Thanks For Bad Bosses

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, many people take the time to reflect on the things for which they’re thankful. When I was managing a team, I was hopeful that I made the lists in my team’s minds since having a good supervisor can make the work day seem not like work at all.

What always struck me when I worked in large offices was that there are really bad bosses. I had a few and I was peers with quite a few more. I even supervised a couple although their skills got better fairly quickly or they moved on. That’s not to say that I never had great or even good bosses. I was lucky to have had many of them. But the bad ones really stood out, and in a weird way I give thanks for them as well since they provided daily examples of what NOT to do.

Why were they bad? More importantly, what can you take away as learnings from the suffering of their subordinates?  Well, first I always shook my head at the bosses who confused what they did with who they are.  The bad ones all had a sense of entitlement; the great ones felt like jut another teammate.  You can spot the great ones – they’re leaders and would be so even if they didn’t have the title.  People come to them for help and guidance.  Bad bosses get avoided like the plague.

Great bosses have people who work “with” them, not “for” them.  Listen carefully the next time a supervisor mentions someone on his staff for that word.  You might also think that a great boss is completely incompetent.  Every time something goes wrong in their area, it’s the boss who says they’re to blame.  That is because the great ones take blame for every bad event that occurs while giving as much credit as they can to members of their team.

Finally, you’ve heard the old truism that there’s no “I” in “team.”  Great bosses believe that and they make sure that every member of their staff gets it.

So how about it.  Are you as thankful as I am for all the bad bosses that show you the light of effective management, or have you been cursed with only great bosses in your life?

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