10 Ways a Terrible Boss Can Still Teach You How to Lead

Terrible bosses are everywhere. They’re no fun to work for, but their lousy leadership does come with a silver lining: valuable “what not to do” lessons on effective leadership.

Here are 10 of the most important areas where you can learn from your boss’s bad example.

1. Lack of decisiveness
Atrophy, entropy, and lethargy hold back people and organizations. Indecisiveness, foot-dragging, distraction, and disengagement impair productivity. Effective leaders don’t keep people waiting for a decision; they are decisive and strong-minded.

2. Lack of vision
Terrible bosses like to think they’re good enough to wing it. They spend their time on day-to-day operations without ever articulating a vision. Effective leaders understand the power of an inspiring, purposeful vision in getting great work from their teams.

3. Lack of delegation
We’ve all had at least one control-freak boss. They’re everywhere, it seems, and their micromanagement cuts off all the oxygen to productivity. Delegating is an art, and the best leaders are those who give their teams the freedom to innovate and the structure to work together at peak performance.

4. Lack of communication
A boss who’s shut up in an office with little communication to the team is missing out on one of the most important elements of leadership. Communication is the key to all relationships. Great leaders take the time to listen, to understand, to ask questions, and to share with people what they need to know.

5. Lack of humility
Insecure bosses often belittle team members and throw around their power–when things become difficult, they turn to insults and abusive language. Never in the history of the world have these tactics caused anyone to do better work. If anything, they fracture teams and cause good people to leave. Develop stress-management skills if you need them, and help others do the same. Learn to find the best in people.

6. Lack of credibility
Anyone–boss or not–who routinely fails to meet commitments and promises loses credibility and trust. Effective leadership means keeping your word. It’s as simple as that.

7. Lack of resolve
Terrible bosses often either seek out conflict or are so conflict-averse that they bury their heads in the sand and hope things will go away on their own. Workplace conflict is a fact of life, and the only way to get through it is to resolve it quickly and fairly.

8. Lack of responsibility
Bad bosses’ first response in any bad situation is to begin covering their own tracks and tagging others with the responsibility. Effective leaders know that by admitting their mistakes they demonstrate that messing up is part of trying and failure is part of succeeding.

9. Lack of positivity
It’s hard to be around negativity all day every day without it getting to you–never mind trying to do anything productive. Encouraging others with positivity and empowerment is the best way to make people feel more appreciated, productive, and motivated.

10. Lack of leadership
Ultimately, a lack of leadership could be the common factor in all terrible bosses: Those who don’t lead, who don’t set the example, who don’t walk their talk are bosses who become ineffective and less influential. Effective leaders will always lead by example, and walk their talk even when no one is watching.


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What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

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