How to Spot an Abusive Boss

Things have a funny way of working out.  In yesterday’s post I mentioned that members of my career mentoring site know that I am a big believer in lifelong learning and that reading widely is a great way to become a lifelong learner.

Recently, someone signed my up for a free subscription to Sports Illustrated.  The current issue has an article about abusive coaches.  The article mentioned an Ohio State Professor, Ben Tepper who has done a lot of work on abusive leadership in the workplace.  That caught my eye.

I emailed Dr. Tepper and told him that I was interested in his Abusive Supervision Scale.  He responded immediately with a scholarly article that lists the most common identifying characteristics of abusive leaders.

This is a perfect example of what I mean by reading widely to become a lifelong learner.  I am interested in sports, but more interested in helping people create successful and fulfilling lives and careers.  The Sports Illustrated article applies the Abusive Supervision Scale to college coaches.  I think it is a great way to identify abusive bosses.  Pretty cool huh?

So here are the behaviors associated with abusive bosses.  Abusive Bosses…

  • Ridicule you.
  • Tell you that your thoughts or feelings are stupid.
  • Give you the silent treatment.
  • Put you down in front of others.
  • Invade your privacy.
  • Frequently remind you of your past mistakes and failures.
  • Don’t give you credit for completing jobs that require a lot of effort.
  • Blame you to save themselves from being embarrassed.
  • Break promised they make.
  • Express anger towards you when they are angry for another reason.
  • Make negative comments about you to others.
  • Are rude to you.
  • Don’t allow you to interact with your coworkers.
  • Tell you that you are incompetent.
  • Lie to you.

If you have a boss who is guilty of one or more of these behaviors frequently it might be time to begin looking for another job.  You should never have to sacrifice your dignity just to keep a job.

Your career mentor,


PS: I write this blog to help people create the life and career success they want and deserve. Now I’m going one step further. I’ve created a membership site in which I’ve pulled together my best thoughts on success. And, as a reader of this blog, you can become a member for free. Just go to to claim your free membership. You’ll be joining a vibrant and growing community of success minded professionals. I hope to see you there.


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