Be careful, it is easier to adopt bad habits than good ones.
I once worked for a boss who was very controlling and demeaning. He would not miss a chance to let everyone know he was in charge by criticizing what you did, especially in front of others. It was all about him. He made my life absolutely miserable. I hated him to the point that the first thing I did every morning was read the obituaries hoping that his name was listed. Fortunately, I was able to move to work for a different manager.
Under that leader, my career began to flourish again. I took on more and more responsibility. I didn’t notice it, but I was becoming more controlling and caustic with each promotion. It didn’t dawn on me until one of my employees told me about something that was going wrong and I went off on him in front of the team. After the meeting, another one of my direct reports said to me that she thought I would have been better if I had fired him instead of talked to him like that in front of everyone. Wow! What a wake-up call that was for me. I’m thankful that she had enough courage to say that to me. I started to apologize and then she went on to say that that’s why people had stopped telling me about problems and stopped taking any initiative on their own. I had become my worst boss.
That was a reflective moment for me. I started thinking what had caused me to become so controlling and critical. I determined that it was my fear of failure, of looking bad. I was acting that way because I had developed a reputation of getting things done and I was afraid of losing that rep. It’s ironic that the more you gain, the more you fear losing it, and the more you start focusing on yourself at the expense of others. I now understand what the rapper Biggie Smalls meant when he said “More money, more problems.” That reflective moment caused me to change my behavior. I went from focusing on the getting tasks done to developing people; from getting the credit to giving the credit to them; and from me basing my success on the promotions I got to the promoted and accolades that my team earned. Note: I was still firm and held people accountable, but I wasn’t disrespectful and undermining. Not surprisingly, once I started focusing on my people, we started getting more things done and I also started getting more promotions. To that point, I’m extremely proud of the fact that there are now eight people who use to work within my organizations that are CIOs of billion dollar companies.
In thinking back to that bad boss I worked for, I’m sure that his behavior was also driven by fear. In retrospect, we both had worked our way up from very humble origins. Nobody expected anything from either one of us and we were out to prove people wrong.
In summary, it is easier to become a bad boss than a good one. You have to make sure you have someone in your group and life who will tell you when you are becoming an asshole. If you don’t, your people will be reading the obituaries, looking for your name, the first thing each morning, and you will be remembered for your bad behavior rather than for their success.