Why Working for a Bad Boss Can Be Good

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Boston.com recently conducted a survey asking their readers to relay stories of their really bad bosses.

Some of the top stories include:

When things get violent – Sometimes, things get more than heated. One reader relayed that his boss “threw me up against the wall, screaming and spitting, and told me to take my glasses off so he can punch me in the face.

That awkward moment when… The boss came in to a meeting with his wife, and then "proceeded to scream at her and tell her what a moron she was in front of everyone."

Green-eyed monster – Another reader's boss was upset about her recent promotion. "She suggested it was my looks that got me the promotion as opposed to my skills."




The just shut up and listen boss – At one meeting, another reader said that the new boss’s first words were 'I will talk, you will listen! If you don't like it, you can leave! "

There's no time for lunch boss – "I was once told by the owners of the company that because I am salaried that they 'own me' 24/7, 365 days a year.”

Harassment – There’s always that one boss, isn’t there? "I would walk up the stairs and my boss would make comments after I went by and he'd say under his breath 'Morning, thunder thighs,' then sit in the file room on the counter and check out the women walking down the street."

And, of course, there's always the drunk boss – One reader wrote about a rather awful surprise. "He exposed himself at the company Christmas party and put his eyeglasses on a particular part of his lower extremity and passed out."

Three Powerful Takeaways from Working with a Bad Boss

Seems like we’ve all had our share of a few bad bosses. It’s certainly not pleasant while you are in the middle of it but there’s actually three powerful things you can learn from a bad boss.




1. Don’t Be the New A-hole

Make a list of everything they do that is wrong, bad, evil, demoralizing, etc. and never do it to others. You will walk away as a better manager and a better leader as an outcome to this experience.

Bad behavior can become contagious if you’re not careful. Be sure you stay true to your own philosophy on leadership.

Be the boss you wish you had.

2. Wisdom




You can learn as much from a bad boss as you can from a good one. Observe carefully. Pay attention to the impact that your boss’s behavior has on your co-workers. Leverage every collaboration to improve your own leadership skills.

Knowing how to effectively deal with and lead others is a critical skill at work. If you observe a pattern of ineffectiveness, you can get a better sense going forward of what works and what doesn’t.

On the flip side, there may be crucial traits and competencies that your boss has that you can carry forward. Maybe they really know how to get the job done, know how to hold people accountable, or can execute a project with ease. Take these characteristics onward and just drop what makes it painful for others.

3. Toughness and Character

What doesn't kill you will make you a stronger leader.




Remember, managing isn't easy, for your boss or for you. Consider it a learning experience. Bad bosses help you learn the cold realities that hit us in the face. But, that also helps prepare us for future interactions and situations.

You run faster on a smooth surface if you practice running on hills and mountains.

Working for a bad boss can and will test your levels of fortitude. Being able to remain unflappable and cool under pressure will bode well for you as you advance in your career.

Mental toughness will keep you strong in the face of adversity. You’ll learn focus and determination despite the challenges you encounter.

In essence, a good boss teaches you what to do, while a bad boss dictates to you what not to do. Yet, dealing with a bad boss is one of those necessary evils you’ll most likely encounter at some point. Know when to move on and get away from your boss but always remember the takeaways from working with a bad manager so you can avoid doing the same.


This Article was originally written by Jan Johnston O. on LinkedIn

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