6 Spirit Animals of Bad Managers [Infographic]
Skip to content
4 min read

6 Spirit Animals of Bad Managers [Infographic]

Post Author - Mart Virkus Mart Virkus Last Updated:

Managers sometimes get a bad rep – so much so that some are beginning to question if we need them at all? And while there’s a few bad apples in every basket, all is not lost for the bosses.

I have a friend whose manager once called her after work to have her google some song lyrics. I kid you not. And no, she doesn’t work in the creative industry (pretty far from it).

It’s hard to teach someone how to be a decent human being, but there’s a lot of managerial qualities you can easily learn or improve on, if only you’re willing.

This is why we’ve put together this infographic on the types of bad managers that hold you back (and one Unicorn that can save the day):

Click to enlarge

6 Spirit Animals of Bad Managers - Toggl Infographic

The most important takeaway here is that no-one is a hopeless case. As for the “Unicorn Manager” up there – keep in mind that’s an ideal case – You don’t have to be perfect in every single way, but picking a few of the good qualities can already make a huge difference.

You also have to keep in mind that different environments require different management styles – while some teams operate better when working remotely, others need a firm leader and a stricter daily routine.

The core qualities of a great manager boil down to communication and involvement. Managing isn’t about forwarding goals and tasks via e-mail but rather it’s about constant engagement with the staff. Mark Graban does an excellent job in explaining why it’s important for managers to involve people in the decision-making and improvement processes. The reason is simple – no one person knows everything, and not tapping into the collective potential of their staff is perhaps the biggest mistake a leader can make.

Social intelligence, not just intelligence

It’s great if a manager has in-depth knowledge of their particular field, or has the visionary qualities needed to keep a company head and shoulders above the rest. In the infographic above we have:

a.) the Elephant – an educated, highly knowledgeable leader with a highly organised mind.

b.) the Mole – a esteemed specialist of their niche field. Specialists don’t necessarily make good leaders though, so they need to pay extra attention to the social skills below.

c.) the Giraffe – a forward-thinker and a visionary. The world isn’t getting less competitive, and staying ahead requires constant reaching for new heights.


But we also have to be good with people. Thankfully, social intelligence – the ability to read and influence social situations around one self – can be learned.


d.) the Cat – rather that forcing everybody to adjust to their ideas of work, a cat values freedom and independent thinking, and encourages flexibility in other’s work patterns.

e.) the Setter – being sincere and honest with your staff is absolutely crucial for having trust.

f.) the Vulture – if they can control their credit stealing urge, the vulture won’t let themselves be bullied away from a good idea.


Perhaps more than anything, it’s the social side that needs more attention. You may have heard the saying “People quit their bosses, not their job” – with management playing a big role in job satisfaction, a stubborn and authoritarian manager can cause a lot of damage to their organisation.

“People quit their bosses, not their job.”

That risk isn’t too likely to diminish in the future either, as the millennials are reshaping the way superiors connect with their staff.

So it’s best to grow those Unicorn wings and fly, because the ground’s not that firm anymore.


Scary as it may seem, change is necessary – here’s a really engaging piece from Chad Perry on how old school management techniques can kill work culture.

Do you know a bad manager type we may have left out? Let us know in the comments below!

Mart Virkus

Mart has a background in anthropology - a discipline which has turned people-watching into a science. He most enjoys working on projects that make you go from “that’s stupid” to “hmmm”.

Join 30,000+ subscribers getting the best tips on productivity, work management, hiring and more!

We promise we won't spam you and you can unsubscribe anytime.