Seven lessons I learned from my worst boss ever


I’ve actually been truly blessed with a long list of amazing bosses and mentors over the course of my career.  I’ve learned so much about being a marketer, a business leader and a manager from bosses at Microsoft, start-ups and other stops in between.

But along that journey I had a short but very memorable experience which someone who was by far the worst boss I ever experienced.  Thankfully, though, my time with her has given me some great lessons on what to do and what NOT to do as I continue learning how to be a better leader for my team.

Playing politics never pays
It’s shallow, transparent and short-sighted.  It may help you win the day, but it will lose you a ton of respect long-term with peers, superiors and subordinates.

Communicate clearly (not in code)
There’s no excuse for allowing ambiguity to cloud judgement, direction or execution.  If your style of management is to expect your team to predict or guess what you mean and want, that’s terrible leadership.  Not all news is good news, but people want clarity, not innuendoes.

Support your team (teach or correct them later)
Put your people in a position where they will learn, stretch their skills & comfort zones & limits, but give them a safety net.  This includes giving them an opportunity to fail (and sometimes fail publicly) while reserving constructive feedback and redirection to more private, discrete opportunities.

Invest time with your team 
Absentee management never works.  You can’t hide behind emails.  And it’s never a good idea to look annoyed when one of your team members wants to see you or ask you a question.  Successful management requires time, it requires an investment in spending time with your team to make them better, allow them to become more autonomous and productive.  That just takes time, but it creates results, loyalty and longevity (for you and for them).

Be clear about expectations
There’s a difference between communicating clearly, and clarifying how your team will be evaluated & measured.  It’s OK if the metrics change, or the priorities change, but be clear when that happens, be clear that there will be time required to transition, and be clear that you are there to support them into those new objectives.  I don’t think I can use the word “support” enough in this blog post.  It has many meanings, and they’re all critical to driving clarity, morale and results with your team.

Superficial optics will backfire
This particular boss told us she wanted us to be at our desks as much as possible, so that people walking by would see how hard we are working.  She literally said that to us.  You can imagine what that did to her credibility.

Practice what you preach
There is one standard, not many. [tweet_box inject=”via @heinzmarketing” design=”default”]The standard you set for your team, you must match yourself.[/tweet_box] None of us are perfect, and pure consistency is a myth. But it’s usually clear who’s trying, and who’s not.

If you’ve had a bad boss, I’d love to hear what you learned from them.