Ever had a bad boss?

Dr. Gary-McGrath

Written By: Dr. Gary McGrath, CEO Statarius

Ever had a bad boss? 1024 576 Dr. Gary McGrath

Ever had a bad boss?

Or has your good boss gone bad during Covid?

As I’ve always said, “Challenging times do not make a leader, they define a leader.”  We can agree that 2020 is definitely challenging times, to say the least.  

Do you believe that you have been a good leader during the pandemic?  Have you taken into consideration the current landscape and the toll it is taking on your team from both a physical and emotional standpoint? 

Perhaps as a team member, you have seen your boss go from being a good boss to a bad one, or even a bad boss to a horrible one (extreme stress can do that). Unfortunately, having a bad boss is not uncommon, even during the best of times. 

The article below was published in Professional Performance Magazine in May 2020.  As this pandemic continues, the need to develop leaders increases every day.  Read on and learn how a holistic, inside-out approach to leadership development can accomplish this.  Enjoy!

Have YOU ever had a bad boss?  Most people have and THAT is unfortunate, especially since it is preventable! 

Bad bosses are destructive, often making their staff feel frustrated and insignificant.  We frequently hear, “You are NOT going to believe what my boss did THIS time! (stated with disgust).”  Consequently, it is no surprise that research indicates over 80% of employees who leave organizations, do so because of the boss.

Bad bosses signify a deeper problem.  They indicate a lack of leadership development within organizations.  For example, we would never hand a scalpel to someone on the street and ask her to remove an appendix that is inflamed.  That’s ridiculous, the patient may not survive.  And yet, it is common for untrained, undeveloped bosses to be handed the ‘scalpel of responsibility’ to lead and manage teams, departments or divisions.  In this case, however, it’s the employees that don’t survive…remember, over 80% leave because of the boss.  

Truth is, bad bosses aren’t bad because they want to be bad (well, mostly).  Bad bosses are bad because they haven’t been developed to be good bosses and potentially great leaders.   Most bosses learn solely from experience, and not only is experience alone very limiting, it is a horrible teacher.  In addition, because of undeveloped leadership skills, bad bosses set poor examples, passing on their undesirable behaviors to those who are unfortunately modeling them, thus creating more bad bosses! Unless this cycle is broken through proper leadership development, the destruction continues.

Breaking this cycle may sound like quite an undertaking, however, it does not have to be. Let me explain.

During my 40-year career, I served as a Captain and commanding officer in the US Army, operations manager in fortune 500 manufacturing companies and VP of Sales in multiple technology organizations. I saw MANY bad bosses lacking leadership skills, and this did not sit well with me. Consistently, these bosses were either focused solely on results and outcomes, creating cultures of high accountability without concern for people; OR they were focused on being the ‘nice guy’, the cheerleader who avoided the potential conflict of holding direct reports accountable.  Research shows both myopic styles to be equally as ineffective. Both accountability and compassion ARE necessary.  The challenge is apportioning them to lead effectively.

For years, I consulted with and studied leadership under some of the nation’s most influential leaders. It was then that the solution of how to get rid of bad bosses began to take shape…bad bosses require leadership development employing a holistic, inside-out approach. That approach was developed into a program that I have used with my clients for many years yielding a 95% retention rate. That is to say, 95% of program participants are still with the employers who adopted this leadership development process.  In addition, approximately half of the participants have been promoted.

So, you may ask, how exactly does this work?

First, the boss must be humble and vulnerable enough to acknowledge his/her limitations and the need to be better.  In other words, the boss needs to have a human side.

Second, is the adoption and application of an inside-out practice of leadership development. This is one that takes a holistic approach to development. This is more important today under the stressful conditions of the pandemic.  Regardless of how this all plays out, having a stronger leadership team will help you survive then thrive as we get through these challenging times. 

To be most effective, it must include the following process delivered over time within one’s native environment: 

Assess & Select:

Identify potential candidates across the entire organization and assess their LEADERSHIP potential by testing for emotional intelligence, determining their level of humility and identifying those who have demonstrated a desire to serve.



Typically, there are many areas of functional, management, and leadership competencies that individuals must master to satisfy their organization’s needs. These include relationship building, effective decision making, organizing, and execution. All training, regardless of subject matter should be tied to the organization’s vision, mission, and values.

Coach & Mentor:

Learning to coach others is the number one skill of a leader.  With the goal of developing others, this is taught as a practice of asking questions, rather than answering questions. Having a coach and a mentor is integral to applying what is learned and reaching one’s full potential. 

Team Support:  

Real, long-term behavioral changes are most prevalent when people have the support of others within the organization who are going through the same experience.  Cohorts are necessary to provide support AND maximize accountability during this process. 

Contextual Application:

Leadership development must consider the cultural context of the organization.  Newly acquired leadership skills must be applied within each individual’s role to align with the culture, mission and values of the organization. 

As you can see, leadership development is NOT solely comprised of training leaders, it is DEVELOPING leaders.   All components of the process are vital, interactive, and interwoven much like a jigsaw puzzle whereby all the pieces are dependent on the others to create the final picture…in this case, effective leadership development! If they are not all present, the process is incomplete and is destined to fail!  

Third, rinse and repeat.  Develop leadership capabilities across, up, and down the organization resulting in a sustainable, leadership-based culture. 

And finally, as we say at Statarius, “Trust the process!”  

This is a brief description of the essential elements of an effective leadership development program. It is taken from a comprehensive program, titled LeaderStep, which has the foundation of the Seven Steps of Intentional Leadership outlined in my latest book, A CEO’s Journey. Interested persons may visit my website at Statarius.com to download a free copy. Listen to Dr. Gary on his weekly podcast LEADING from the FRONT on C-SuiteNetwork.com, iPodcast/iTunes, Spotify or other popular outlets.

Are you realizing leadership is needed at all levels to face the challenges of today and our uncertain future? What about when the economy opens again, will you be ready? Not if you fail to invest in your leaders today. This is an opportunity to bypass the competition.

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About Dr. Gary.

"Dr. Gary" McGrath, considered a unicorn in leadership development, is impassioned by making good bosses into great leaders. His life mission IS to provide a transformative experience that cultivates capabilities, maximizes potential and inspires unprecedented excellence.

The Statarius team, better known as Statarians, collectively brings a diversity of experience and a depth of expertise to the Leaderstep7 program that makes it incomparable in the leadership development arena. As a result of Statarian contributions, participants receive unwavering support and exceptional education through executive coaching and professional training, fully preparing them to excel in their current and future leadership positions.