There’s an entire library of how-to books out there, an endless scroll of Google search results and an array of courses and conferences designed to make you a better leader. But, really, good management is a lot like Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of obscenity: You know it when you see it. There’s a huge difference between the kind of boss you’d follow into the gates of hell (or at the very least, into the office on a Saturday), and the one you wouldn’t accept a cupcake from, much less instructions. It’s a rare thing to find someone in a position of power with some combination of emotional intelligence, vision, respect and manners who can get people to help realize his or her vision. More often, you find someone who just knows how to demand that stuff gets done on time. 

I had a boss (now deceased) from whom I took a pay cut just for the chance to be around him and the team he’d built. I had another with whom I couldn’t even see out the month and whose name still fills me with dread. When in the presence of the former, I always felt smarter, funnier and ready to take on the world; around the latter, I felt like an idiot, which was probably his intent.

The few times I’ve been in a position of authority, I’ve tried to cultivate the qualities I admired in my best managers and bosses. I tried (and failed) to fight up, never down; I asked for what I wanted directly without subterfuge or passive aggressive tactics; and I tried to be fun, which mostly led to the younger staff calling me “Dad Jokes” on account of my, well, dad jokes. Was I a good boss? Probably not, but you’d have to ask the people I worked with. I got fired from the first gig (closed door H.R. meeting, locked out of my computer, all but whisked away by security), which was at an alt-weekly where I held the grade-inflated title of Online Managing Editor at the tender age of 27; I quit the second one (not before foolishly trusting a colleague who told our boss to start looking for my replacement tout de suite), where I was News Editor of a now-defunct news and culture blog. 

What I learned from both of these experiences is that it’s easy to hate a boss, but difficult to be one. With that in mind, we offer this clip-and-save guide to the kinds of bosses you may encounter and some suggestions for working with them. Are you one of these bosses? Read along, too (or have an underling summarize it). You just may learn a thing or two.

 

 
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THE YELLER

What's the Deal:
The Yeller (aka, Stressball, aka, Neck Veins) had it tough as a kid. It's never easy being the smartest person in your school and yet—and yet—no one listened. Not only didn't they listen, they had the temerity to mock him, push him around, and take everything that was rightly his. Fools! They listen now, that's for sure, because The Yeller doesn't just lead, he commands. He runs this shit now and he's not afraid to let everyone know it.

Favorite Book:
The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand

Power Tools:
Gchat; pencils (mostly for cracking dramatically).

Power Play:
Asking for a closed door one-on-one where he "forgets" to close the door so everyone in the office can hear him buttoning down an underling.

Role Models:
Scott Rudin; Rahm Emanuel.

Signature Quote:
"Coffee's for closers only."

Tips for Surviving:
Short term: Whiskey with friends. Long term: Escape.

 
 
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THE GHOST

What's the Deal:
The Ghost (aka, Who?, aka, She Still Works Here?) is the ultimate unicorn: rarely seen, never caught, but somehow still magical. This person doesn’t seem to exist on this plain, not to mention your office, what with so many conferences to attend, in-laws overseas, opportunities to “check out” remote offices in other states, weekend house renovations, and a million other reasons to never actually show up on a given day.

Favorite Book:
Unknown since office is either mostly empty or hermetically sealed and guarded by an assistant.

Power Tools:
Short, typo-riddled emails sent on the way to the airport.

Power Play:
Calling a Google Hangout meeting and still somehow not being entirely present.

Role Models:
Houdini; Pierre Omidyar

Signature Quote:
Unknown since no one is even sure if she’s ever contributed her two cents to anything.

Tips for Surviving:
Tolerance combined with bafflement.

 
 
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THE DEN MOTHER

What's the Deal:
The Den Mother loves you. You know this because she tells you. Often. She’s fiercely protective of her charges and she won’t hesitate to punch up or circle the wagons to ensure her babies are safe. While these qualities are admirable, you also run the risk of falling outside her largesse or being cast into the fires of hell if you break her heart by leaving her (never the company, her) to do your own thing.

Favorite Book:
I’m OK, You’re OK, by Thomas Anthony Harris

Power Tools:
Promises; blood oaths.

Power Play:
Threatening to quit if management messes with her team.

Role Models:
Norma Rae; Michael Corleone

Signature Quote:
“Have I ever lied to you?”

Tips for Surviving:
Loyalty.

 
 
   

THE DELEGATOR

What's the Deal:
The Delegator has never met a task he couldn’t pass along to someone else. It’s unclear if he even knows how to check his voice mail or use a computer, but somehow he hits every deadline with the “help” of others. He’s really good at saying thank you and repaying your kindness with yet more responsibility and another opportunity to do his work for him.

Favorite Book:
Cliff’s Notes

Power Tools:
Suspiciously empty shoulder bag; sheepish grins; mind control (probably).

Power Play:
You.

Role Models:
Former President George W. Bush; Former Texas Governor George W. Bush

Signature Quote:
“Can you do a favor?”

Tips for Surviving:
Early on: Good boundaries; Later on: Strategically employed “no”s.

 
 
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THE YES MAN

What's the Deal:
The Yes Man (aka, Sure!) leads by consensus, up and down. Every idea is a good one; every project is the best thing to be doing at this moment. Why choose anything when you can throw everything at the wall and see what sticks, right? You don’t agree? Forget it, we can describe The Yes Man your way.

Favorite Book:
The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peele

Power Tools:
Enthusiasm; a goldfish’s memory.

Power Play:
Joyfully discarding a months-long project and trying something completely different. Again.

Role Models:
His yoga instructor; the most recent TED speaker he saw

Signature Quote:
“It’s all about flow”

Tips for Surviving:
Don’t recommend anything unless you wanna pivot. Yet again.

 
 
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THE AMBASSADOR

What's the Deal:
The Ambassador (aka, Our Link with History) is the oldest person in the office and functions in some kind of emeritus role. He’s seen things and he’ll tell you about them. He’s narrowly missed out on inventing important stuff (like email) or co-founding companies (like Starbucks) and he’ll tell you about that. He’s met people (like Nelson Rockefeller) and he’ll tell you about that. He’s got so many stories to share, it makes sense that he doesn't have a heckuva lot of time to work. But he comes in every day and does… something.

Favorite Book:
The Prince, by Machiavelli

Power Tools:
Whiskey bottle in his lower desk drawer; eyes wet with nostalgia

Power Play:
Napping during meetings.

Role Models:
Rupert Murdoch; Jack Welch

Signature Quote:
“That reminds me of…”

Tips for Surviving:
Stamina: You’re young, he’s old. You’ll win this one in the end.

 
 
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THE CHEERLEADER

What's the Deal:
For The Cheerleader, everything—even ordering lunch—is about the team. Can our lunch goals align here? Can we meet in the middle? Every conversation is a chance for team-building and energy-harnessing. Every offsite is a retreat and a few beers after work can be a way to plan the next five years. Every day is a new chance to win if we work together, you guys! OK, good talk. Go get ‘em.

Favorite Book:
Fast Company

Power Tools:
Energy (E-N-E-R-G-Y!); Strategy (S-T-R-A-T-E-G-Y!!); High fives (H-I-G-H F-I-V-E-S!!!)

Power Play:
Somehow convincing everyone that it’s about the team, not the project.

Role Models:
Band of Brothers; Former Yale Cheerleader George W. Bush

Signature Quote:
“Yes we can!”

Tips for Surviving:
Just be super surly and maybe she’ll get the hint.

 

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE NOVEMBER 24TH MONDAY NEWSLETTER:

The Remains of the Day fastcompany.com Apple isn't the only place where people think different. In fact, increasingly, I've seen that folks across industries are interested in new ways of thinking about work. And in looking freshly at these ideas, some are even advocating that we can be more productive by working less. A shorter workday? That's something I would totally sign up —just as soon as I wake up from this productivity-boosting nap. —@macabeem

The Remains of the Day
fastcompany.com

Apple isn't the only place where people think different. In fact, increasingly, I've seen that folks across industries are interested in new ways of thinking about work. And in looking freshly at these ideas, some are even advocating that we can be more productive by working less. A shorter workday? That's something I would totally sign up —just as soon as I wake up from this productivity-boosting nap.

@macabeem

Inside the Phenomenal Rise of WeWork forbes.com Coworking spaces feel like a modern day take on the old Main Street independent business. I’ve always been attracted to the idea of a Main Street shop where you know your neighbors, refer business and share ideas. Apparently, I’m not alone. —@keelinlinehan

Inside the Phenomenal Rise of WeWork
forbes.com

Coworking spaces feel like a modern day take on the old Main Street independent business. I’ve always been attracted to the idea of a Main Street shop where you know your neighbors, refer business and share ideas. Apparently, I’m not alone.

@keelinlinehan

How to Live Like a Motherfucker Amy Selwyn Work and the workplace has taken on such a vastly different shape than ever before. Technology has allowed us to live in places that allow us to connect with the rest of the world but also connect with nature at the same time. There is decentralization without giving much up which is truly awesome. —Michael Maher  

How to Live Like a Motherfucker
Amy Selwyn

Work and the workplace has taken on such a vastly different shape than ever before. Technology has allowed us to live in places that allow us to connect with the rest of the world but also connect with nature at the same time. There is decentralization without giving much up which is truly awesome.

Michael Maher

 

Everyday Wares for the Modern Workplace Presented by Taylor Stitch We believe your clothes should transition seamlessly with you from your workday to wherever else life may take you. A timeless fit and aesthetic mixed with simple design means that you will be able to grab these products out of your closet without thinking. —Taylor Stitch

Everyday Wares for the Modern Workplace
Presented by Taylor Stitch

We believe your clothes should transition seamlessly with you from your workday to wherever else life may take you. A timeless fit and aesthetic mixed with simple design means that you will be able to grab these products out of your closet without thinking.

Taylor Stitch