A toy dinosaur depicting a tyrant bossHave you ever worked for a tyrant boss?

I have and let me tell you, it is not a pleasant experience.

You know the type – the bully, tantrum thrower, manipulator, micromanager…the one that gets under the skin, undermines self-confidence, kills motivation and affects your health. You doubt yourself, your competence and think it is your fault.


Trust me, it’s them, not you.

A boss with any one of these traits is difficult. Imagine what happens when a boss has one or more of these traits?

Essentially you have three options:

  • Do nothing – put your head down, do the work and accept the status quo
  • Quit – update your resume and start your job-hunt
  • Change – dig in and change your work environment

Let’s face it, if you do nothing, then nothing changes and your well-being remains at risk. You can look for another job but be mindful not to jump at the first opportunity out of desperation (the “out of the frying pan, into the fire” analogy).

Or you can work to change your circumstances.

In any event, whether you choose to remain status-quo, start a job-hunt or effect a change, always have an updated resume on hand.

Three common tyrant boss types:

Master Manipulator

These sods appear to get away with murder. They are adept at ingratiating themselves with their superiors and HR. From the top down, they appear to do no wrong. But from the bottom up, it’s a different story.


The self-important boss with the inflated ego – it’s all about them, demanding compliance and servitude. It’s not uncommon for this type to take credit for the hard work of others. The façade is merely an attempt to hide their insecurities.


No one is able to do the job as well as they can. They dictate exactly how a task should be done and do not promote autonomy in their staff.

What can you do to in this situation?

The status quo is not acceptable, you are not ready to start job hunting, so you decide to try to change your situation. Here are a few proactive actions to consider:

1. Stand up for Yourself

Stay professional, respectful, and calm. Address the situation with your boss. If you can, bullet-point what you want to address ahead of time and be specific. Do not bring emotions into the conversation, especially if your boss lacks empathy.

2. Communicate

Understand your boss’s communication style and communicate in the style that is effective with them. With micromanagers and manipulators, document your interactions, get clear instructions and provide them with exactly what they asked for. I recommend that you diarize conversations and get your boss’s agreement on the path forward or task at hand.

3. Be Solution Oriented

Bring solutions forward rather than problems. Think through an issue to provide a potential solution to show that you have taken the time to consider a path forward rather than presenting a problem for them to solve. This helps in two ways – it gives you accountability in recommending a path forward and it allows your boss to provide an opinion and ultimately make the decision.

4. Network

Grow your network. Increase your visibility within the company and externally. As visibility grows, you have a better chance of movement within your current organization or finding that better position elsewhere.


Every situation is unique. There is an abundance of articles and resources on how to deal with a tyrant boss. In the end, your situation will be unique and only you can decide on the best course of action.

When I first encountered this situation, I didn’t understand what a tyrant boss was – I thought it was me, that it was my fault. Unwilling to remain unhappy, I searched for a solution and came across a spiritual-based book – Awake at Work. It gave a much better understanding of what I was up against. The author’s wisdom helped me decide that it was in my best interest to remove myself from that environment.

Working for a tyrant boss is not easy and changing your work environment may not be possible. You may be able to insulate yourself for the short term, but in the end, a job change may be the only way to escape the tyrant boss.

Have strength and be assured that you are not the first one to go through this.

I’d love to hear your stories, insights and solutions that have worked for you in dealing with a tyrant boss. Please email or leave me a comment below.


As a footnote, here are some additional resources to check out:

The Asshole Survival Guide: How to Deal with People Who Treat You Like Dirt

As a follow-up to his clever and witty book – The No Asshole Rule, Stanford University professor Robert Sutton starts with a diagnosis to determine what you are dealing with. From there, he provides field-tested, evidence-based, and sometimes surprising strategies for dealing with the rude, impolite, irritating, unpleasant or just plain incompetent.

A Survival Guide for Working with Bad Bosses

Published in 2005, the author provides readers with practical advice for coping with managers and supervisors who are mean, incompetent, unethical and worse.

My Way or the Highway – The Micromanagement Survival Guide

Harvey Chambers provides real-world examples of micromanagement in action, analysis of the damage it does, and advice on what to do.

Coping with Toxic Managers, Subordinates…and Other Difficult People

Psychiatrist and organizational consultant Dr. Roy Lubit shows you how to develop your emotional intelligence and protect yourself and your organization from the destructive impact of toxic managers.


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The Tyrant Boss and You – Is It Worth It?
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