5 Reasons Your Great Boss Is Hurting Your Career

Mar 23, 2018 1 Min Read


Like other good things in life, a great boss relationship, when taken to extremes, can wreak havoc with your career.

I’ve seen smart and talented people lose credibility by over-aligning with a great boss. 

Perhaps you’ll recognise these five career-derailing pitfalls. 

  1. The Coat-Tail Rider 

On the surface, it feels like the perfect symbiotic relationship.

You’re her right-hand guy. You work hard and always achieve results.

She gets promoted to a new department, and she brings you over. It’s comforting for her to have someone familiar she can rely on, and you get a promotion, or a new assignment.

Win-win, right? Then it happens again, and again. Sweet deal?

Although it’s comfortable and feels like the fast-track, beware of riding coat-tails, particularly into more than one assignment.

Your identity will become enveloped within your more powerful, great boss. People will begin to see you as a package deal. If her career derails, so will yours.

Also, the best leadership growth comes from working with a variety of leaders. 

Although the devil you know feels easy, you’re both limiting the growth you would get from working with a wider variety of leaders. 

Better to let your relationship morph into a mentoring relationship, or friendship, while you each continue to pursue the next steps in your careers.

  1. The Mini-Me 

Your great boss is successful, so you work to emulate his every move. 

You begin dressing more like him and picking up mannerisms. After all, it works for him, why not you? 

In fact, you may not even notice you’re doing it. Trust me, others do.

No matter how great a leader your great boss is, resist the urge to lead like him. Your best leadership will come when you lead from a place of deep authenticity.

No one wants to follow a copy-cat.

Dr Evil & Mini-me | YouTube

Read: ‘What Have You Done For Me Lately, Boss?’


  1. The Tag-Along 

Your great boss is looking to develop you, and has your best interest at heart, so he brings you along a lot: to the big meetings, to the charity fundraiser, to happy hour.

When there’s a company function, there you are right by his side. You always find your way to his table at dinner.

After all, powerful people hang out with other powerful people, right?

Be careful. Some level of such exposure is healthy but over-exposure will burn. 

Give your peers a chance for the face-time. Be deliberate in getting to know other people at those functions. It’s harder, sure, but the widened network will be invaluable.

  1. The Name-Dropper 

When you’re trying to get stuff done, it’s tempting to throw around your boss’ name, for example, “Karin said this must be done by 5pm tomorrow.” 

Weak leaders hide behind the power of other leaders. Even if your boss is the one asking for something to be done, resist the urge to use that muscle. 

In the long run, you’ll have much more credibility when you own your asks.

  1. The Good Soldier 

Your great boss says jump, you say how high… every time. You trust her.

Now of course, there’s a time and a place for good soldiering, but real leaders know when to question and when to put on the brakes.

Sure, your boss may reward you for your consistent execution of her directives, but she’ll be amazed when you challenge her with innovation and offer creative and better alternatives.


Work to build a fantastic relationship with your great boss but beware of such co-dependencies. 

What feels easy and comfortable could damage your career in the long run.



Karin Hurt is a keynote speaker, leadership consultant, and MBA professor. She has decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR which she uses to help clients turn around results through deeper engagement. If you want more opportunities to Win Well, email us at editor@leaderonomics.com.

Reposted with permission.


Some bosses see their employees the same way that young children see their teachers — as having no identity outside of their work. If you get the feeling that you’re disappointing your boss every time you leave for the day, then you’re working in an unhealthy environment. Click below for more:

Four Signs Your Boss Is Bad For Your Health

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This article is published by the editors of Leaderonomics.com with the consent of the guest author. 

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