The Opinionated Manager

learning to trust my own opinions and expertise

Big Boss Bad Behaviour


I’ve been searching for an example in my work life where I have lost my temper, thrown a tantrum, yelled at someone… any example where I have behaved apallingly like a child. And I can’t think of a single one.

Which is not to say I always behave impeccably, but I don’t have that Big Boss (talking generic Big Boss here, people) ability to yell at people, belittle their contribution, or generally make my displeasure felt through enraged ranting and raving. What amazes me about this kind of behavior is that it doesn’t seem to impact negatively on the Big Boss’s leadership persona, or the loyalty of staff, or the productivity of a workplace. Perhaps this isn’t true, but it seems to be. Anti-social behavior is written off as authenticity, frankness etc.

Is there perhaps a certain way of behaving badly that somehow isn’t as unprofessional as it may seem to an outsider, or that, when put together with a dedication to product or purpose becomes understandable and pardonable?

It is impossible to imagine that I could ever throw a tantrum at any staff, and that if I did, the question becomes how on earth would I keep together my team, who operate effectively in a space of trust, respect and support? I have worked with team members whose bad behavior, and easy dismissal of other’s efforts, has had a terrible effect on morale and productivity. If I, as a leader, were to act like that, I cannot see how my team would have the confidence to put forward new ideas, to act with independence and to develop as individual professionals and a cohesive team.

I do, however, harbor a certain envy for the directness that comes alongside this behavior. I would never wish to put another down, to carelessly damage another, and I think to a point this can hold me back from giving direct criticism. It is a fear of hurting people that I value, that maybe my comments might be overblown in a team member’s mind so that they believe I see no worth in them at all.

As I write this it becomes clear that I am underestimating the strength and resilience of my team in coping with purposeful criticism, at the same time as indulgently overstating the impact I might have on any one person’s feelings of self-worth.

And really, I think that this is where my inclusive and supportive leadership style actually has built for me the protection of a strong faith and trust from my team. An understanding that I do not ever act to put people down, or cause a fuss with no reason.

Then this will be my challenge. To express myself with more confidence, to voice displeasure and step in to provide corrections with authority, and overall to trust in my team’s ability to understand that my message is never a personal attack.

Give trust, and act in a way deserving of trust.

The Lounge this week is talking about adult tantrums and hissy-fits. This is my contribution, Grand-Reflections style. Other posts, over at Robomum, are bound to be less contemplative, more funny.


14 comments on “Big Boss Bad Behaviour

  1. robomum
    May 15, 2013

    I’m the type of person who can’t raise my voice at other people, so I’m surprised that I summoned the courage, as explained in my blog post. Directness, without offending people is a good quality to have. Thanks for linking with The Lounge.

    • katrinalovesjustin
      May 18, 2013

      It feels fantastic to stand up, when it’s not something that you would normally do. I thought your post was brilliant, and I could really feel that sense of indignance and exhilaration that you must have been going through. That’s not a tantrum, to me that is an action of self-empowerment, and the fact that it was on behalf of another, speaks volume about the person you are.

  2. Tegan
    May 16, 2013

    Your team probably respects you more because you don’t yell and scream at them. I know from my experience the boss who just let us get on with it was much better received than the one who stood over us, nitpicking every thing we did.

    • katrinalovesjustin
      May 18, 2013

      I like to describe myself as a “lazy” manager. I don’t want to do all the thinking for my team! I want a team that comes to me to double check on the important details, and to run new ideas past me, but Shit! I don’t want to spend my time directing every last little task!

  3. Slapdash Mama
    May 16, 2013

    I work somewhere that tanties are not an infrequent event. Not mine I hasten to add I am actually very easy going IRL. Nothing worse than peeps at work going hammer and tongs. Freaking nightmarish.

    • katrinalovesjustin
      May 18, 2013

      Ughh! I’ve worked with some incredible (and stupid) tantrums – from my staff, about really random things. It makes the whole team feel on edge and unwilling to engage genuinely with that particular team member. Always feel like, if I say x then they’ll turn their wrath on me! So unproductive (and in this case, just plain childish)

  4. Ness
    May 16, 2013

    I agree with Tegan. Your team would respect you more for not yelling and screaming.
    My husband used to work in an environment where the boss was a bully and regularly had peiopl in tears. It was horrific. He had leave.

    • Ness
      May 16, 2013

      I meant PEOPLE of course. Sorry for the typo.

    • katrinalovesjustin
      May 18, 2013

      I feel like I have developed a respectful place with my team. I certainly pull up behaviours and mistakes, but I’m a big believer in performance Counselling along the lines of good – room to improve – good. When people feel appreciated I believe they are more willing to do the work to improve in problem areas.

  5. Rachel
    May 16, 2013

    When I interviewed for my curresnt role just over 6 months agao the Driector I would be reporting to seemed okay – a little over-impressed with his own importance but nothing I couldn’t handle. or so I thought. Within the first week it became clear that he was bullying the whole team. He would publicly humiliate a different person in the DAILY team meetings he insisted we have. It was like a nightmare. I was shocked – he SHOUTED at me and no one in a work environment hasd ever done that to me!

    Eventually after a few months he eased off – but the damage was done ond not one of us respected him.

    He finally threw a GIANT tantrum about 2 months ago and was sacked. Everything has been loads better since then thank god!

    Love your work Katrina 😉 Rach – The Lounge Lizard x

    • katrinalovesjustin
      May 18, 2013

      The most insidious thing, like any bullying behaviour, is that you start to doubt yourself so much. Like, I know he shouldn’t have yelled at me, but how stupid I am to have done x in the first place…

  6. Vanessa
    May 18, 2013

    At my day job someone recently got fired (or had the ‘opportunity’ to leave, who knows the HR/legaleese of how it happened for sure) because they were a crappy, unsupportive manager. It made me feel better to know there were standards…

    • katrinalovesjustin
      May 18, 2013

      That’s good to hear! I just can’t see how bad management, like REALLY bad management, can be left to fester and foul everything it comes into contact with.

  7. Pingback: Top 5 Professional Influences | The (Mildly) Opinionated Manager

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This entry was posted on May 15, 2013 by in Leadership & Management and tagged , , , , .

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