One in five people say that they work for a "boss from hell" who bullies staff into getting results, a figure that rises to more than a third of bosses in London.
A poll of more than 1,000 employees commissioned to mark the launch of a search to find the UK's best boss for 2004 found that London managers were the least popular in the UK, in stark contrast to the West Country where a third of employees consider their manager to be a close friend.
More than half those questioned by Lloyds TSB and campaign group Working Families said they believed they could do a better job than their boss while more than four out of ten aspire to be like their boss.
The majority of people - seven out of ten - would prefer their boss to be ‘friendly but professional’, and only one in ten want to socialise with their boss outside the office.
Fiona Cannon, head of equality and diversity at Lloyds TSB, said: "One of the keys to being a good boss is to understand the importance of work-life balance.
"People work hard and they get fed up if their boss doesn't recognise that they have a life outside of work."
Working Families (then Parents At Work) and Lloyds TSB launched the Best Boss competition in 2000 to celebrate the unsung local heroes who can show other managers how a happy team with balanced lives makes for a 'win-win' situation for everyone.
According to Working Families’ Sarah Jackson, the competition is looking for individuals who have taken practical steps to help their staff balance their work and home lives by encouraging flexible working, being understanding about family emergencies and making sure no one is working long hours.
"We’re keen to hear from everyone who has a great boss. This competition celebrates the work of unsung heroes every where. Over the past four years, all sorts of people, doing very different jobs, have been entered."
The closing date for nominations is 1 April 2004, and if you have a boss that you feel earns the title of Best Boss 2004, then either phone 020 7253 7243 for an application form or download one from www.workingfamilies.org.uk.