5 Steps to Becoming a Bosshole
You’re a bosshole if the bar is high and you kick people when they fall short.
High expectation apart from kindness is cruel.
Bossholes kick people when they’re down.
5 steps to becoming a bosshole:
- Belief. You believe in someone’s potential. When you commit to developing people, you see things in them that they don’t see in themselves.
- Excellence. You work with someone in the pursuit of excellence. They’re motivated. They make progress.
- Skills. They acquire new skills and begin to deliver great results.
- Enthusiasm. Everyone’s excited about progress and potential.
- Performance drops. The person you believed in runs aground.
- “Your” high-potential does well and quits after all you’ve done for them.
Disappointment is a tipping point between kindness and bossholery.
You either push through disappointment and become kind or you pull back and become a bosshole.
Untended disappointment kicks kindness to the curb.
Kindness requires grit. Bossholery feeds on disappointment.
It’s easy to pull back when disappointment hits. You assume a self-protective posture and think, “It’s not worth it.”
A closed heart never builds the team you aspire to create.
#1. Kindness is acting with the best interest of others while serving the best interest of your organization.
If you have to fire someone, do it in such a way that they will thank you in a year.
#2. Kindness is aligning personal aspirations with organizational interests.
#3. Kindness is bringing up difficult issues before they escalate to a crisis.
It’s unkind to tolerate patterns of poor performance. Kindness intervenes. Patterns of failure call for active intervention that serve the best interest of individuals and teams.
Disappointment chokes kindness but long-term success with people requires kindness.
Kindness is the flip side of high expectations.
If you can get there being a bosshole, you need a new destination.
What turns good leaders into bossholes?
What is the cure for bossholery?
Great post as always, Dan. I believe one should always have high expectations but then be able to provide the tools to reach them. (Too often, the second half of that equation is non-existent!) Can you go into more detail as to how kindness “the flipside of high expectations”?
Thanks Daniel. You are right. Leaders are great with high expectations. Then they say something like, “Just get it done.” There’s not thought of support.
The “flipside” sentence agrees with your sentiment. Kindness and high expectations go together like heads and tails on a coin. I guess that was a little confusing.
Love “kindness requires grit” – thank you, Dan! I’m getting my work vitamins today.
Also, wondering if the mid-section title should read “5 steps to prevent bossholery”…or the like. I may be missing something in the interpretation but the negative title and positive steps seem contradictory.
Thanks Amy. The pattern of these posts typically begins with a negative and moves to a suggested solution.
Your observation on the title makes sense. A positive title fits well. I find negative titles work well.
Got it! I’m converted.
My boss said this week … “You have to focus on X this week. Anything else, has to go through me”. Well another ‘priority’ came up according to his boss that would take focus off of X. X was not a priority in my mind. My boss told me: “He who had the most GOLD makes all the decisions.” This goes against my Rotary 4 way test:
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it bring GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
I had my Rotary pin on my shirt label … so I shook it in the meeting and said “that doesn’t fit with my philosophy. That doesn’t improve society”. How does this help those with no money and no authority? I’m sure every autocrat would aspire to the ‘most gold’ philosophy. As a Rotarian, I try to be a servant leader in the community. Hmmmm … my boss seems like a bosshole at times.
EXCELLENT. Wouldn’t it be nice if more people in organizations stepped up for doing what is right. Keep rolling, Michael!
Thanks Dan! This rings true to me, especially “Disappointment is a tipping point between kindness and bossholery.” Seems like everyday ways to cultivate kindness are key, such as you discussed in your post on 10/29/17 “A Failure at Kindness” (I did a quick search on “kindness” on this page and that post came up first — search boxes are so useful!)
When John the CEO said this in a meeting of ALL of his managers, as we were talking about employee involvement and performance improvement, it confirmed the Bosshole designation:
“That’s like asking the vegetables how to design a refrigerator.”
This was 25 years ago. And the moment remains a vivid memory as we broke for lunch and he went out to play golf for the rest of the afternoon. Unreal.
Bosshole. Excellent frame. (BOSS spelled backwards is self-explanatory.)
And, I think John was simply born this way. He had little regard for other people and was essentially a sociopath in his approach to things, much like someone else whose name rhymes with rump.
I really liked the divergent path you took with the tipping point of disappointment. It’s so true. When all is going well, a bosshole can look and sound like a great leader. It’s when the stuff hits the fan that they show their true colors. It seems that it can tie into the earlier posts about arrogance. By the way, this is equally true in parenting which I find for myself harder to control. I’m going to have a conversation with my husband tonight about calling each other out when we demonstrate parentholery.
A team of mules can make a good leader a bosshole.