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Tyrannical bosses get results. They vault over deadlines, whip their employees to high performance, and drag the office toward their quarterly goals. These so-called office dictators often achieve their goals – but at what human cost? According to a survey conducted by Gallup in 2015, a full 50% of studied employees admitted to having previously moved on from a job in order to get away from a toxic boss. Employee Engagement firm TinyPulse further reports that employees with bad managers are 28% more likely to consider moving on from the position than those with good supervisors. Toxic work environments may produce results – for a brief time – but the long-term cost of a stressful work culture will prove costly for companies and workers alike as employees burn out and leave to get away from their tyrannical bosses.

That said, managers can’t afford to be too lax in the office, either. For better or worse, bosses must walk a tightrope balance between friendliness and sternness; the difficult part is identifying when they slip to one side or the other. Below, I’ve listed the tyrannical office behaviors that would-be bosses should steer clear of as leaders.


The best leaders don’t try to be the smartest person in the room. Instead, they accept input from their team members and consider how best to implement team ideas. Dismissing employee ideas and brushing aside employee concerns inevitably leads to a pattern of resentment and bitterness in the office, and produces subpar results at the expense of team morale.

Overreacting to employee errors

Flying off the handle when Brenda from Communications sends out an email with incorrect information will not fix the problem at hand. Stay calm and address the problem in a logical, progressive fashion. If the error is serious and requires disciplinary action, handle the situation according to company policy. Never reprimand underperforming employees in front of their coworkers, as it will lead to a toxic work environment and lessen goodwill.

Blaming others for mistakes

Take responsibility for your errors. Trying to pass the blame onto an employee or coworker will fuel office resentment and drag out the situation longer than needed. Moreover, taking responsibility will foster goodwill and respect from employees, and ensure that the team knows that they can trust you to be fair in stressful situations.

Showing favoritism to certain employees

Maybe you go out to drinks with one of your employees and avoid another on your off-hours. However, personal feelings should never interfere in office business; showing favoritism or bias during work demonstrates a lack of respect for the team as a whole and allows resentment to simmer during working hours.

Lacking empathy for employee stress

Employees are humans first, and workers second. Bosses who are tyrannical and unsympathetic to their team members’ struggles may end up driving them away. The best bosses are empathetic and aware of the needs of their team members before they end up leaving.