Whether your bad boss has the demanding ice queen persona of Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada聽or they鈥檝e got seriously questionable habits, like Mad Men鈥檚 Don Draper, the end result is always the same: pure misery. Now, one researcher聽is looking into just what makes a bad boss so rotten. Before you assume your boss just hates you or become SO unhappy at work that you聽quit your job, see if your boss is a fit for one of the awful manager types聽he found.

Seth M. Spain, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Binghamton University, dives into bad bosses in his newest chapter, aptly titled 鈥Stress, Well-Being and the Dark Side of Leadership,鈥 for聽the ongoing research series,聽Research in Occupational Stress and Well-Being.聽


According to Spain, there are two kinds of bad bosses: dark and dysfunctional. While neither is easy to deal with, if you have a dark boss, run! He classifies 鈥渄ark bosses鈥 as your true nightmare leaders, ones who you can expect to be, 鈥渕ean, abusive and harassing in daily life,鈥 says聽Spain.聽Key characteristics of these bosses include Machiavellianism (basically thinking doing shady sh*t to keep power is okay), narcissism and psychopathy, topped off with lots聽of moral shortcomings. Thankfully, these traits don鈥檛 always spell doom for your career, as Spain notes that narcissism can actually inspire聽leadership development, since employees must shine if they want to be noticed. Of course, these benefits are often outweighed by the negative impact of an unsupportive and unproductive work environment.


Meanwhile, Spain characterizes 鈥渄ysfunctional bosses鈥 as well-intentioned leaders who are in over their head and simply not very good at their jobs. While 鈥渄ark鈥 bosses exhibit聽destructive behavior on purpose, 鈥渄ysfunctional鈥 bosses聽can enable destructive behavior by accident with聽ineffective leadership. If you have a dysfunctional boss, you don鈥檛 need to be looking over your shoulder in fear, but you do聽need to be ready to pick up their slack, which can result in way more, often unpredictable, stressful situations.

Now that science has nailed the two bad-boss personas and identified them as a major cause of workplace anxiety, the next steps are researching the most effective ways of dealing with them.聽In the meantime, newbie bosses looking to avoid聽the 鈥渂ad boss鈥 label should check out聽our must-read advice for first-time managers. In between delegating and leading like a pro, take a few tips from聽Brit + Co鈥榮 2016 Boss Babes for even more leadership inspo.

Have you ever had a bad boss? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know how you handled the situation!

(Photos via Getty)