The 4 Kinds of Bosses You Meet & How to Work With Them.

Every workplace is different. Some call it the energy, others call it the vibe. But you know what I’m talking about. Most of the time, the tone is set by the boss. I’ve worked for chefs, bartenders, bankers, event managers, engineers and entrepreneurs. And I can think of a quite a few bosses that fit into the following categories.

Here are 4 types of bosses and how you can work with them.

1. The Bossy Boss (D Style)


“Do it."

This type of leader is extremely sharp, and got to where they are because they know their stuff and deliver results. They take pride in their ability to make the tough decisions. At their best, they can bring the team forward in an almost miraculous way. At their worst, they can be dictatorial and narrow-minded. A great example of this style of leadership is Lee Kuan Yew.

If you are this boss
Remember that empathy is just as important as clarity. Delivering results is only half the battle. The war is truly won only when your people are with you in victory.

If you work for this boss, 
Be direct. Keep conversations short and productive. They appreciate honesty (no matter how blunt) and clarity.

A chef I worked for was a classic D. He has potatoes in his pocket and if you were ever caught breaking one of “Chef’s Rules”, you are most certainly going to get a potato in the head.

2. The Cheerleader (I Style)


“We can do it!”

This type of leader is usually very charming and gregarious, and can convince you to do things you never knew you could/would do. At their best, they are able to hold and rally a large crowd or a big team. At their worst, they can seem two-faced or insincere. For this type of leader, think of mavericks like Richard Branson and Tony Fernandes.

If you are this boss, 
Bringing people together is the beginning. Take a break from cheerleading once in a while to do some hands-on monitoring.

If you work for this boss, 
Help them turn their ideas into actionable items. Be the COO to their CEO. They’ll thank you.

One of my bosses at the bank truly made me feel like I could do anything. All you needed was a 5-min conversation-that-always-turns-into-a-pep-talk with him to get you off your seat and into action.

3. The Coach (S Style)


“Let’s do it, together.”

This type of leader is hands-on, in the field with you and will catch you when you fall. At their best, they earn your respect and loyalty through consistency over time. At their worst, they can be indecisive for fear of sudden change or too lenient on poor performance. Mother Theresa and Michelle Obama come to mind when it comes to this style of leadership.

If you are this boss, 
While it’s good to plan when given the luxury. But in today’s faced-paced world, no decision can be the worst decision. 
Don’t let an individual’s poor/non-performance affect morale of the entire team. A rotten apple spoils the barrel.

If you work for this boss, 
They value loyalty and sincerity. They’ll stick with you to the end, if they feel like you will.

If the I Boss made me feel like I could truly achieve anything, it was the S boss that helped me chart my way step by excruciating step to tangible success. But during that time, she sure felt a lot like a D boss to me!

4. The Perfectionist (C Style)


“Do it right”

This type of leader is precise and most likely be the most technically skilled individual in the team. At their best, they are accurate and maintains logic and stability when needed. At their worst, they can be over-critical or over-analytical. Elon Musk is the perfect example of the perfectionist leader.

If you are this boss, 
A leader is one who makes new leaders, not followers. Give your team a chance to learn and fail by letting go of and delegating tasks.

If you work for this boss, 
Focus on facts and figures, minimise emotional language.

At the risk of sounding stereo-typical, it was a Japanese boss that taught me the value of accuracy. He was precise in the way he thought about business and objectively cold about how close or far away we are from our milestones. That was his genius, to be able to predict outcomes before they actually happened.

PS - I know that this is an over-simplication of the many different personalities out there. But it’s meant to serve as a starting point. Have you got time for 7 billion categories? 😄 For more information in DISC, head over to

AMA : "Leadership"

A few weeks ago, my colleagues at EPIPEOPLE CONSULTANTS did an Ask Us Anything on the topic of “Leadership” on Instagram. Some of the questions were really good and deserved a long form answer. So here goes!

1. Are leaders born or made? If you aren’t born a leader, can you train to be one?
Leaders are made, not born. People can become leaders through the process of teaching, learning and observation. Leadership is a set of skills that can be learned by training, perception, practice and experience.

While it sounds like a big daunting thing, it’s actually quite commonplace. If you have ever organized a meal with friends, or planned a surprise party, you have led before. 

You don’t have to wait for someone to give you authority before you practice leadership. NGOs and volunteer groups are usually a great place to begin learning leadership in a low pressure environment.

2. How to be a charismatic leader?
There is a segment of people (I style) to whom charisma comes easily and naturally. These are people who light up a room, gets conversations going, and are usually the social glue in a a group.

Can this be learnt or practiced? Of course. Anyone can simply decide to be outgoing and social. It’s not that hard at all. But it might go against your natural grain.

Besides, charisma is over-rated. People might join you for your charisma, but will only stay for your values and consistency.

3. How should a leader deal with people who hate them?
In an ideal world, the people we lead will all admire and revere us. They will trust us with every stand we take, and agree completely with every decision we make.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in a world where even Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela have their critics and people who “hate” them.

I personally think that this is because as human beings, we are more likely to pay attention to our differences than our similarities. 

If you are in such a situation, it’s best to find common ground with your “haters”? More often than not, people might not always agree with your actions, decisions and opinions. But you can always find some common ground in belief systems and values.

For example, you might not agree on a specific target that your manager has set, but you might agree that you are both trying to do the best for your company.

4. Best Criteria as a leader?
Leadership is the skill of unifying a set of people towards achieving a common objective or goal.

In some cases, the leader is the one most technically skilled in the tasks. This is true for highly technical and specialized sectors like medicine, law and the military. In these cases, the most important criteria is clarity


Outside of those sectors, however, the most important criteria as a leader is the ability to connect on a deep and meaningful level with their followers. There’s an old saying - “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.

The single most important criteria as a leader is empathy. A very close second is clarity.

The real challenge is - you need to cultivate both of them - at the same time.