5 Good Lessons From Bad Bosses

5 Good Lessons From Bad Bosses
From Recruiter - October 4, 2016

Article by Karin Vandraiss

Everyones had one. Maybe it was a college kid home for the summer who gave you the worst lifeguard shifts at the pool, or maybe it was a team lead who made you stay late on Christmas Eve and then took the credit for your work. If youve had a 9-to-5, chances are youve encountered one of the Bill Lumbergs, Miranda Priestlys, or Michael Scotts of the world,those archetypal bad bosses ranging from truly nightmarish to unfortunately incompetent.

There are a lot of them out there. Recent research presented by psychologist and leadership consultant Robert Hogan to the American Psychological Association showed that 75 percent of employees report their immediate boss is the worst part of their job.

Being a 20-something navigating the early stages of my career, I think its fairly natural that work is a common topic of conversation for myself and my friends, who are all in a similar postgraduate, pre-white-picket-fence stage of life wherein most of our time and energy is focused on our jobs. By now, most of us have encountered that bossthe bully, the blamer, the manipulator, etc. We share war stories athappy hours, at backyard barbecues, and sometimes via international phone calls if need be.

If youre one of the blessed few who have only experienced the bosses that encourage long lunches andliving your best life, knock on wood and keep on doing whatever it is thats scored you such excellent karma.

Im lucky. My anecdotes are well-rehearsed by now, told with a levity that comes only with time enough to take the sting out ofthe most cringe-worthy memories. They largely revolve around my first job out of college, a sink or swim situation where my bosss management style was poor at best and unprofessional at worst. Even years later, it still stirs the occasional moment of self-doubt.

In an effort to sound gracefully diplomatic during a grad school interview, I found myself referencing that particular experience in terms of teachable moments, a buzzy phrase Id never used before that suddenly made a lot of sense. I embraced the idea of the silver lining, and while I only say so out loud witha healthy dose of irony, it makes me feel a little less like losing it when a situation is less than ideal.

In an equally valiant effort not to be the friend preaching about teachable moments when theyre supposed to be commiserating andasking the bartender foranother round, I keep the self-help jargon largely to myself. But even if we dont alwaysexplicitly state it, most of my friends and colleagues stories end with the same takeaway: I dont ever want to be that person.

In cases like these, a bad boss can teach us just as much as, if not more than, a great one:

1. Hiding From Responsibility

My bosss nonexistent interpersonal communication skills and mastery of passive aggression made her ill-suited for a job in, well, communications. She regularly avoided all forms of interaction with her team, holing upin her office without talking to anyone except during meetings. Whenever she did pay attention to anyone, it was usually to criticize and patronize one particular coworker, whom she would blame for her own mistakes.

Teachable moment: Your team will know if you dont want to be there or youre not interested in being a strong leader. When it comes to leadership and maximizing the potential of your team, a healthy, collaborative environment is always going to be more effective than isolation or condescension.

2. Playing Favorites


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