New Manager Nightmares: 11 Creepy Leaders and How to Avoid Morphing Into One

“Have you experienced New Manager Nightmares?”

You are going about your business when suddenly a new manager walks in.  A dark cloud seems to blot out the sun, reality distorts, work grinds to a halt, and nothing seems normal anymore.

What you may be experiencing is a new manager nightmare.  Here’s how to recognize some of the more common ones that you may encounter.  And more importantly, when it’s time for you to transition into a leadership position, here’s how you can avoid morphing into one of these night terrors yourself.

New Manager Nightmares - 11 Creepy Leaders and how to Avoid Morphing Into One

New Manager Nightmares

See if any of these new manager nightmares seem familiar…

1. The Free Radical.  He has a thousand great new ideas, many of them conflicting, and none of them tied to any kind of overall plan.  Like his namesake, his bright shiny projects ricochet in all directions, often causing damage to otherwise healthy tissue.  His modus operandi is to delegate impulsively, directly, and privately to each member of the team.  No one knows what’s going on; soon it’s like ping pong balls in a tornado.

2. The Casper.  They said you had a new boss, but nobody has seen him.  When you need a decision, the door creaks open to reveal a vacant office.  When you have a question, he’s always somewhere else.  If this ghost does show up for a meeting, it’s still as if he isn’t really there – no feedback, no presence, no…anything.  Yet you can’t shake that eerie feeling that you are being watched.

3. The Drill Sergeant.  The movie Full Metal Jacket was his leadership school.  After watching it 17 times, he has modeled himself after Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.  To him, everyone in the room is Private Pyle.  There is no end to the shouting, threats, and intimidation, all done at full volume and in public.  Everyone is permanently assigned to KP duty.  You secretly hope he’ll burst a blood vessel during his next tirade.

New Manager Nightmares - The Elvis4. The Elvis.  Leadership means being the center of attention, and he’s got the stories, one-liners, and the sequined jump suit to steal the show.  Meetings are his own personal stage, so there are lots of them, and there always seems to be time for another encore.  Your to-do list grows even as he’s warming up for yet another rendition of “Heartbreak Hotel.

5. The Sherlock.  Investigates everything with a magnifying glass and tweezers.  Demands updates on that long-term project every seven minutes.  Trusts no one.  You are all potential suspects until the last chapter.  Even then, you can’t be sure there won’t be one more plot twist.  Everybody is in self-protect mode, and you keep your alibies at the ready, arranged alphabetically in chronological order.

6. The Paul Bunyan.  Struts around with an axe over his shoulder and a scowl on his face, as if he’s is just looking for the next tree to chop down.  Seems bent on clearing the entire company of “old growth” before taking a break over giant pile of pancakes slathered in syrup.  Your once-stout fellow maples are cowering in the corner.  Even Babe the Blue Ox has a worried look.

7. The Hoover.  Hoover Dam, that is.  Work goes in, but never seems to come out, it’s a productivity logjam of epic proportion, and his inbox is groaning under the strain.  You can’t take the next step without his say-so, but decisions only leak out in a tiny trickle.  You know that one day the dam will burst, so you stockpile life jackets under your desk and use any available time to plan a safe route to the high ground.

New Manager Nightmares - The Clone Arranger8. The Clone Arranger.  Sees himself a bit like his hero the Lone Ranger.  Believes everything was perfect at the place he just came from.  His plan to save us is to clone everything around him in that image, whether it makes sense or not.  Tonto looks at you with a question in his eyes…

9. The Mosquito.  You know when you’re just trying to get some work done, but there’s this annoying buzzing in your ear and you have to keep waving at it in hopes it will go away? That’s the guy.  And he seems to keep coming back for a few more drops of blood.  The distraction is maddening.  You retreat to the spare office down the hall, spray it down with Deep Woods Off and surround yourself with citronella candles, but it doesn’t seem to be working

10. The Transformer.  Talks a good game with the team, says all the right things, uses all the appropriate buzz words.  Then his boss walks in and suddenly he mutates into an entirely different person.  Commitments he made to you are negotiable, the principles he talked about are out the window if they don’t support the current expediency, and “sure, the team won’t mind taking on that extra project.”  You wonder what shape he’ll transform into next.

11. The Galley Captain.  Happiest when his captive crew is laboring at their oars in the black depths of the ship, groaning in misery, and fearing the crack of the whip.  His command is “Row, and Live.”  When the insurrection comes, you’re planning to go after the guy beating the drum first.

Waking up from the Nightmare

It’s an all-star cast of new manager nightmares, and if you’ve worked longer than a day, it’s likely you have met one or more of these characters.  Maybe you even told yourself that you’ll never be “that guy” when it’s your time to lead.

But when we do step into a leadership position, how do we make sure we don’t make the same mistakes?

Here at RapidStart Leadership, we offer Essential Leadership Skills for New Managers, an online course that will help you get off to a great start without turning the whole experience into a nightmare for everyone.

Here’s a short video that explains more about the course:

New Manager Nightmares – The Takeaway

Stepping into a new leadership position isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to become a bad dream – for you or your team.  With a little preparation and a solid game plan, you can step forward in confidence.

If that sounds like a good thing, check out the Essential Leadership Skills Course now, and welcome to the team!

Lead on!

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About the Author: Ken Downer
Ken Downer - Founder RapidStart Leadership

Ken served for 26 years in the Infantry, retiring as a Colonel.  From leading patrols in the Korean DMZ, to parachuting into the jungles of Panama, to commanding a remote outpost on the Iran-Iraq border, he has learned a lot about leadership, and has a passion for sharing that knowledge with others.  Look for his weekly posts, check out his online courses, subscribe below, or simply connect, he loves to talk about this stuff.

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