Don’t be “that” boss

One of the worst bosses I ever served under had a very critical spirit and could always find a way to turn anything into a negative, even accomplishments.

There were many incidents that I still haven’t forgotten.  One involved my telling her about working on a project she’d assigned to me and running into a roadblock that was keeping me from completing it. Her preferred approach wasn’t working but I’d found a work-around and completed the project.

“So in other words you just gave up,” she said.

“No, Debbie Downer, I clearly didn’t give up. I ditched a tactic that wasn’t working and found a way to get it done,” I said. To myself. Years later when I thought of it.

Your words will be remembered

I don’t even remember what the project was any more, which is one of my points. The things we say to our direct reports, coworkers, and bosses will be remembered long after the context is forgotten. So do you want to be remembered as a discouragement or an encouragement? You don’t want to be “that” boss, or coworker, or employee, do you?

The people who stand out in any organization are the ones who not only get things done, but inspire everyone around them to push themselves to get things done too. Those individuals may be department heads or they may be de facto leaders because they’ve established themselves as someone with answers. As Brian Tracy once said, “a leader is one who gets things done by helping others to help themselves.” By the way, if you haven’t discovered Brian Tracy’s blog on motivational leadership, I urge you to give it a good look.

Don’t mess up a good thing

Here’s my other point. That boss of mine inherited my peers and me when she was brought in as department head from outside the organization. I completely understand that a new boss may want to build his/her own team and has every right to do so. But there are good and bad ways to do that. Hers was a very bad way.

Her arrogance and negativity made several long-time, competent employees so miserable that we found other jobs and left the organization as soon as we could. Yes, I was one of those who found a better job and happily handed in my resignation. She was left with reduced headcount and had to scramble to replace several people at once. She also never knew if any of those good people she ran off could have transformed a good team into a great team. That’s not good management.

By the way that arrogance and negativity didn’t go unnoticed. Sadly, it wasn’t confined to a few isolated incidents with her direct reports but was a pattern of behavior. Her actions ultimately alienated some powerful people and word made its way back to her boss. He eventually couldn’t defend her any more and had to let her go.

You definitely don’t want to be “that” person.


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