Five Ways Bad Bosses Make You Look Bad

By Dan Rockwell

bad bosses
Negative responses to a bad boss hurt you more than it hurts them.

The person you consistently complain about brands you. If you let them, bad bosses control your:

  1. Speech.
  2. Attitude.
  3. Behavior.
  4. Contribution.
  5. Future.

Do you really want to give your power to someone you don’t like?


Reacting-against makes you look vindictive. You keep talking about:

  1. What you don’t like.
  2. What you don’t want.
  3. What they do wrong.
  4. What you won’t do.

Best self:

I recently had a coaching session with a successful manager who has a lousy boss. Toward the end of our conversation I gave them this feedback.

Your best self comes out when you talk about work, projects, and vision. But, when you talk about your bad boss, your worst self comes out.

Which self do you want others to see?


Solving a bad boss situation may result in you leaving your company. But, in the process, don’t let a bad boss make you look bad.

10 strategies for dealing with a bad boss:

  1. Your boss’s boss probably won’t solve this issue for you.
  2. Spend more time seeking solutions than pointing out troubles.
  3. Figure out what your bad boss wants and bury them with it. Do they want information? Give it.
  4. Focus on things you love about work.
  5. For every complaint give three expressions of gratitude.
  6. Take a lateral move within your organization.
  7. Vent to someone you can trust.
  8. Keep asking yourself, “What positive thing do I want?” (Beyond a piano falling on your bad boss.)
  9. Forgive.
  10. Focus on things you can control.

Bonus: Let a bad boss bring out your best.


Sympathy destroys you. Sympathy validates self-destructive attitudes and justifies negative behaviors. You don’t need sympathy. You need a kick in the pants. Stop letting someone you don’t like limit your career.


Dan RockwellWe are delighted to welcome Dan Rockwell to the WellSpirit Blog as the guest author of this post.  Dan is the author of Leadership Freak blog, where this post was originally published. It is republished here by permission.

Leadership Freak is read in virtually every country on the globe and has been recognized as the most socially-shared leadership blog of 2012 and 2013. Over 250,000 people subscribe to Leadership Freak’s social media channels.

Dan has owned two businesses and served fifteen years as a Workforce Development Consultant for a Penn State University Special Affiliate. In that capacity, Dan designed courses, hired and mentored instructors, and delivered hundreds of presentations for local, regional, and global organizations. Dan is co-author of, “The Character Based Leader.” Dan’s articles are published by The American Marketing Association, The American Management Association, The Society for Human Resource Management, The Deloitte Leadership Academy, Huffington Post, and many others.

Dan will be joining Drs. Jeff & Renée Hale on Leaders Alive! April 17th at 5:00 PM CDT on WJOB 1230 AM to discuss this post.

Disclosure of Material Connection:

WellSpirit Consulting Group Inc. has not received any compensation for this guest post. We have no material connection to the brands, products, or services mentioned therein. We only recommend authors and books that we have personally read and that we believe will be good for our readers and clients. WellSpirit is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


  • MrunalAsher

    The bad boss exploits the situation and picks up every given opportunity to degrade subordinates in absence of any control on him and his behavior. The blind faith with full powers is the root cause of the boss crossing his limits. The silence kept by the boss’s boss on genuine grievances/complaints by few people spoils the work environment and compels people to look outside.

    • Thanks for your comment Mrunal. You made an interesting observation, “The blind faith with full powers is the root cause of the boss crossing his limits.” I agree every one needs accountability, all bosses should be held accountable for their professional actions and relationships. Why are many organizations often hesitant to hold bad bosses accountable? Is there a general root cause to this problem? Or, are their many causes which are dependent on the context of specific situations?

    • wy zing

      I am in that situation which u so accurately described. Its frustrating. And yes, I am looking fior a lateral move..

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