The 6 Traits of Idiot Bosses

In career life you typically come across three types of bad bosses:
(1) Crappy managers that are smart
(2) Good managers that are A-holes
(3) A-hole managers that are idiots

While all of these ‘bad bosses’ possess the ability to make your life miserable, idiot bosses (type 3) can be particularly troublesome to work for. Not only are they horribly inept at managing people, they also possess an uncanny ability to defy logic and common sense.

Not sure how to spot one? Fear not. We’ve compiled a list to help you identify the traits to look out for.

1. They love the word synergy
: We’ve all heard it. The dreaded “S word”. For those unlucky enough to have an idiot boss, you’ve probably heard it more than you care to remember.

2. They drink fanciful, caffeine beverages: I know this one is a little weird, but it’s true. Trust me. Every idiot boss I’ve ever come across has had an insatiable appetite for complicated coffee orders. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it goes something like this: “I’ll have a Grande…no make that a Venti cafe latte with a half non-fat milk, one and a quarter sugar, a twist of cinnamon, and a hint of whipped cream…oh, and don’t forget to give me extra napkins.”

Note: If you order this drink and are not a boss – there is a high likelihood that you are at the very least pretentious.

3. They want to start a company blog
: In a perfect world only the managers that understand blogging would want to launch a company blog. Unfortunately, it is almost exclusively idiot bosses who muster the motivation to suggest one.

4. They plagiarize management books with regularity: “I just came up with this great idea over the weekend. Wouldn’t it be great if we could organize our supply-chain such that we only ship out products just after we make them. The name I came up with for this system is ‘just-in-time’ inventory.”

5. They have a marketing degree: Of all the disciplines in academia, marketing programs have an uncanny knack for producing idiot bosses. Note: I have a marketing degree so I think I am at liberty to point this one out.

6. They crap bullshit but can’t smell it:
Do I really need to elaborate on this one?

I’m sure I haven’t covered them all, so let your suggestions be known in the comments.

  • Adam, it’s not only ‘synergy’. Let’s hear it for Outstanding! and Phenomenal!

  • This falls under your #1: Saying or writing “utilize” instead of “use”. If a manager rejects perfectly good, simple English words that clearly convey their meaning in favor of technobabble buzzwords, he’s an idiot.

    Or “make sure we’re all on the same page.” I’m reading Umberto Eco novels on the plane to business meetings while you’re reading “Rise of the Creative Class” and “What Color is Your Parachute?” back in the office and sending me to business meetings. Trust me — we will never be on the same page. But yes, since it worries you so much, I do understand what you are saying and we do have the same information on this topic. Thank you for playing.

  • Rob

    Pretty much describes 6 out of 7 of my last bosses…

  • Disgusted

    I work for a large corporation. In our new corporate policies, all employees are urged to “Think and act entrepreneurially” and to “take ownership,” but my pay has not increased.


  • dave

    I’m tired of hearing “leverage”

  • N

    Why can’t we have meetings or conferences or conventions or even summits anymore? Why must every gathering be a “convening”?

  • Robert

    When did “dialogue” become a verb?

  • LC

    “Tweek” is it even a word and why do my bosses feel the need that everything needs to be “tweeked”?

  • mary

    Synergy, Outstanding and Phenomenal those are great examples.
    My bosses can’t just do things “Starting now”
    Everything has to be “Going Forward”
    And we always have to remember to “Put our Aces in their Places!!”

  • karla

    While my boss is ok, (pretty awesome, in fact) there is an idiot boss in our company that I just can’t understand WHY he is in a position of power. He is roundly acknowledged as an idiot, and works in our equivalent of the Scranton office…out of sight, not so much out of mind as he won’t SHUT UP!
    He LOVES powerpoint and the term ‘action item’. As in, ‘Let’s make that an action item’.

  • Rob

    My boss is called the President. Every morning I can about guess with 99% accuracy which emails I send him will be ignored and of course any email with more than one question will for sure get ignored. He’s more insecure than a dog who’s been beaten by his owner. I can’t believe people like that can keep their job. Believe me I know the higher up in the company you go, the more dumb and lazy they get. Crooked corporate insiders – the norm! I make the same $ today as I did when hired years ago, maybe I’m the dumb one. I’m leaving next year, apparently that’s the only way to get a raise, move on.