…you are a dick manager.

You’re having a discussion with an employee who can sometimes be a little defiant. Their heart is in the right place—probably—but they get no points for style. They are blunt and accusatory and though they may have a point, their attitude makes it hard for you to admit it.

Finally, after going over the same territory a couple of times, you blurt out, “Do I need to remind you who’s boss?”

Congratulations. You are now a dick manager. And your employee walks away knowing they got under your skin and exposed your insecurities.

You couldn’t adequately explain your position. You couldn’t end the discussion with an agreement to disagree. So, you resorted to the dick move of pulling rank.

Or during a company-wide meeting, the boss singles you out and tells everyone about the great things your group has accomplished. You stand up, smile, say thank you and sit back down. You could have said what a great team you have and thanked them for doing a such a good job, but you simply accepted the compliment for yourself.

You’ve just confirmed your dick manager status, and your employees are feeling deflated and a little resentful. Whatever thrill your needy ego got out of the boss’s compliment was fleeting. Your team’s resentment will last a long, long time. They–and the rest of the company–saw you soothe your insecurities by taking compliments you hadn’t earned on your own.

Are you a dick manager? How can you be sure? Read on to understand some of the warning signs.

Things dick managers say that show their egos are out of control

Dick managers fail to keep their egos in check, which makes them insecure and defensive, so they say things like:

  • “Do you know what my title is?”
  • “You need to show some respect.”
  • “You’re lucky to have this job.”
  • “That’s above your pay grade.”

Things dick managers do that expose their insecurities

Dick managers are insecure, which causes them to put their own needs ahead of the company and the team, so they do things like:

  • Fail to give their team credit and promote their work to the rest of the company
  • Criticize team members in public
  • Bad-mouth their team members behind their backs
  • Fail to communicate openly and honestly with their team
  • Fail to create a sense of shared objectives and common goals

Things dick managers believe that prevent them from being great

Dick managers lack the empathy required to understand the needs of their employees and bosses. They often believe things like:

  • Employees are all out to cheat the company, so strict rules must be put in place and enforced
  • Employees don’t care about the company’s success, so since they can’t be motivated, they must be controlled
  • Bosses don’t need too much information about their teams—the less the boss knows, the less likely they’ll interfere
  • The less your employees know, the less likely that they’ll question your decisions


To learn more about how to be a successful manager, read Don’t Be a Dick Manager: The Down & Dirty Guide to Management. It’s the management training you never got, available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com. The audiobook is available from AmazonAudible and iTunes.

Do you think you might be a dick manager? Take the quiz!