Learning from Bad Bosses

Have you ever learned something significant from a bad boss? Research has uncovered the twelve top characteristics of bad managers, which include features like arrogance, poor directions, and lack of effective feedback.[i] However, Sturt and Nordstrom (2015) purported that bad management examples can be just as powerful an illustration as positive examples.[ii]

Over time, managers can settle into patterns based on prior success, while environmental changes such as generational differences create new challenges for managers that can render existing patterns of managing as obsolete. Without ongoing learning and skills development, today’s manager can go from effective to ineffective in a short period of time. Even so, subordinates can learn what not to do from a bad boss.

If you are working for a bad boss, try to make the most of the learning opportunity available at the moment. It may seem counter-intuitive, but a bad boss can be a temporary asset!

  • What lessons have you learned from a bad boss – your own boss, or in observation of someone who was a bad boss of others?
  • How have your leadership competencies been further enhanced as a result of experiencing a bad boss?

For a biblical perspective on working for ‘good masters and bad ones,’ read the words of Peter in 1 Peter 2:18-24. The Message makes the point quite clear.

[i] Longenecker, C. O. (2011). Characteristics of really bad bosses. Industrial Management, 53(5), 10–15. Retrieved from http://www.iienet.org/magazine

[ii] Sturt, D., & Nordstrom, T. (2015). Bad bosses could be good! Leadership Excellence Essentials, 32(6), 17–18. Retrieved from http://www.hr.com/


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