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Managers: The Arrogant Bastard

The arrogant bastard is to be avoided

This is the second article in our series entitled Managers: The Good and the Bad.

Poor managers like the Arrogant Bastard represent a real risk to the companies for which they work.  It is not really OK with an arrogant bastard when women take jobs traditionally held by men or when foreigners take jobs formerly held by Americans — despite merit, education and supply/demand issues. And lest it seem that I am targeting the typical white American male,  this type of manager exists in every country, in every religion, among all races and in both genders.

They are legendary. And they have the power to make their employees feel horrible day after day.

Characteristics of Arrogant Bastards

Archetype(s):Pacesetting, Commanding
MBTI Range:Any
How to Spot:There are several things to watch for:

  • Your company (or perhaps just one division) has trouble attracting the best talent
  • Company secrets are being given away
  • Security breaches are frequent
  • The company or division is suffering a loss in productivity
  • Innovation is on the decline
  • There is a noticeable increase in people taking sick days and/or in Workers Compensation claims
  • Your best employees are looking for an exit or have already departed
  • He behaves as though he is far more important than the people who report to him
  • She has lost — or has never gained — the respect of the people who work for her
  • His employees eventually appear as a group of uninspired individuals
  • She is hypercritical, erratic, and is very likely the sort of person who will DO ANYTHING to make her boss happy
  • Present in all generations (Boomers, Seniors, Xers, Millenials)
  • Examples can be found, male or female, but primarily male
Reason(s) to Hire:
The most common reason for a company to hire a specialist like this is to “clean house” without incurring unemployment claims.  Why do this?  Say a company wants to become very attractive to would-be buyers.  Here’s one recipe:
  1. Buy or build your product/service line and invest heavily in marketing and customer service;
  2. Hire an Arrogant Bastard to oversee your brain trust,  especially the well paid innovators who “got you there”;
  3. Cash in big when the company sells for more than it’s actually worth.
  • Lawsuits: Harassment; sexual harassment
  • Alienation of the workforce (team, division, army, etc)

Final Thoughts

So who thrives under the rule of an arrogant bastard?  Yes Men (and Women).


  1. Do these types of managers know what they’re like?
  2. Will human resource departments eventually weed out managers like this or will their behaviors be overlooked whenever their perceived value is high?
  3. Can interviewees spot this sort of manager BEFORE accepting a job?

About Jeff Hayes

Jeff is an agile consultant, coach and trainer with a career spanning 30 years. He specializes in co-creating learning environments to help humans learn how to learn, become more curious and productive, and to build resilience.

Commentary on “Managers: The Arrogant Bastard”

  1. Mary Ellyn Vicksta

    I’ve actually seen a couple of types of “Arrogant Bastards”.

    One type is the person with the supreme ego that always thinks that he (or she) is right. They constantly promote their own causes and push hard to get their way. They are so busy pushing that they don’t take any time to listen to anyone. They also tend to treat other people with disdain and either gloat about their experience, expertise, track record, or all of the above. Their conversation is all about them and nothing about the team or other contributing members. Often I have seen this type of “Arrogant Bastard” as head of a department that requires expertise or a proven track record of accomplishment. But don’t ask about the working conditions in this department because it’s all about getting the work done, awards received, patents granted, etc, etc and nothing about teamwork or collaboration or home-life balance. Most people in the department feel like they are walking on egg shells because they are afraid of the next time they are reprimanded for not producing as quickly or as effectively as in the past.

    The other type of “Arrogant Bastard” is the hatchet man. Their sole function is to come in and get rid of people and processes, no matter what the costs. They treat people like …. and they don’t care. They are there for a short period of time to get things done. The team or department just has to wait until the blood-letting has finished and their job is to clean up the mess. And the “Arrogant Bastard” is onto another company and another shambles.

    I think the first type of “Arrogant Bastard” is clueless about how his (or her) behaviors affect others. They are too busy stroking themselves and trying to get more rewards and recognition for themselves. If someone complains about their style, they just show the results.

    The second type of “Arrogant Bastard” is very cognizant of his (or her) style. They found the perfect job that allows them to run over people and they don’t have to go to “charm school” because they are not around long enough to charm anyone. They thrive on their one-sided personality and look forward to their next obnoxious assignment.

  2. Mary Ellyn Vicksta

    I am trying to decide which Manager type, “Arrogant Bastard” or “Artful Dodger” is the more toxic to organizations. Both wreak havoc on their teams, but the “Artful Dodger” is my vote since they have little to no substance and even fewer results.

  3. Jeff Hayes

    We’ve spoken quite a bit about how both the Arrogant Bastard AND the Artful Dodger ‘present different faces to different people’, in a sense. The Arrogant Bastard may appear to be a “good and faithful employee” to her/his superiors whereas the Artful Dodger may appear to be a “golden goose”.

    What may not be apparent is how a company’s upper management may perceive those who WORK for the Arrogant Bastard and the Artful Dodger, respectively.

    Do you have any thoughts on this?

  4. Mary Ellyn Vicksta

    Regarding Jeff’s question about how upper management perceives those who work for either an Arrogant Bastard or an Artful Dodger….

    To be honest, I don’t think Upper Management is looking at the management personalities, but rather on the results. If any of these types aren’t delivering, then “charm school” may be in order.

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