People leave managers, not companies,” is the famous quote from Marcus Buckingham, author of the best-selling business book, First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently.

Toxic bosses are called that for a reason. They are institutional poison and will kill enthusiasm, productivity and create an environment of chaos.

As you progress through your career, a good self-defense is to learn to spot a toxic boss early on and stay clear of their path of destruction. Here are traits to look out for:

Can’t comprehend

Managers must be able to communicate with their team and understand what their team is communicating to them. There are managers that simply can’t comprehend conversations; they distort or have a poor recollection. This leads to unnecessary repetition and a whole lot of explanations that shouldn’t be necessary.

Always right

Bosses that always have to be right, means their subordinates are always wrong. Bosses that constantly tell their team how much smarter they are and why their ideas are the best should be avoided. They will sap your energy and kill your enthusiasm and creativity.

Constantly critical

Critical leaders that only comment on what is wrong, but do not offer any constructive suggestions for improvement have the inability to communicate. For the employee, this can defeat your self-esteem. Go find a good leader who will nurture and coach you for continuous improvement.


Not trusting your team to be the experienced professionals you hired them to be, comes out in micromanagement. Common signs are asking for detailed accounts of how your time is spent during the day, questioning your methods and decisions, over communicating instructions and not allowing subordinates to create their own action plans. In addition to lack of trust, micromanagers are usually perfectionists and no one will ever do anything as good as them. Steer clear!

Always about them

Narcissists need every conversation, task and action to be about them. This is typically a sign of insecurity in their role. They act this way to show others how important and powerful they are. Narcissistic bosses pull powerplays where they say and do whatever they want without caring how their behavior impacts others. They often have a very low moral character and bring others down to their level. Walk away and don’t look back!

They lie

Working for a manager that throws their employees under the bus is an immediate signal to run! Leaders that lie are cowards and don’t know how to address criticism or admit errors. They will cast any blame far away from them, and anyone near them will be left in their path of destruction.

Life is short – make each day count!

If you find yourself in one of these toxic reporting roles, reach out to the experienced recruiting team at the Jarvi Group. We interview both our hiring managers and candidates to ensure a professional and rewarding career is a good fit for everyone.

Jarvi Group

© Jarvi Group

1350 Scribner Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504


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