After publishing my blog post titled “The 13 Destructive Behaviors of Toxic Bosses” a couple of weeks ago, I received several inquiries about how one might go about surviving these bosses, which prompted me to publish this post. I hope that the suggestions here will be useful and beneficial to the unfortunately large number of people out there who are working for bosses who have no clue how to be leaders. Most workplaces put a great deal of emphasis on hiring the best talent out there and bringing in extraordinary people, only to make them feel less than ordinary by relegating them to toil under an unqualified, toxic boss. Great organizations ensure that their leadership team is enlightened because they know that great leaders can take even seemingly “ordinary” people and bring out the extraordinary in them.
If you have been following my work for any significant amount of time, you know that I am not one to dwell on the negative behavior of others. My focus is on introspection and building resilience and developing transformative insight in the face of adversity. I believe in taking responsibility for not only my own actions, but also for my responses to other people’s actions. As a leader, no matter where you are on the organizational chart, you always benefit from declaring yourself “The One” and being pro-active rather than reacting to other circumstances or people. This is especially true for those of us who have to deal with toxic bosses.
Many of us secretly wish we had more authority or fantasize about how we would handle things if one day we were the boss. Some of us tell ourselves that, if only we were in charge, things would be different, while others have resigned themselves to being victims of circumstances that we believe we have no power to change. .For those of you who are in either place, the good news is that you don’t have to be the boss to start a transformation at your workplace. You may not have ultimate power and authority to make all the decisions, and your progress may be hindered by some of the policies and practices over which you don’t have direct influence, but if you are truly committed to transforming the experience of your workplace, there is a lot you can do to make it happen no matter where you are on the organizational chart. This episode is intended to encourage you to take on leading a culture transformation exactly where you are right now and give you some ideas on how you might make that happen.
Bosses come in all forms and types. While the most basic definition of a boss is “the person in charge,” not all bosses are created equal, if you will. By far, the most common type of boss is the standard, inoffensive “just doing my job” boss. They faithfully carry out their administrative duties, hire and fire people as needed, and settle into their niche of maintaining the status quo harmoniously within the organization. They don’t negatively impact their people, but they don’t necessarily leave a memorable mark on their lives either. This standard type of boss is somewhere in the middle of the bell curve, and of course there’s nothing wrong with this. But it is when we get to the outer edges of that bell curve, that’s when things get interesting. On the edges is where you find the outliers or archetypal bosses, both good and bad, and that’s what I’d like to explore briefly today.
I know that I promised that we would be back to our regularly schedule blog posts this week, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was still a bit more to elaborate on regarding the topic of my previous post, i.e. “How Not to Be a Leader.” If you haven’t already, I recommend that you read that post before this one, because this is a direct continuation under the assumption that readers are familiar with the ideas discussed previously. With that said, this is intended to be more of an addendum to my previous post, rather than the second part in earnest, and so it will (hopefully) be a slightly more focused treatment of a few more elements of not being a leader. Without further ado, let’s get into it.