You have the right to remain … a lousy boss!

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Every time I see a new article or blog post lecturing on the characteristics of what makes a great leader, I think the same thing ... Do the masses really believe the majority of business leaders are oblivious to the facts that they should ... be transparent, empower as opposed to micromanage, focus on employee strengths instead of weaknesses, build trust, offer recognition, and follow the many other cliche recommendations these articles so expertly claim to teach?

Wake up people, corporate America has morphed into a place where each is out to get his or her own and, due to the intensifying pressures of our global economy, the window to do so is closing quicker than ever. As a result, the last thing many in power want is a level playing field. Those in the game have already witnessed how the environment can be a very unfair, unforgiving, and cutthroat place, where the best doesn't always make it, much less rise to the top. Only in a perfect world would colleagues engage in healthy competition and try to outperform each other in a productive and cordial way.

Unfortunately, the bitter reality is the workplace is not a day camp ... there is big money to be made, and we all know the type of behavior money attracts; which is why it's no stretch to find that job satisfaction grows proportionately with salary, despite poor leadership.

Most leaders are hired for one reason ... to drive results.

I am the first to applaud the Senior Executive who implemented a new job rotation program and groomed several directors into VP positions, but such good deeds and acts of leadership are moot if the executive did not meet or exceed her business objectives or revenue targets. In fact, one lousy boss could argue that such noble efforts were part of the distraction that led to the missed goals.

In a world that's fueled by immediate gratification, it's no surprise to see most leaders focus on short-term performance at the expense of long-term gains. Let's face it, leaders know that stockholders today care more about top-line growth and earnings per share than low attrition rates or happy front-line employees. When a short-sighted workplace becomes the new norm, this makes the concept of investing in employee development as the first ingredient to be chopped.

Are the lousy bosses of today all out for personal gain, or are they the byproduct of disloyal people?

I'm not trying to play devil's advocate here but before we quickly jump on the bandwagon that employees are great and bosses evil, let's face some troubling facts. A study conducted by Accenture reported that 31% of American employees do not like their boss, while the US Department of Labor Bureau reveals that, despite our recovering unemployment rates, more than 2 million workers voluntarily leave their jobs every month. Lastly, research by Harris Interactive indicates 74 percent of working Americans would today consider finding a new job. Oh, and let's not forget one of my previous blog posts that shared the survey results from Mashable.com, disclosing how 10% of Americans go to work stoned each day. With stats such as these can we really blame those bosses who are more focused on managing up then down?

Ask not what your boss can do for you, ask what you can do for your boss.

If you can't prove to be a stellar employee who repeatedly steps up and comes through for your boss every time the crap hits the fan, you are disillusioned to believe that you have what it takes to become a strong leader.

Working for a great boss is a privilege not an entitlement, and yet so many of us do not view it this way. There is no doubt that many bosses today are flawed, but, as we clearly demonstrated, individual contributors are flawed too. So before you allow yourself to be outraged and point blame, spend less time thinking about the wrongdoings of your boss and more time focusing on building the best you.

Rather than allow a lousy boss to make you physically sick, as indicated by recent studies from the American Psychological Association, let all bad experiences help mold you into the leader you wish to be when your opportunity comes. Similar to parenting, where the victims of bad parents make the concerted effort to do much better. Unfortunately, such behavior denotes the exception as opposed to the rule. The vast majority of victimized children become terrible parents, just as the apprentices of horrible bosses ...

You may have the right to remain a lousy boss, but there's nothing more rewarding than being an exceptional one.

If you are now expecting me to delve into all of the inspiring benefits of being an extraordinary leader, then you need more help than I thought. What I will conclude with is this ... those who are not willing to put forth the time and effort necessary to meet all business objectives, while also proving to be an exceptional boss, aren't worthy of the trip to the big leagues.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. - John Quincy Adams

 

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"Finally a 'manual' for true professionalism in today's corporate workplace. From my seat, I have witnessed far too many times a recurring theme: Rookies, newcomers, young employees all looking to go from A to Z without any stops in between. This book should be a mandatory read for all job applicants and veterans like us who could surely use a refresher. Carmine Continue Reading

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"Carmine presents this treatise against the backdrop of professional baseball; it is a highly entertaining read, providing humor and insight to cement his points and advice. Welcome to the Big Leagues is not only a guide for the corporate neophyte, but a useful guide for evaluation at any level in one’s career. After 30 years in technology development, I have found Continue Reading

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David Tu, President, DCL Inc

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Bettina Koblick, CHRO, Symantec

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Bettina Koblick, CHRO, Symantec

"The corporate rookie of today could benefit from additional support, as the demanding and competitive business landscape has become less forgiving of mistakes and poor decisions. Welcome to the Big Leagues emphasizes the importance of actively managing a host of critical success factors like the ability to drive results, strong collaboration and fiscal responsibility. It provides readers with the much needed Continue Reading

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Peter Gebert, VP Finance, Mannkind Corp

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7 Responses

  1. I love the idea of being a lousy boss, one that promotes and grooms staff. However, I do believe a contract is between two people and turning up stoned for work isn't exactly an endearing quality!
  2. machnolee
    I always appreciate your posts. I am a boss. I try to be a good boss. I just realized how little I actually know about how I am perceived as a boss—having just started my own business this year. You've given me food for thought. A brief comment about the word "prove" when it comes to studies. The American Psychological Association disapproves of the word "prove." In fact, statisticians are taught not to use it in their findings. Studies do not prove anything. They "indicate," "suggest," and "provide evidence for," etc. There's some food for thought for you.
    • Thanks for reading this post with such care and pointing out the word's misuse Zach. I'm grateful to have the eyes of a great attorney. That's an excellent point that I never would have picked up on. Revised with the word indicated. Cheers.
  3. "Your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. - John Quincy Adams" Carmine, this quote that you shared say it all.. we can comment as much as we want but unless our actions are aligned with what is essential to inspire others... we always fail. Thanks for sharing such great and informative article .. _nickc
  4. Hi Carmine, I work with many people who seem to complain too much and even get sick over their "boss" - So, my best take-away here is when you mention "before you allow yourself to be outraged and point blame, spend less time thinking about the wrongdoings of your boss and more time focusing on building the best you." If we work for someone, we cannot allow their negativity (if they are negative) to get us. But more than that, we need to be focusing on our ourselves, our job, etc. Thankfully I don't have to worry about this at all. I've been an entrepreneur for almost ever! -Donna
  5. I have had my fair share of lousy bosses who actually cost the company SERIOUS business. My husband has as well. However, I have had a couple people I felt were lousy FRIENDS but great bosses. Once I left the work building, they were a great friend. I don't know if that makes sense. I think you should be able to look at someone and say "man they SUCK as a person but they make a great boss." I don't see that as being a lousy boss. I feel a lousy boss is more of a person who drives the company into the dirt by poor decisions.
  6. You make some great observations here, Carmine, with much food for thought. It is a two-way street, but any leader worth his salt may have to be tough at times, and act in accordance with wisdom rather than according to whether those under him will like him or not.

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