He/she lies:
Everybody lies at times to spare feelings or embellish a story.  But as readers pointed out, a cowardly boss lies over and over for personal gain or to discredit others. And innocent workers like you may be hurt by his lies. Working for a boss who lies is nerve-wracking. You never know whether one of his lies is going to come back and bite you or inadvertently help you. A boss who lies is breaching a sacred employer-employee trust.  If you work for a boss who lies for personal gain, do not lie to yourself. It is time for you to find a new boss.

He/she is envious of subordinates, peers, and higher ups:
One reader noted that an envious boss thwarts productivity by breeding fear and uncertainty that de-motivates a team. She only feels good when she can tear down the people she is envious of.  She might do this by turning people’s talents knowledge, and hard work against them. If you are the target, your best qualities go from “the keys to your success” to “areas for improvement”.  This type of cowardly boss is simply afraid she will be upstaged by excellence around her. As a result, you are punished for a job well done.

He/ she delivers empty promises again and again:
Everyone loves hearing praise for a “job well done” and the promise of a raise, promotion, or challenging new assignment. But when months go by and the promised reward did not materialize, the boss’s promises are immaterial.  Several readers noted that a boss who makes promises he can not keep is often motivated by the desire to be liked. Making promises is easier than giving you positive feedback, while at the same time being realistic about what the organization will or will not do for you.
Of course, what you really need from your boss is a reality check. You may not like the answer, but you will respect your boss for being straight with you.  Empty promises empty the soul of an entire workforce.

He/she blames others to mask her own shortcomings:
This kind of boss is so afraid of looking bad that she can not admit she does not know it all. Worse, she views asking for help as a weakness.  So, instead of turning to team members who are better equipped to handle certain tasks, she blunders on. Then when things did not go well, she blames her team – loudly, to anyone within earshot.

He/she fails to manage conflict and bad behavior within the organization:
This coward boss is afraid to set rules of engagement and reinforce and enforce them. The result is chaos – a workplace that is a “free for all”. The truth is all teams need rules and a referee to step in from time to time, cry foul, and get the game back on track. As one reader said, “Imagine the World Cup with no referees”.

She does not protect her team from impossible requests from upper-management:
As one reader remarked, some bosses fall short when it comes to managing up – with disastrous consequences. Have you ever had a boss who accepts poor decisions from upper management and commits her team to deliver on unreasonable requests without pushing back?

This type of boss is like Lord Cardigan, who sent his light cavalry to their deaths in a frontal assault in the famous Charge of the Light Brigade – a task they were neither trained nor well-suited for. It turns out he was acting on incorrect orders that were the result of a miscommunication in the chain of command.