Want to Be a Terrible Boss? Here’s How.

Want to Be a Terrible Boss? Here's How.


When someone wants to be a good boss, even if they’ve only had a terrible boss to learn from, I’m reminded of a favourite quote;

Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.

                                                                                                          Otto von Bismarck

This is one of my favourite quotes because if we heeded this wisdom, life would undoubtedly be much simpler, and, certainly, less stressful.

Last week I promised share some of my of less than stellar examples of leadership in the workplace.

Leadership is not for the faint of heart, not for those who want to be liked and adored, nor is it for those who are not prepared to do the work necessary to excel in this

Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.

                                                                                                          Otto von Bismarck

This is one of my favourite quotes because if we heeded this wisdom, life would undoubtedly be much simpler, and, certainly, less stressful.

arena.  And let me just saye more thing, knowledge, or the belief that one has the knowledge, does not, nor has it ever magically transformed into competence. This, must be earned.

Recently a colleague shared with me his experience while working on a project at the head office of a national chain.

He had been hired by one of the vice presidents and at the halfway mark of the project he was told that the CEO wished to meet with him to hear his views on how well the venture was going.

It’s About Listening

This was his first meeting with the CEO and my colleague was expecting a short fireside chat where he could talk about how well the project was progressing.  However, much to his chagrin, he was never asked anything specific about the work, but rather listened quite uncomfortably for 45 minutes as the CEO systematically, and within just a few minutes after the introductions, the leader of this company began sharing his views on each member of his executive team.

With little knowledge of the project my colleague was working on, or where his allegiances may lie, he methodically ripped apart each of his VP’s and explained why he should replace them all.

Remember, he was sharing his thoughts with a person he had never met. My colleague later discovered that it was commonplace for the CEO to tear apart members of his team to their direct reports and even to folks lower down in the organization.

One can only imagine the impact on morale this type of behaviour produces.

Several years ago, I worked on a project where the general manager of the division was my client.

I think it is safe to say that none of us go to work each day seeking conflict, yet as we all know two things about workplace conflict are true: firstly, it will occur and secondly, when it does, it MUST be addressed and resolved as quickly and effectively as possible

This general manager exuded conflict-aversion. In fact, he was so conflict averse that he would seek any reason to avoid dealing with it, even, on occasion, if it meant calling in sick.

Conflict is Inevitable

Great leaders understand that avoiding conflict does not cause it to go away. A hallmark of true leadership is the willingness to become comfortable with being uncomfortable and to do what is necessary and not necessarily do what feels right.

Another example, and one that even to this day still astounds me when I think of it, occurred when a manager was asked to resolve an issue involving complaints from two employees about each other.

These two employees worked side-by-side in a room with five other employees. He chose not to speak with the them but instead his solution was to forbid them from having any contact with each other or to even speak to each other.

Employees, Not Servants

Perhaps my favourite was the senior executive who ordered his direct reports to run personal errands for him. Remember, his direct reports are managers and directors and he would instruct them to perform chores like taking his clothes to the dry cleaners, doing his grocery shopping, taking his car through a carwash and driving across town to bring back lunch from his favourite restaurant. All of this on company time.

In his defence, it is possible that he thought it was 1947 and not 2017.

I am sure you can share many stories of your own and it is helpful to recall, when thinking of bad and poor leaders, that we can all learn from their behaviours by remembering that everyone brings great value to the world even if only to serve as being a really good example of a really bad example.

Role models don’t always model desirable behaviours and it is worth remembering that learning what not to do is often as valuable as learning what to do.

Till we read again.


On Saturday, October 28th, I am conducting a 1-day workshop on the Habits of Permanent Weight Loss. This will be a high-energy informative day focusing intently on the mindset of losing weight and keeping it off. Participants will leave with a personalized, detail plan for success.

The workshop is restricted to 20 participants at a one-time introductory price of $190.00 plus GST. This price includes a private coaching session with me as well as a private session with a Registered Dietician.

To register, please visit  www.strategicpathways.net/events


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *