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What Do You Do When Your Boss Feels Threatened By You?

Updated on July 26, 2015

Why would a Boss feel threatened?

If your boss feels that your skills are superior to theirs, they may threatened. Think of it from their point of view - they feel that they can't compare, they worry that you will take their position, and they just don't understand things the way that you do. Because of these feelings of inadequacy, they try to shift the balance in their favour, so that they feel powerful and superior.

Does my boss feel threatened by me?

Some indicators that your boss may feel threatened by you:

  1. They often take credit for work that you have done.
  2. They don't offer praise when it is due.
  3. They act like they are more important than you; they may shuffle papers during conversations, avoid eye contact, or take calls while you are talking.
  4. They constantly question your decisions and your knowledge.
  5. They want you to run everything by them first - ie customer quotes or emails.
  6. They belittle what you do or the skills you have.
  7. They wield their power at every opportunity; they make it clear that they are the boss.
  8. They make important changes without telling you.
  9. They give you very little information.
  10. They find errors in everything you do.

(Please note that all of these except 1 may also indicate that your boss thinks that you are inadequate and that you think you know everything.)

Quiz: Does my boss feel threatened by me?

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So how do I deal with my Boss?

It's hard to know how to respond to such toxic behaviour. It is natural for most people to want to respond similarly, however, that may cost you your job, and certainly isn't professional. I suggest trying the following.

1. Do NOT lose your cool

Never lose your cool with your boss. You must be professional at all times, and respond politely and respectfully, no matter how underhand their behaviour. Remember, you have established that you make them feel inadequate, so secretly you have the upper hand.

2. Help your boss feel competent

Turn the tables - help your boss feel competent and no longer threatened by you. This may involve praising them for what they do, helping them to learn new skills, or assisting them in their tasks so they accomplish more. The idea is to make them feel like they don't have to lord it over you anymore, that they are competent and do not need to fear you.

3. Perfect your work

Nobody can be 100% perfect, but you can try to do your absolute best. Try to complete every task in such a way that no fault can be found. This may make your boss feel even more threatened, but at least you are making their job easier, by producing such good results.


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