Learning from a Bad Boss

Learning From A Bad BossMany things (both good and bad) can happen in the workplace. One of worst is working under a bad boss. The way a boss can be bad is as varied as management styles—a bad boss can either disrespectful, incompetent  offensive, arrogant or any combination.

They could even be a decent person, but have poor leadership skills.

Having a lousy boss doesn’t mean you cannot learn how to be a better employee—and perhaps a better boss  later on in your career.

Here are several ways you can learn from a terrible boss—and improve your own future:

Lack of trust:

The first casualty when a boss is controlling and manipulative is trust. A good supervisor, as well as a good leader, must build trust with their subordinates and co-workers. This is probably the most powerful lesson you can learn by working with a bad boss.

Wasted effort:

Consider productivity when working with a bad boss. Notice how much wasted effort is spent to make things happen the way they want.

Work can be so much easier — all that time used to nitpick  criticize and micromanage. Look at the negative energy—in some cases even yelling and screaming —to force people to act. How much better everyone’s time would be spent collaborating.

Watch how others react, how they adapt to the effort to undermine their success. Soon co-workers will eagerly try to resist the efforts of the boss. Such a waste!

Now, imagine applying that energy in a more positive, cooperative manner. A great boss is someone who is a builder of teams, not an obstacle for them.


What valuable lessons can be learned through a bad boss? When you work with one, how does that make you feel—is it motivated or disheartened? Are you assertive? Do you increase your productivity, or do the absolute least to get by?


A lousy boss will rarely change an awful decision—change is seen as a sign of weakness. Rigid attitudes are the hallmark of poor leadership—they do anything to avoid changing attitude, even when presented with new and better information.


If there is only one point to this exercise, observe how other members of the management staff views your boss. Are they actually unaware, or are they willfully blind to the situation, only “playing the game?”

Is your bad boss a part of a larger culture of manipulation and incompetence? Often a poor corporate culture allows incompetent employees to treat others that way—just to make those up the chain of command look better?

The environment of the workplace must be one of mutual respect, since a engaged workforce is linked to higher productivity—and success.

Have you ever worked under a horrible boss? What did you do, or what did you learn? Let us know in the comments.

Published by @philammann

Put. That coffee. Down. Writer/editor/whatever it takes. @margaretj13 is my (much) better half. Website: FloridaPolitics.com Email: phil@floridapolitics.com Twitter: @PhilAmmann

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