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Top 7 Myths about Bad Bosses

There’s no denying it: bad bosses exist. In fact, according to the survey we conducted for our book, almost everyone (99.6% of survey respondents) has had a bad boss at some point in time. 

But why? One reason is because of the myths that exist, those misconceptions that get in the way of us being the great boss we want and need to be. Here are seven that we address and bust throughout our book (Bad Bosses Ruin Lives: The Building Blocks for Being a Great Boss), highlighting them so that you and others don’t repeat them yourself. 

  1. All bad bosses know that they’re bad bosses – I’m absolutely sure that if we went to the bosses of those we surveyed, the majority would be shocked to hear that their employees thought they were a bad boss. But mathematically, that can’t be right. We know that bad bosses exist. This is why it’s even more important for you, as a boss, to be self-aware, understanding why, when, and how you may take on bad boss traits, and then overcome them to take actions to be a great one.

  2. You’re either a bad, good, or great boss  – When it comes to being a boss, it is never either/or, all, or nothing. We all have a mix of traits, some bad, some good, and some great. The reality is that there are shades of gray. They come and go based on the situation, the person, and even what’s happening in our lives. The key is understanding what they are and how to deal with and improve them. And keep in mind that even great bosses have bad boss traits.

  3. Everyone wants the same things from their boss – If all our people were the same, life would be easy, and being a great boss would be easy. We’d have one set of instructions to learn, and use them over and over again with our people. But that’s not how it is. Your people all want and need different things from you, and for this reason, you need to understand and adapt so that we can be a great boss to each and every one of them, whatever that looks like.

  4. There are only a few skills you need to learn to be a great boss – Just like there is not one set of instructions, there aren’t one, two, or three skills to learn, and bang, you’re a great boss. If only! There are a wide variety of skills you need to learn so that you can handle all that your people, your business, and the world throw at you.

  5. Once you get it right it’s smooth sailing – Wouldn’t it be great if once you finished this book, or any book, or took a course, and presto, you had what it took to be a great boss? It would, but it isn’t! And that’s because being a great boss requires introspection and feedback, commitment and devotion. It is not simple and it is not easy. And to make it even more challenging, just when you think you’ve mastered something things change, and what worked one day in one situation and with one person may not work the next day. If you want to be a great, or at least a good boss, you need to practice, and at the same time adopt a flexible and fluid attitude and approach, setting you up to ride the waves and keep on sailing.

  6. You get promoted because you’re a great boss – Wrong, you get promoted to be a boss because you were able to do your previous job well. And though this can help you teach your people all that you’ve learned, it’s not automatically going to make you a great boss. In fact, as a new boss, you’re going to have to let go of being the person who knew everything, had all the answers, and focused on your performance. You’ll need to do things very differently going forward. As Ryan Hawk says in his book Welcome to Management, “Being a great manager has nothing to do with how well you performed in your old job.

  7. Bad bosses don’t ruin lives – Not every bad boss ruins lives, for as we’ve said, there are different degrees and levels of bad bosses. But we’ve heard the stories, we’ve had it happen to us personally, and we can say without hesitation that there are definitely bad bosses who are indeed ruining lives. They are having such a profound impact on how they’re making their people feel at work that they can’t walk away from it, shake it, or wash it off, and they bring it home. Home to their family, their friends, and their lives. As a boss, we know this is the last thing you want to do. That’s why we are on this mission to set you up for success, being a great boss who sends your people home after a rewarding day at work to have a great day and a great life.

If we are ever going to rid the world of bad bosses, helping each and every one of us be great, we need to bust these myths. We need to accept that there are bad boss traits in all of us, not just the few. We need to discuss and understand our bad boss traits so that we can accept those that apply to us, instead of denying that they exist. And we need to equip ourselves with new skills so we’re able to tackle our bad boss traits, instead of trying to be a great boss using bad boss techniques and approaches. We need to walk into them and not away from them. Good luck!


If you’d like to learn more about your boss traits, good, bad and great, you can take our free online assessment test by click on this link.

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