WORKPLACE / AUG. 10, 2015
version 4, draft 4

Is Your Manager a Coward?

Management is a job that requires a brave face and unwavering confidence. However, managers are warm-blooded men and women with fears of their own, quietly craving the approval of their juniors and their bosses. While most of them manage to put on a brave face, there are those managers whose cowardice is evident, those are generally the managers that kill productivity. If you think your manager’s bravery mask is wearing off, read on for signs that he is a coward:

See Also: Worst Phrases Bad Managers Say to their Employees

1. Delegates the Tough Jobs

Does your manager have other people handle the tough tasks for him? Does he let junior managers issue tough instructions, warnings or follow-up on employees who fail to deliver? A manager who assigns the tough jobs to his juniors is a coward. He enjoys having the position and the benefits that come with being a manager, but he will not take responsibility for his actions.

If you have such a boss, do not let him use you as his pawn. Only accept responsibility if it is in line with your work. If he ever requests you to perform a task that is beyond you, or it’s in any way not in your job description, make sure to decline respectfully.

2. My Boss’ Boss Says

Is your manager the kind of leader who takes instructions from above and implements them directly without evaluating the situation and giving his opinion? A courageous manager will always evaluate every instruction given and give his opinion before implementing. A cowardly leader is afraid of expressing his opinions or challenging instruction. He will blindly follow orders from above and force his employees to do the same.

If you are in such a situation, speak up and suggest changes in line with the task that would work better for your team. Encourage your manager to speak up; you will help him boost his confidence, and think twice about implementing instructions without considering their impact on the team.

3. Is a People Pleaser

Does your manager tell people what they want to hear even when he knows he is lying? Is he the kind of manager who promises to speak to the board only to silence you, but avoids the topic a few days later? Does he say yes to everything you say just to avoid the truth? A manager who cannot stand his ground and will do anything (even compromise his position) to keep people happy is a coward who does not deserve the position.

A people pleaser is poisonous to the team. Do not let his lies blind you, always look for the truth when making decisions. Additionally, confront him when you see him agree with you just for the sake of agreeing. For example, if he agrees to review a document, immediately make a follow-up appointment compelling him to stay true to his word.

4. It Wasn’t Me

A cowardly boss does not take responsibility for his actions. He is a master of the blame game and will shift blame to anyone, including his dog. He lacks the courage to stand up for his team or his mistakes, even when he knows the consequences will not affect his position. He only takes responsibility when things go right.

A boss who cannot stand up for himself or his team does not deserve the position or title. He lacks the leadership responsibility that comes with the job and is often a source of conflict within the team.

5. Points Fingers

A cowardly boss does not appreciate the spirit of teamwork and its contribution to the team. He will point fingers, even when there is no need to, and throw his employees under the bus. He cannot stand up for the team in the face of trouble or speak up for his team. Your team is always misrepresented at the top and other managers know you not as a team, but by your individual mistakes.

Having such a boss is a headache. Help your team understand that you have to stick together since your boss will not be on your side. Cover each other to avoid situations where your manager can point fingers.

6. He is a Green Monster

He is envious of his peers, his bosses and his juniors, and everyone in the company knows about it. Envy in the workplace is a common thing; unfortunately, your boss lets his envy control him and even makes decisions based on his envy. Driven by envy, your manager takes pride in bringing others down and delights at the misfortunes of others, thus de-motivating the team.

Working under an envious manager is difficult. He will take credit for work that is not his and go to any extreme to bring you down as a team. An envious boss is like a time bomb; he will do anything in his power to stifle your growth and professional success. Keep your professional and personal triumphs private lest he uses his position to destroy your career.

7. Speaks Negatively About Colleagues

Good and brave managers speak positively about their colleagues; they will praise them in public and reprimand them in private. Unfortunately, a cowardly manager lacks the guts to address employees honestly. He will talk about their failures in hushed tones and refuse to take responsibility when confronted in public. 

If you have such a manager, avoid discussing your colleagues in their absence. If he speaks negatively to you about your colleagues, ignore the comments as they might de-motivate you from your work. Keep all your conversations professional and respectfully make him understand that you are not willing to discuss people.

8. Cannot Manage Conflict

A manager holds a leadership position, and should help resolve conflict in the workplace. Woe unto you if you work under a coward, he will run away from conflict or escalate the conflict, making it difficult to work in a team set up. A cowardly manager cannot set or enforce rules of engagement in the workplace, making conflict resolution difficult.

The hard truth is that every workplace needs rules that everybody must follow. Unfortunately, you manager fails to understand this simple principle. Ask for help from other managers or your human resource office to avoid conflicts that slow your work down.

9. Lies Repeatedly

You cannot trust a coward’s word. Your manager is always telling lies to you, your peers, your bosses and junior employees. Lying is common in the workplace, and in rare cases beneficial; unfortunately, your cowardly manager lies for self-gain and to put the team in trouble.

Working for a liar is difficult. Unfortunately, you can do little in such a situation. Once you realize you can no longer trust your boss’ word or depend on him to stand up for you, it is time to get a new boss.

See Also: Bad Management Styles

The workplace is rapidly changing with no room for cowards. If you have a cowardly boss, walk out before his actions hurt your career and give you a bad reputation with your employers. Life is too short to work under a coward. Keep your options open and remember that you will succeed as long as you keep an open mind and work smart. If the traits above describe you, it is time to seek professional help and give your employees a break. Nobody likes a coward, including your employer, and you could soon be on your way out.

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