Here’s an important question. How does a bad boss communicate?

The answer? With orders: “You will do this or that!”

And how do we react to being ordered to do something? I don’t know about you, but I immediately go to my terrible twos and say, “No way! I don’t want to do that.” (Or: “I won’t do that!”)

And that’s not a great way to get cooperation and move things ahead.

So let’s look at the characteristics of a bad boss. Because a good boss is the exact opposite of all of these.

  • A bad boss is uninspiring. He runs long meetings, boring on and on and on.
  • A bad boss is often disorganized and it’s really hard to figure out what needs to be done.
  • A bad boss always has to be right. “I’m number one, I get to say what’s right and what’s not right. And if I say it’s right, it’s right even if it’s not right.”
  • The other thing a bad boss does is to dump jobs on people with inadequate direction and insufficient time to do them well. “I want you to do this job, and I want this done by Thursday.”
  • You work hard, you do something well, and you get it done on time or early and nothing is said; but make a little mistake? Boy, you get slammed, often publicly, which is very embarrassing.
  • And the reporting style for any job is that the bad boss takes all of the credit and none of the blame.

But what bad bosses are forgetting is that when you point a finger at somebody else, there are three more pointing right back at you. So this whole mode of behavior turns people off and makes it really hard to get anything done when things are being managed (or more likely mismanaged) by a bad boss.

What this behavior does in any organization, whether it’s a for profit corporation or a small business or a volunteer situation, is that it causes people to feel anxiety. It causes people to be afraid. They’re afraid to speak up, that they won’t be listened to, or they’ll be criticized for bringing up an idea that the boss doesn’t like, which basically creates a bad atmosphere, a bad place to work.

On the other hand, a good boss is often called a leader.* So let’s take a look at the characteristics of a leader.

  • First of all, a leader is inspiring.
  • A leader shares a message in a way that is positive and intrigues people and, and inspires them that this is something worthwhile to do.
  • A leader shows a clear direction. “This is something that it’s vital to accomplish. And it’s important to come up with the right plan so that our success comes from a very positive place.”
  • A leader welcome suggestions and ideas.
  • A good leader doesn’t think that he or she has every answer, so brainstorming is very often part of a good leader’s toolbox.
  • A good leader shows constant appreciation for everything people do; and if something is not done right, a good leader uses that situation as a teaching opportunity and privately mentors the person who made the mistake.

I invite you to check out the video for more thoughts about this whole topic of bosses and leaders.

You can also find other presentations from the Coffee and Coaching Club series on my YouTube channel here. Please be sure to subscribe.

*Please notice that I don’t point out what we often call bad bosses.