Bad bosses ruin people. They are demanding, impolite, crude; they take too much credit and are adept at making our work lives a living hell. People can get "ruined"—OK, a bit melodramatic, that—because they start thinking that this how bosses operate.
Bad bosses destroy value—in their companies and communities but mostly in their people. The effects of a bad boss linger on a person's attitude over an entire career, like the smell of the dead skunk I almost ran over this weekend.
There is a difference between tough and bad. A tough boss is demanding in standards, a bad one belittles others. Tough insists on deadlines, bad plays favorites. Tough leads where people don't want to go, bad follows and takes credit.
Here is an example of a bad boss: In this city, there was a fast-growing start-up that was involved in the large-scale printing business. It was a public company, sales were increasing more than 100 percent each year, and all was good. But...
The boss had an ongoing affair with one of his officers—never mind that his wife also worked for the company. Plus, he was an out-of-control screamer. He would get all up in someone's face and just let him have it. Bad.
That's not even the worst. At trade shows, he would pay a bounty if his salespeople would steal things from competitors: $100 for the carpet, $20 for a chair, $50 for a box of literature. Way bad.
I am sure some of you have had a bad boss. Tell me about yours. Next week, I will give you some ideas on what you can do if you get a bad boss.
BTW, the above company went bankrupt, and the boss basically got run out of town, I kid you not. Justice for all.
G.L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, and his blog can be found at WhatWouldDadSay.com or at JobDig.com.