The Gift of Poor Leadership

It has been years since I experienced truly bad leadership but the lessons have stuck with me and I appreciate them.  These experiences have become valuable touchstones – literal pictures of what I’m determined never to be or emulate. They work in all of life’s arenas: company, client, community, family, and friendship.

Here are some of the potential payoffs. Negative leadership experiences can help us develop empathy for others as they show us what it feels like to be discouraged by someone we look up to. Developing self-awareness is the first step toward emotional intelligence.  These experiences can push us forward in our EQ path in that we have first-hand knowledge of the impact words have on others. The most valuable lesson of all is that recalling these instances can serve as a strong reminder that we all have shortcomings, some of which we may not have yet identified.

What is required of us to turn toxic work relationships into valuable life lessons?  Courage, for one thing.  It takes bravery to ask oneself what role we might be playing in the bad relationship.  The other quality that will move us miles forward is curiosity.  Why is this person acting the way they are?  What would happen if you met privately with this person for feedback on your performance?  There is an excellent article in the resource list below with some pretty creative coping mechanisms – see Work Nightmare No.1 – The Very Bad Boss.  Despite its title this is a forward-looking piece with solid advice.



2 Replies to “The Gift of Poor Leadership”

  1. A Toxic boss is not necessarily a poor leader. This is what feeble subordinates like to call their results oriented boss. They act as if they are the victims when are merely being ask to do their jobs.

    A true toxic boss is somebody who likes to manipulate the situation, throws his weight around, play politics and power trip on his staff. What causes a supervisor to be toxic is often insecurity and lack of sophistication. They usually live on borrowed time because they are not very smart individuals who can’t produce results for their company.


    1. Hi Bob,

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. It sounds like you are saying that sometimes leaders may be called toxic when they are actually just holding their people accountable for results. True enough. It’s easier to blame the boss than admit that we ignored the warning signals along the way.

      I also agree with your second comment — that truly toxic people get found out and usually don’t last long. If our values are clearly defined and in alignment with our organization, it’s worth the wait.

      Please stop by again to share your leadership viewpoints.


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