The Explosive Bully Boss


  • Scale of Frustration 90%
  • Scale of Potential Harm 80%
  • Likely to Be Up for a Chat 10%

The Explosive Bully Boss is the more common type of bully in the workplace but is often confused with the less common form of bully – the Psychopathic Bully or Asshole Boss.

The Explosive Bully Boss is generally driven and committed to their career but has low self-control and emotional intelligence.

Their motivations are different to the Asshole Boss but the impact of their behaviour often has the same disastrous effect.

How to Recognise

This Boss is very task-focused and driven.  They may seem to have a Classic “Type A” Personality.  They often seem overwhelmed and stressed.  They lack the capacity to manage their feelings and lash out at others.  They may display at times the other types of Difficult Boss behaviours such as Rules Focus and Micromanager.

Yet because they are strongly committed to service and the organization the Bully Boss may often appear to be revered and tolerated by his or her peers.

The Bully Boss may themselves be burnt out.

Possible Reasons for this Behaviour (Empathy)

This type of behaviour generally doesn’t happen spontaneously in Medical Bosses it often emerges over several years and may, in fact, be tolerated and reinforced by the pressure of a stressful healthcare environment.  The habit has developed over a long period of time and no one has been brave enough to point it out.  The Boss may feel that they are being tough on juniors to benefit them.

The Boss themselves may actually be struggling emotionally and feel insecure.  This situation may not just be limited to work but also family and social life.

How to Own It

This is a situation where you need to tread carefully.  It is unlikely that the Bully Boss will receive criticism well in the first instance, especially from a junior.

Depending on the situation it may be better to opt for a survival skill from the Asshole Survival Tips.

A peer or bystander may have a better chance of talking to the Bully Boss.

Ultimately this is a situation which needs to be brought to the attention of a skilled senior clinician and/or Manager.  The Bully Boss can probably be helped through feedback and coaching.  But the situation will need to be handled sensitively.


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