That horrible boss!

We have all had a bad boss, and it has caused us stress, made us feel in conflict, and ultimately made us hate our jobs.

Several years ago I worked for someone that I did not understand and could not figure out, this person made decisions that did not make sense and acted contrary to what I thought was the goal of the job.  It took a long time, but finally I started to get to know my boss and understood why the decisions were made, but it wasn’t just about the boss, the conflict I felt was also about the culture in which we worked.  We worked in a highly extrinsically motivated culture, that was driven by power, money, and influence. In highly extrinsic cultures, people who are motivated by extrinsic motivators like money, tend to NOT be as focused on the employee and we can perceive them as cruel, hardened, and selfish. Personally, I am more intrinsically motivated and am motivated from helping people, adding value, and the desire to feel good at the end of the day.


Ultimately what I found out was that it wasn’t the boss that was the problem, the problem was me. I was not a good fit for the culture at work. We must ask ourselves, why are we on comfortable?

One of my favorite professors at the Carlson School of Management, Mary Zellmer-Bruhn teaches Organizational Behavior.  At the beginning of our class she asked us to ask ourselves not react to a situation, but instead ask why we were uncomfortable. I have found this to be very valuable advice, because we can be triggered by behavior in others and it has nothing to do with the situation but more to do with how we interpret the situation.

A good friend of mine also told me that what we don’t like in others is what we don’t like it ourselves, and it can be very hard to have the self reflection, introspection, and mindful analysis to understand this conflict.

Have you had a horrible boss and what did you learn?


4 Replies to “That horrible boss!”

  1. I like your comment about finding sitiuation with a bad boss starts between our ears. It is there. The challenge is for the person to first recognize this. Without self-awareness of an issue with the outside world comes from our interpretation of that issue from within can we really do something about it. When in traffic and you are cut off what is a first reaction? We speak a few expletives and blame that driver as the cause of the situation and where the problem lies. Wrong. Those actions are external stimuli we gather and process. True situational control comes from within and recognizing situation, and response is all on us and based on our assumptions. Someone cuts me off in traffic I get pissed off at them. I do this based on very minor support facts, i.e. rely on assumptions to fill the gabs. If I knew the driver had a pregnant wife in the car and rushing to the hospital would our conscious mind have diffferent reaction? I think so. We must consider our level and basis for your perceptions based on facts, assumptions and fiction.

    I have had horrible bosses but that is such a high generally observation. I would bet that determination is based on fact the boss had much more terrible characteristics then positive ones. However, there are still positive ones that have to be considered in classifying/labeling someone a horrible boss. One of mine I could say I learned and incredible lot from that was very valuable throughout the rest of my career. Still think he was a horrible boss for other facts but consider him a great boss for the value he provided me in m career knowledge and advancement. Guess to takes the time and introspection to see the details underlying a person we label and classify a certain way.

  2. I think you’re right when saying it’s the company culture and sometimes we have to admit that we’re just not a good fit. Sometimes it takes a person multiple tries before understanding that.

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