Alchemical Thoughts

On dealing with bad bosses

Posted on: July 22, 2009

I have an interest in leadership as a subject. I also have an interest in topics about bosses and managers, in large part because I am "managed" by others, so to speak. I am not my own boss. I always make the distinction between management and leadership. Leaders can be managers, but not all managers can be leaders. In fact, a lot of managers are lousy both at managing and in leadership.

These are some items I have come across recently in relation to bosses that have caught my eye:

From Bob Sutton's blog:

  • Sutton comments on a post by Scott Berkun that discusses "Top ten reasons managers become assholes."
  • Sutton asks "Do  you end meetings on time?" Another big peeve of mine. It is not just bosses who do not know  how to allot time efficiently for meetings, but bosses that simply do not know how to run a meeting at all. The second item on the post's list–boss not dealing with blabbermouths– is something I encounter continuously. Sometimes, you have to have the guts to tell some self-important blabbermouth to shut the fuck up. If you are the boss, that is your job. Do it.
  • Sutton gives an interview on the topic of "Good boss, bad times."
  • "The effects of asshole bosses on victim's families, friends and partners." Sutton looks at the collateral damage that an asshole boss can have on those close to the victim. When the victim brings the pain and effects of an asshole boss home, it throws the rest of the household into turmoil. Your relationship with your spouse can suffer, and so on. This is something worth thinking about, and yet it is not often considered.
  • "How to avoid being a nasty, clueless, and idiotic boss during the downturn." He cites advice telling bosses to really listen. This often has been the case in my experience where a boss pretends to listen, but you already know that they will pretty much do whatever they want anyways. In other words, the boss's mind is already made up before they even asked for your view or opinion. It is basically an exercise in futility and pretense, and personally, I do find it a lack of respect on the part of the boss when they do that. 

From Inside Higher Ed:

  • Dean Dad looks at "When the Boss is Awful." I think at times the dean does defend bosses a bit much. In my opinion, there are times when a boss is an asshat pure and simple. No amount of searching for a "reasonable explanation" will do in such cases. And such assholes, to use Sutton's term, should not be tolerated in academia or elsewhere. 

From CIO:

  • "How to deal with jerks at work." They are interviewing Bob Sutton about his book, The No Asshole Rule. When it comes to the book, it should be required reading as far as I am concerned; see my review of the book here. As for this particular interview, there are some gems worth reviewing, and not just for bosses.

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