Ten Temptations of a Bad Boss

You can spot them a mile away.  The bad bosses of business are everywhere – pretending to hide in plain sight.  Unbeknownst to the bad boss, his or her actions are overruling all potential value brought to the table.  These 10 temptations are worth seeing in writing and calling attention to, thereby ensuring that we don’t inadvertently succumb to the temptations ourselves. 

  1. They fire fight – The lack of planning results in everything becoming an emergency.  The bad boss is too busy to plan so by 9am they are exhausted and exhaust everyone else around them.  They jump from one fire to another lacking the foresight to see it coming or the astuteness to solve the root cause of the problem before the blaze is already well underway.
  2. They Forget to Delegate – Stating that they are too busy to get unbusy results in the bad boss refusing to delegate.  Believing that if they want something done right, then in it’s best to do it themselves, they hoard the work.  The end result of course, is that the bad bosses do nothing to develop their team.  And therefore never have a chance to climb out of the abyss of overworked.
  3. They Make Excuses – Successful people never make excuses, instead choosing to believe that they can control all outcomes.  In contrast, when things don’t go according to plan, the bad boss always blames something other than themselves.  The victim to circumstance card being played results in the bad boss never learning and therefore endlessly doomed to repeating the same miserable outcomes.
  4. They Get Overly Emotional – Bad bosses are always overly emotional.  Extreme highs are offset by extreme lows which manifest into yelling, anger, depression and a host of negative emotions that always get pushed down to the team.  They overcompensate for the lack of feeling like they have it together and crush the productivity of the entire team in the process.
  5. They Cancel Meetings – The bad boss' inability to plan shows up in another time wasting result – they cancel meetings usually right before they are set to occur.  Feeling overwhelmed and not planning accordingly, the bad boss realizes that he is unprepared within minutes of the meeting.  Unfortunately, the team quickly learns that they too need not prepare for future meetings assuming that they will also be canceled.
  6. They Threaten Consequences for Failure – Never so much as hearing the name Machiavelli, the bad boss rules with a stick and never a carrot.  Threatening pink slips for targets not being met by the team tends to be the rule of law.  Like a dictator ruling over a kingdom obtained from a coup, the bad boss believes that her power is absolute and those who are insubordinate should be dealt with swiftly.
  7. They Change the Goal Line – The flavor of the month doesn’t just apply to ice cream shops.  Bad bosses constantly shift the goal lines making success as elusive for the team as finding the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Of course, when no one on the team ever reaches the goal line there is never the opportunity to celebrate success. 
  8. They Over-commit – The lack of team focus stemming from poor decision making by the bad boss also results in the bad boss not having a handle on the day to day workload of the team.  Without that knowledge, every commitment runs the risk of being an over-committing to the already overworked team. 
  9. They Decide without Obtaining Buy In – Along with the over commitment problem discussed above, the bad boss makes decisions without getting team member buy in.  This happens as the bad boss is eager to show superiors that he or she has a handle on things and can make decisions on the fly.  Great bosses understand that most decisions made on behalf of the team require buy in on the front end to be successful.  This fact gets missed on the bad bosses.
  10. They Play Favorites – Last but certainly not least, the rewards are handled out by bad bosses not based on merit but based on politics.  Team members learn quickly that the way to get ahead and make more money is by joining the inner circle achievable only by doing whatever is necessary to get on and stay on the good side of the bad boss.  Politics reign supreme and become the de facto culture of the team. 

Is this an exhaustive list?  Of course not.  Comment below if you have others to add in which you’ve seen play out in the workforce.