#094: 15 Amazing Lessons I Learned from Bad Bosses [Podcast]

I have had over twenty bosses in my career. One was great, most were average, and more than a few were downright terrible. Surprisingly, I learned the most from the bad ones.

The problem is that the bad bosses make you so miserable, sometimes you fail to appreciate how much you are learning. While I wouldn’t want to work for those bosses again, I wouldn’t trade what they taught me—even if it was unintentional.

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So here are fifteen semi-random lessons I learned from bad bosses. I want you to have the opportunity to go to school on my experience.

  1. Bosses create an emotional climate with their attitudes and behaviors.
  2. The higher up you are, the more people read into everything you say and do. Stuff gets amplified as it moves downstream.
  3. A word of encouragement can literally make someone’s week. Conversely, a harsh word can ruin it.
  4. Hire the right people then trust them to do their job.
  5. Don’t ever intentionally embarrass people in front of their boss, their peers, or their direct reports.
  6. Get both sides of the story before you take action.
  7. Tell the truth; then you don’t have to remember what you said.
  8. Don’t get stuck in the paralysis of analysis. Pull the trigger.
  9. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want published on the front page of the paper.
  10. Don’t ever ask your people to do something you are unwilling to do yourself.
  11. Respect other people’s time, especially those under you.
  12. Follow-through on your commitments, even when it is inconvenient or expensive.
  13. Don’t be ambitious to get promoted. Instead, focus on serving and doing a great job.
  14. Be responsive to everyone at every level. You never know who may be your next boss.
  15. Do not complain about your boss to anyone who is not part of the solution. If you can’t keep from complaining, then have the integrity to quit.

The bottom line is this: You can learn from anyone. If you don’t work for a great leader, don’t despair. Some of the lessons that impact you the most will come from the leaders who impressed you the least.

Assume this: you have exactly the leader you need right now to learn what you need to go to the next level.

Listener Questions

  1. Elizabeth Young asked, “Someone else has already taken my name for their blog. What should I use?”
  2. Joy McMillan asked, “How do you promote your products or services without sounding so self-promotional?”
  3. Rick Conklin asked, “Do you recommend a professional blog for your professional thoughts and comments and a personal blog for your personal thoughts and comments?”

Tip of the Week

Have you ever ended up with twenty-plus tabs open in your browser? I have. There are two major problems with this. First, it takes up RAM memory and can slow down your computer. Second, it just creates unnecessary clutter.

The reason I used to leave these tabs open is because I wanted to be able to come back to articles or product pages and read them when I have more time. Some people use Pocket or InstaPaper. This clips the post or webpage and save it, so you can read it later. Both are excellent applications.

But, honestly, I don’t need another single-purpose application like this. I just use Evernote. All you have to do is install the Evernote Web Clipper. This is a really cool browser extension that works with almost any browser. I use it with Chrome.

When I find an article I want to read, I simply click the little Evernote button on my browser. I save almost everything to my “Cabinet” notebook. I also add a “read later” tag. (I might add other tags as well.)

I have a saved search set up called “Read Later.” Periodically, I go into Evernote and catch up on my reading. When I am done with the article, I remove the Read Later tag, so it won’t show up in the search.

The nice thing about this, is I don’t have to add another app, and the articles are available on all my devices, because Evernote is on all my devices.

Special Announcements

  1. I am pleased to announce that the Get Noticed! Theme for WordPress is finally available. In fact, we just started shipping yesterday, May 13th. This has been a long time coming.

    I announced the theme over a year ago. Since that time, we have had almost one thousand people test it. We have been issued more than thirty updates. I can’t guarantee we’ve squished all the bugs, but it is about as rock-solid as you can get.

    I built this theme with my developer, Andrew Buckman, specifically for people like you who have a burning desire to get your message out but don’t have the time to tinker with complicated technology. This theme is simple to install and a joy to use. It is the fastest way I know to get up and running fast, so you can do what you do best: tell your story, engage with your readers, and build a large and loyal following.

    You can get all the details at GetNoticedTheme.com. It’s available NOW.

  2. If you have a question, comment, thought or concern, please leave me a voicemail:

    This is a terrific way to cross-promote your blog or website, because, if I use your question on the show, I will link to it.

Episode Resources

In this episode I mentioned several resources, including:

Show Transcript

You can download a complete, word-for-word transcript of this episode here, courtesy of Ginger Schell, a professional transcriptionist, who handles all my transcription needs.

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Question: What lessons have you learned from a bad boss, client, or partner?

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