Why is My Boss Acting Like a Baby?

Dear Dr. Sylvia,

Do you remember the popular song from “My Fair Lady?” The one with the following words “Why can’t a woman be more like a man? ”It goes on and on about male superiority.

Above all, it really seems a bit old-fashioned these days when women are gaining strength at work, at home, everywhere.

How to manage childish boss behavior

However, I think it would be good to change the song a bit. For today’s world, it could be “Why are so many leaders behaving like babies” or something like that.

For instance, in my office, I have a boss who pouts, sulks, stamps his feet, and makes snide remarks. He gives those he dislikes “pet” names and is always on the defensive.

It’s exhausting.

Most importantly, I will keep this short. My question is: what can I/we do to get our boss to grow up? And I really mean it. He is such a baby that half the staff is ready to quit. And I resist the temptation in case there is something that I can do to turn the tide.

Thanks for any advice,


Not a babysitter

What is at the core of bad behavior at work?

Dear Not a Babysitter,

Most importantly, these past few years seem to bring out the worst in some people. I think the uncertainty and the fear of getting physically sick are playing roles.

However, underneath that lurks something much more substantial.

Overcoming fear of failure.

It has to do with the fear of failure. Does that surprise you?

Further, at the core of very poor workplace behavior is a childhood emotional system.

Moreover, this is exactly what you should address now.

In addition, your boss, like many in the workplace, sounds like he has never really become self- aware.

When I started as an executive coach several decades ago, doing “inner work” was the butt of jokes. It brought out frowns an big guffaws.

It did not, so many said, belong in the workplace. most executives consider it to be therapy. And therapy was only for people who were in deep distress.

Above all, this was not true then and absolutely still not true.

Becoming self-aware is the work of today’s leaders.

The times, they are changing, thank goodness.

As a result, leaders and emerging leaders do better when they are aware of what pushes their buttons. In the same vein, they need to know how their behavior impacts others.

Now, let’s look specifically at your boss.

How childish habits cause negative responses.

Since I don’t have a detailed understanding of him I will touch lightly on his behavior.

Subsequently, I want to address what I think is causing him to call people names, makes snide remarks, etc.

Somewhere as he was growing up, he learned that to side-step difficult discussions made him safe. And he got away with it.

He also learned that by creating a diversion, like yelling or sulking he would no longer have to be accountable. He did this as a youngster and now he continues this behavior in business.

It happens all the time.

However, it is also how a business can tank.

Emotional intelligence keeps employees productive.

Here are the signs that your boss is causing so many of your colleagues to consider leaving.

  1. Increased absenteeism
  2. Reduced productivity
  3. Human resource complaints
  4. Excessive drama
  5. Disregard for the facts
  6. Rigid camps for/against the boss
  7. Possibility of violence (verbal/physical fights)

Do not fear failure but be terrified of regret.

The big question is: “What can I do?”

The big answer is: Take the risk to tell your boss what you see happening.

‘What,” you ask “Are the consequences of telling the truth to power?”

You may leave your job because you cannot be heard. Or you may become the hero to help your boss begin the journey to self-awareness. That is to say, once again, you can love your job.

When you talk truth to power, you win.

Either way, you win.

No, I’m not nuts.

Consequently, If you lose your job for taking a stand against a child-boss, you will be better off elsewhere.

On the other hand, your boss may well hear you and decides to get some executive coaching. Therefore, he will remember your courage and who knows what kind of promotion is ahead.

I say, take the risk.

In conclusion, before you talk with him, I suggest you look through my book “Don’t Bring It To Work.” I’ll brag a bit, blush and admit, it’s won a bunch of awards. After that, if you like, I will send you a copy of my short e-book “79 Power Sentences. These books give you an idea of what to say when you talk to ‘the little guy.’ In short, that’s the kid who lives inside your adult boss.

Let me know what happens.

Here’s to your success,


P.S. You may also need my Stress Busters program. It has been of great help to many leaders and emerging leaders. Give a holler if you want to join.

Sylvia Lafair