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The 4 Boss Types – And How to Manage Them

We all have a bad boss story. The one who expected you to be married to the company. The one who NEVER stopped talking. The one who seemed way out of their depth. The one who played favourites.

The list could go on and on (and on…). Many of the problems we encounter with our bosses could be solved with better communication – but to communicate well with someone you have to understand them, or at least what drives them. Sometimes, when dealing with a bad boss, this can feel like an impossible task.

But what if you had a cheat sheet?

A recent Fast Company article explored the four leadership traits that are most likely to occur in bosses. By getting to know these leadership archetypes, you can begin to understand how to communicate better with all types of bosses. In fact, this insider look at how to manage your own boss could even accelerate your career.

We take a look at the four boss types outlined in the article, here:

1. The Outgoing Boss

Sociable. Extroverted. Relationship-focused. Outgoing bosses are all about people. This means they are often great at bringing teams together and communicating key messages. But when an outgoing boss goes too far they can be perceived as arrogant, loud and attention-seeking. If you’ve ever had a manager who wouldn’t let you get a word in edgeways and was always the life and soul of the office Christmas party, you’ve probably worked with an outgoing boss

How to manage an outgoing boss:

One of the most important steps to take with an outgoing boss is to set clear boundaries. Schedule quiet time in your calendar and don’t be afraid to be clear and direct about your preferred communication styles and times. Also, don’t be afraid to encourage this type of boss to give others the limelight. Suggest that others take centre stage at client presentations or industry events to allow less forward colleagues time to shine. This type of leader isn’t intentionally sucking attention away from others, in fact, they often don’t notice they are doing it.

2. The Driven Boss

The driven boss is all about winning. They are high energy and deeply driven which makes them very successful at overcoming obstacles and making things happen. When you’re up against a tight deadline or seemingly impossible task – you want a driven leader on your side. However, leaders with such a strong sense of ambition can become overbearing and highly dominant, overworking their people and creating tension.

How to manage a driven boss:

A driven boss can be a huge advantage in situations where you’re trying to make things happen. Seek their help when you’re trying to secure funding for a new project or when you want to get leadership approval for a new idea; their tenacious working style will help you succeed. Look at ways to align or connect your goals with theirs, when they feel like you’re working towards common aims, they will go all out to make it happen.

3. The Disciplined Boss

Disciplined bosses are details people. Natural organisers, they are the leaders companies go to when they need to create efficient processes and ensure complex operations run smoothly. But too much focus on the ‘small stuff’ can lead to disciplined leaders becoming micromanagers who fail to create space for innovation and curiosity within their teams.

How to manage a disciplined boss:

Take advantage of their attention to detail – their input on your most complex problems will be invaluable and finding opportunities for them to wield their planning skills will feed their sense of self. But don’t let their total process focus strip away your need for flexibility. Ask them if you can build room for innovative exploration and creative sessions into their detailed plan.

4. The Curious Boss

Curious bosses think big, really big. They have a serious appetite for everything new and innovative and they are not afraid to take risks to achieve their goals. This makes them hugely successful in leading entrepreneurial companies or teams. However, this constant need for the new and the fresh can distract them from important work that needs completing now, and it can be tough for workers to keep up with their fast-mo stream of fresh ideas.

How to manage a curious boss:

Harness their creative mind to identify new opportunities or ideas that you hadn’t considered by asking them questions and making them part of conversations about key projects. But be prepared to work hard to keep them grounded by being a voice of practicality and reason. They will appreciate you putting their big ideas into context.

What type of boss do you have? Or do you recognise yourself in the descriptions above? Head over to our LinkedIn page for more work insights and join the conversation on the latest recruitment and career trends.​