Good Lessons from Bad Leadership

“Never waste a good opportunity to learn from a bad boss.” Unknown

Leaders should help with the burden of work, not add to it. However, all of us are going to experience leaders who complicate, derail, and exasperate. Difficult leaders provide opportunities to learn and grow, given you’ve got the right attitude. As the line goes from the movie “Armageddon,” – embrace the horror! Look at it as a learning opportunity.

1. Micro-managers. Leaders who want to be involved in every decision can make you crazy, wondering why they don’t trust you to make decisions. Take this opportunity to become detail-oriented, delving into the nooks and crannies of your operation. Think of it as a game to root out the issues and opportunities before your detail-obsessed manager.

2.  Playing favorites. Truth be told, all leaders have favorites. Most are smart enough not to make it screamingly obvious, but if you work for someone who clearly sets a peer on a higher pedestal than you – figure out why. Are they a better communicator? More innovative? What can you learn from this peer that can help you contribute at a higher level?

3. Bully. Whether on the playground, social media or the workplace, bullies have low self-esteem and demean others to maintain perceived dignity and superiority. In other words, bullies feel good when they can control or hurt people. Don’t blame yourself, don’t respond in kind, be overly polite, be calm. Be assertive and specific if you need to defend yourself. You can learn from this by being over-prepared for the bully, with facts, figures, and data.

4.  Incompetent. Yeah. It happens. You’ve got to figure out how to be competent in spite of working for someone that doesn’t know what they are doing. Find opportunities for “teachable moments” in your interactions. It will hone your skills for dealing with customers that look to you for help in understanding complex matters.

5. Is it you? The workplace isn’t a one-way street, it’s a multi-directional omni-channel of relationships. Be honest with yourself about the relationship with your manager and your role in a constructive, professional dynamic. Conferring with a trusted mentor can help provide perspective.

If you take the attitude that you can learn from the experience vs. suffering in silence or worse yet, picking up bad habits, you will become more resilient and competent. However, at some point you will have to decide if it is no longer in your best interest to remain working for the bad leader. People quit leaders more often than they quit organizations.

Even poor leaders have their uses.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” Charles Dickens, author

(Important note: Lest I be misunderstood, leaders who are unethical, flout company policy, or break the law should be given short shrift. Most organizations have pathways through human resources or audit departments to address unacceptable and/or illegal behaviors.)

Worth considering:

Dyn, the popular DNS provider, more recently better known as the victim of a denial of service attack in October , is being acquired by Oracle. This is of particular interest to those of us in the #603 (otherwise known as New Hampshire).

The end of November brings us Thanksgiving, Black Friday, #ShopSmall Saturday, Cyber Monday and #GivingTuesday. This year Cyber Monday online sales reportedly racked up $3.45 billion . Meanwhile, #GivingTuesday yielded $168 million.

And just because I like the quote: “I like good strong words that mean something.” Louisa May Alcott, author.

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