Good boss is hard to get

In this WSJ (India) blog, the writer talks about 4 types of ‘horrible bosses’ and goes on to record the stories of one of their reports in each category:

The Control Freak – ..boss demanded “mandatory hourly updates on anything and everything.” These included things like the number of press releases Ms. Banerjee had emailed and details of follow-up calls subsequently made..

The Bully – ..boss bullied him into doing odd jobs: Depositing school fees for his eight-year-old daughter, purchasing groceries for his household and servicing his car at a workshop, and others. “My boss treated me like his personal butler,”..

The Insecure Boss – (The boss)..started pulling her down in front of seniors and claimed sole credit for her work..

The Pessimist – .. had a negative attitude on everything, which brought down the morale of the entire team. In the boss’ view, most of her team was “always underperforming,” her fellow co-workers were too “whiny,” and her superiors “too demanding,” ..

All of us have our own stories of bosses we (or our friends) have seen and dealt with. When I have analyzed these stories and my personal experiences, I see a few common reasons why a boss behaves in these weird ways:

  • Rookie Manager – This is by far the most common reason. People get promoted to be a boss for someone, even when they have neither displayed any capability to manage, nor have they been trained to be so. In technology companies, it is very common to promote the best technical performer into management position, even though these 2 are orthogonal skills and can result in disastrous situations.
  • Success breeds contempt – When something has worked for you in the past, you tend to think it will work for you now and in future too. Sadly, for management (and for many other positions), it is not the case. For example, managers who micro-manage have seen lots of success with this style, and hence they don’t change the style even when their reports hate it.
  • Poor interpersonal awareness – Not everyone can understand what impact they have on others with their style. So whatever random style they start with, it tends to stay with them.
  • No role model – There aren’t many good managers/leaders to go by. So it is not surprising that many managers haven’t worked with good managers, and so they haven’t been exposed to the value and impact of good management. These people start with a style they think works and then stick with it way longer they need to.

What is your take on why horrible bosses exist in corporate world?


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One thought on “Good boss is hard to get

  1. Interesting article.
    I wish I can see better role managers in companies today.
    Companies need to make changes on different ways on guiding people and companies today.

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