The Legacy of Bad Bosses

images-11Having watched the latest episode of Game of Thrones (season 4, episode 2)  and seeing the death of King Joffrey, it reminded me of what happens when bad bosses leave, the impact that they have had, and how few people are sad to see them go.

I have worked for a few bad bosses in my time, one of whom, when they left there was not a single person sad to see them go.

I mentioned this to a colleague and he said ‘it isn’t true, because I cried when our boss had left’.

I said ‘really’, and he said ‘yes, I opened the champagne bottle too quickly and the cork hit me in the eye’. Then he walked off laughing to himself.

Bad bosses don’t just kill morale, they can create a culture of fear where people just go through the motions, only doing what they have been asked, never going the extra mile or looking to be innovative in order to make things better.

Their teams are fearful that if any new idea fails they will be criticised and humiliated, or just as bad, if successful, then the credit for their work will be stolen by the bad boss.

This limits what departments or firms can achieve under bad bosses, they will never achieve their full potential as this needs the teams to have trust in their boss and belief in themselves.

Neither of these are things which bad bosses look to nurture within an organisation.

One bad boss I knew, I didn’t have the pleasure to work for him as he was a peer, but he was truly despised, he didn’t trust his people and insisted on making all decisions himself, even thought he had never worked in that area previously.

He made ludicrous commitments which the team had no chance to meet or agreed to impossible deadlines because he lacked the understanding to know what was and wasn’t possible, and was yet too arrogant to ask his team for help, even thought they would have gladly given it.

Bosses such as these can cause untold damage to a company’s culture.

Not just because of the impact of the bad boss, but because it can make the teams ask themselves, what kind of company would put someone like that into a leadership position and leave them there when it was blatantly obvious that they were bad leader. 

Even when the leader has finally left, the teams can still be demotivated because they now have lost a little trust in the company, and they cannot be sure that they won’t be lumbered with another bad boss in the future, wondering what possessed them to put the leader in charge in the first place.

Whats the worst boss you have worked for and what was the legacy that they left?

Gordon Tredgold

#Leadership Principles