Martha Stewart, Stalin, or Dick Cheney: Describe Your Boss


dcheney.jpgAll this talk about toxic supervisors has me thinking about my previous leaders.

There is a continuum of bad bosses — from Martha Stewart to Stalin — and most of my previous supervisors fall somewhere in the middle. They aren’t as evil as Stalin, but there have been a few control freaks and type-A personalities in the mix. I remember working for a woman who told me that she didn’t like my tone when I disagreed with her. She said, “It’s condescending.”

I responded, “It’s meant to be condescending. I think you’re thinking too small.”

I recognize that I must be tremendously difficult to manage, but I expect my supervisors to teach me something while leading our Human Resources function with competence and accountability. Get it right. When you get it wrong, there’s nothing else to do accept apologize, get it right, and don’t make the same mistake twice. It’s not rocket science.

I recently told a friend that Dick Cheney is a better people manager than one of my previous supervisors. That’s a tough position to defend seeing as how Cheney is an absolute jerk; however, he is still a better leader & mentor than a previous boss. Here’s why:

  1. You always know where you stand with Dick Cheney. He won’t stab you in the back during your annual performance review. If you’re not performing, he’ll just stab you.
  2. Dick Cheney understands power. Even though he reports to the President, you can’t tell him that. Dick Cheney is his own man, and people around him are tremendously loyal.
  3. Dick Cheney doesn’t suffer fools gladly. He doesn’t do the press, he doesn’t do print, but he knows how to appease his base. Dick Cheney is the master of stakeholder management.

There were times in my career where it felt like I was working in The Twilight Zone. I would have paid my employer to work for a boss who didn’t accept shit work from his/her team, knew how to provide timely feedback, and managed our internal clients more effectively.

This is tough for me to write, but maybe Human Resources needs a Cheney-style intervention? He couldn’t screw up Human Resources any worse than he’s f–d up Iraq.

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