people perfectly fit every part of this definition, Gimbel says — but a boss who at least tries to emulate those qualities is what you should look for or strive to become.
A volcano boss is similar to a ghost boss because "they aren't really into the work you're doing" and fail to guide or advise you along the way, according to Gimbel.
The difference: They "erupt, just blow up" on employees when they're not satisfied with a task or assignment, Gimbel says. Those bosses don't realize that it's largely their fault when a finished assignment is far from what they want.
Luckily, these bosses are the least common, he adds. Your chances of encountering — or becoming — them are quite low.
Sign up now: Get smarter about your money and career with our weekly newsletter
Harvard expert: The 5 types of bosses you never want to work for—or become
This CEO has 1 weekly activity that gives him the 'very best ideas'—and you can do it, too