#212: Have You Worked for Either of These Kinds of Bad Bosses?

There are two kinds of bad bosses, and I have worked for both kinds. There is the boss who doesn’t know they are bad, and then there is the boss that is bad, he knows it, and he doesn’t care!

Bad Bosses

Looking back over the 36-years of my business career I can only think of a couple of bad bosses (maybe my memory is shot, but that’s all I can remember).

The Unwitting Bad Boss

This boss came along later in my career. He was someone I had known for years and even worked with on several occasions. He was a pleasant enough fellow when I worked with him on projects, but when he became my boss, I saw a whole other side of him.

He took credit for the good work my team did even when he didn’t have anything to do with it. But, when something went wrong, he was the first one to throw my team and me under the bus.

I tried hard to work with him and even talked to him about how his behavior was impacting the morale of the organization. He didn’t seem to realize that his behavior was causing his people to pull away from him.

Even after being confronted with what was going on he never changed. Before long complaints about his behavior reached the ears of upper management, then human resources got involved. Eventually, he was demoted and transferred where he had the chance to start over with another division of the company.

The Bad, Bad Boss

I was a sales manager responsible for three states, and our team had just gone through a particularly tough quarter. Right after the close of the quarter, the mailman brought a large package and inside was what we lovingly referred to as the “Boot Trophy.”

Our boss had taken one of his old hiking books and had it mounted on an oak plaque. This became the Boot Trophy. It was to be held in the office of the worst performing manager for the entire quarter. It would then be sent on to the next manager who had the worst quarter’s performance.

I am sure the boss thought me having to stare at the Boot Trophy all quarter would remind me of the unit’s shameful performance and motivate my team to work harder and do better.

It didn’t.

I threw the stupid thing into the back of a closet. I didn’t look at it or tell my people about it. And then when it was time to forward to another manager, I “lost it.”

The Boot Trophy was just one of the examples of this manager’s abysmal leadership. He would rig sales contests to favor people he liked. He manufactured reasons to transfer or fire employees he didn’t like.

Eventually, he butted heads with his boss. My bad boss was given what I like to call, “alternate employment options” (an office and 30 days to find a new job and resign or get fired).

Dealing with Your Bad Boss

The Bible has a a lot to say about dealing with difficult people. My favorite passage comes from Jesus who gives instructions to the disciples regarding discipline among church members.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17).

If we apply these instructions to our organizations, there are four steps we should take in dealing with bad bosses:

  • Address the issues privately with him/her, one-on-one. If this does not resolve the situation then,
  • Take one or two others with you and discuss the issues in private once again. If this does not resolve the issue then,
  • Take the issue either to higher ups or the human resources department depending on your organization. If the situation is resolved, great. If not then,
  • Break off relationship with the bad boss. This can be tricky in an organization. You may need to ask for a transfer, or you may need to start looking for a new job.

Regardless of how the situation is resolved, we need to practice forgiveness. As Jesus continued teaching the disciples in Matthew 18:21-22 he told them they were to forgive the person who had sinned against them seventy-seven times.

We must forgive also. As hard as it may be, we must forgive those who have sinned against us for our sakes, for the sakes of our employees, and for the sake of the organization.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked with an unwittingly bad boss or the boss who was bad and knew it? How did their leadership affect the organization? How did you handle the bad boss?

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Category: Skills | Conflict Management

 

 

#024: Envy + Jealousy = Anger Issues

Envy is an emotion related to coveting what someone else has while jealousy is the emotion related to fear that something you have will be taken away by someone else. Add envy and jealousy together and the result will often be anger. Vicious, mad dog anger.

Jealousy Saul and David

There is a lot we can learn about dealing with envy and jealousy from the relationship between Saul and David. Samuel the prophet recorded the story writing,

1 Samuel 18:6-11 (ESV)
6  As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments.
7  And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”
8  And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?”
9  And Saul eyed David from that day on.
10  The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand.
11  And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.

Saul was the first king of the united kingdoms of Israel, and for a while, he was a good king. But as time went on he let the power of his position affect his ego. When Saul disobeyed the prophet Samuel, the Lord rejected Saul as leader of Israel (1 Samuel 15). From here on Saul’s life takes a bad turn as he struggles harder and harder to hang onto his power.

David killed Goliath and came to the attention of Saul in 1 Samuel 17. Saul was so impressed with young David that he had David join him in the palace. Whatever Saul asked David to do he did with excellence. David was rewarded for his service with a high rank in the army. With every successful battle, David’s popularity grew, to the point that it threatened Saul. When David returned from yet another battle the people lined the streets singing and dancing in tribute to their conquering hero.

Saul’s reaction to David’s success was a combination of envy and jealousy that resulted in an uncontrollable rage. Saul was envious of David’s growing popularity as a result of his success on the battlefield. He was jealous of David fearing that David was about to replace him as king. The result of this combination of envy and jealousy was anger. Saul’s anger evolved into hatred as he vowed to kill David, hunted him, and attempted to kill him several times.

Application

You may not be a king, but if you are an executive, or otherwise occupy a position of power, there is a very real temptation to fall prey to the same egoism as Saul. Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” James, the half-brother of Jesus wrote, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice” (James 3:16).

The best way to avoid the evil twins of envy and jealousy is to not think too highly of yourself, rather, be humble before the Lord.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you struggled with envy or jealousy at home or at work? If so, how did you react?

Category: Skills | Conflict Management

#015: To Forgive, Going Above and Beyond?

Have you needed to forgive someone and not wanted to? Did this person hurt you so badly that you felt forgiveness was going “above and beyond the call of duty?” I know I have!

Forgiveness

I hate to admit it but there have been a few occasions in my life when someone hurt me badly enough that I wished bad things would happen to them–sort of a cosmic pay-back for hurting me.

I’m like, “God you know they did me wrong! How about you send a little bolt of lightning down on them right now?” Actually, I’m glad God doesn’t carry out His judgement that way, or I would have been struck more than a couple times myself–since I’m sure I’ve done stupid things that hurt others as well. The important thing is how we handle these situations when we are hurt.

Jesus was all too familiar with the world in which he was despised and rejected by the very people he was trying so hard to save. Jesus knew the disciples would face some of the same difficulties. Luke records Jesus’ instructions to the disciples regarding the danger of sin, the need for repentance, and the importance of forgiveness.

Luke 17:1-10 (NASB)
1 He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!
2 “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.
3 “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
4 “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.
7 “Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’?
8 “But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’?
9 “He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he?
10 “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'”

There are four important lessons here:

  • It is inevitable that we will sin—we live in a fallen world.
  • We should be on guard and be prepared to help our brothers and sisters who stumble. Our approach should be to handle the situation privately, if the person repents, then forgive.
  • People will continue to sin and we are commanded to continue to forgive when they repent.
  • Forgiving the sinner who repents is not a matter of faith—but a command—it is a requirement.

 Application:

Forgiving the sinner who repents is what Jesus has called (commanded) us to do. It is our base requirement, our duty as servants of God. It is not a matter of faith, nor is it above and beyond the call of duty of one of Jesus’ disciples.

Join the Conversation!

As always questions and comments are welcome. Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive? What is holding you back?

Category: Skills | Conflict Management

#012: What to do When Facing Opposition

These days I feel like Christians are facing more and more opposition on a daily basis. There is opposition to our beliefs, our values, and even our way of life. Our workplaces are certainly no exception.

Assyrian Empire, Opposition

It seems many “alternative” religions are given a free pass while Christians who express their faith are viewed with disdain.

The Scripture records many instances of God’s children facing opposition, and no one understood opposition better than Hezekiah. The Assyrians had expanded their empire by conquering the northern kingdom of Israel, and now were turning their eye toward the southern kingdom of Judah. Hezekiah had already tried to buy off the Assyrian invaders, but eventually the Assyrians planned yet another campaign to conquer Judah. That’s where we pick up the story in 2 Kings 19:

2 Kings 19:14-19 (ESV)
14 Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD and spread it before the LORD. 15 And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said: “O LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 17 Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands 18 and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 19 So now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone.”

Background. Hezekiah became king of Judah when he was 25 years old. 2 Kings 18 says “he did right in the eyes of the Lord.” He removed the high places and broke down the Asherah poles. He trusted in the Lord. When Hezekiah was 29 years old Shalmaneser king of Assyria invaded Samaria (Northern kingdom) and conquered it in three years. When Hezekiah was 39 years old Sennacherib came up against the fortified cities of Judah and took them. Hezekiah paid Sennacherib to withdraw stripping the silver and gold from the house of the Lord and the king’s treasuries. Sennacherib sent emissaries to threaten Hezekiah, saying the Lord will not protect Judah any more than He protected any of the other nations Assyria had conquered.

Response. Hezekiah receives the letter from the messengers and after reading it spreads it before the Lord and prays for God to save them. Through Isaiah, Hezekiah receives the prophecy that the Lord has heard his prayer and will save Judah. That night the angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 Assyrians. The next morning Sennacherib departed, returning home to Nineveh.

Application

As a believer, it is not a matter of if you will face opposition. The Scripture clearly says we will! The question is, “How will you respond?” Hezekiah went to the Lord in prayer, laying out the situation and asking for God’s help. Prayer should be our first response to any and all opposition in our lives!

Join the Conversation!

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you experienced opposition to your faith in the workplace? How have you handled it?

Category: Skills | Conflict Management