Bad Leadership Can Help You Thrive
Thanks to the treacherous jerks at work, I’m living my best life.
I was writing by my pool when I let out a loud belly laugh. I had an epiphany: my experiences with bad leadership shaped both the direction and the velocity of my career. I laughed so long and so hard that I jumped into the pool to stop so I could breathe.
It amuses me now to consider how serious it seemed when I encountered treacherous jerks at work. Sometimes I came out ahead. Sometimes my career was temporally derailed, but every time I learned a lesson that served me well in the future. While there are numerous examples of bad management contact helping me become more skillful, below are two of the most impactful instances.
Early in my career, I was a new design engineer working for a more experienced engineer. We were working together on a tough project or so I thought. It was not until we presented our project to management I realized I had completed all the work.
Both of our names were on the design, but I had designed and prepared every item. I remember thinking, “What did he do for six months?” I answered my question. “He watched me work, then took 1/2 the credit, that is what he did.”
That single lesson served me well throughout my career. No matter my place on the team, as the leader or as the follower, I insisted my teams routinely meet to review progress. I willingly prepared the metrics and set up the meetings to protect myself. While doing so, I accidentally illustrated my budding Leadership skills to many. I became an expert in performance metrics and team management. Those team management skills facilitated many promotions.
Another great lesson occurred when one of my peers was my bosses’ friend. The peer was a masochistic jerk. We were on opposite sides of many issues. He did all he could to make mine and my team’s life hell including whispering half-truths and misleading information in the bosses ear.
Pulling someone down will never help you reach the top — Kushandwizdom
Corporate promoted our boss. They put a new management team in place. New executive management always has the duty and the right to form a team that will enable them to meet their objectives. When the new management came in, my peer “helped” them decide that I did not fit the new vision for the organization. The new management team did not talk to me. That was bad business and unworthy of them as the new leaders of the organization.
The lesson learned was when new management comes on board; it is your responsibility to make sure the new team understands your job and your duties. If you don’t define yourself, somebody else will.
The next time I experienced a take-over, I was in the new team’s face, shaping their perceptions of me and my performance before anyone else could.
The reason I laughed so hard was how personally I took the actions upper management were taking. It was only when I was promoted to Vice-President that I realized the truth.
These guys were not evil James Bond villain masterminds who were out to get me. They were bad leaders to everyone: their team, their colleagues, the company. They mismanaged everyone including themselves.
As it was happening, no one could have told me that the treatment was not targeted at me; I had to learn that for myself. I would have handled the situation better if I had been more aware of what was actually happening.
It is a conundrum that bad leadership provoked the focused behavior that caused me to be successful. Without those situations, two of my greatest skills may not have been developed.
If you run into a treacherous jerk, stop and think carefully about your situation. Is it you or is it everyone? If it is everyone, run away and run away fast. The jerk in a position of power will not change their behavior. They have the capability to set fire to the organization. You want to be far enough away to not be burned.
If it is about you, face the situation head-on. Understand that you are in an unusual situation. You must act to protect yourself or, again, you must engineer a way out that is also a win for you. A golden handshake (or a golden boot) is a great way to leave a bad situation. Finding a new position, on your timetable, is an even better option.
When told of my former peers’ and bosses’ current exploits, I think of karma. I wish no one harm, but it makes me smile that they are still working. Their days are full of crisis and chaos, often of their own making. That is why I broke out laughing. When you really ruminate about it, their current situations are as amusing AF.
That could have been me. I could still be right there helping make those ridiculously tough decisions. Instead, my experiences with bad bosses accelerated my career so I am out.
I am living my best life following my dreams. I travel. I write. I have time to spend with my family and friends. My days are filled with laughter and love.
As I watch my former colleagues get everything they deserve, I think, “Life is good. Thank you for your help.”
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I can be reached at https://www.tonicrowewriter.com/