We realize there are days when it can feel as if everyone around you is inept. Companies, after all, are composed of people, and people screw up, reward mediocrity, play politics, and otherwise commit myriad organizational sins.
But the “everyone’s dumb but me” attitude is dangerous. Not only is it a career-killer, but it’s also simply not a realistic perspective on business. Too many companies perform well every day—returning billions in profits by inventing, making, selling, and distributing millions of products and services—for every manager out there to be a total nincompoop.
That’s why we suggest that if you have a gloomy view of the working world, take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself if you might just be a boss-hater.
Very few people would ever identify themselves as boss haters. They usually see themselves as noble victims, speaking truth to power. Forget that line. Boss-haters are a breed. It doesn’t matter where they work—big corporations, family companies, partnerships, nonprofits, newspapers, or government agencies. Boss-haters enter into any authority relationship with barely repressed cynicism and ingrained negativity toward “the system.” And even though their reasons may be varied, from upbringing to personality to political bent, boss-haters are unified in their inability to see the value in any person above them in a hierarchy.
The boss-haters in any organization tend to find each other, and once in numbers, they usually become quite outspoken. Boss-haters also tend to be on the high-IQ side. That’s unfortunate, really. Because instead of using their intelligence to improve the way work is done, boss-haters focus, laser-like, on all of the organization’s flaws and the sheer, incomprehensible idiocy of the higher-ups.
Of course, because of their intelligence, some boss-haters do get ahead—briefly. More often, the organization feels their vibe, and bosses respond in kind, with distancing or worse.
Now, maybe you’re not a boss-hater and your boss is just one of these. But if you find you have no shortage of contempt for those at the top, perhaps you should give yourself a test. Think of a boss you’ve encountered who didn’t have a problem. If you can’t, the problem may be something you can fix just by opening up your mind.
Jack Welch is Founder and Distinguished Professor at theJack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University. Through its executive education and Welch Way management training programs, the Jack Welch Management Institute provides students and organizations with the proven methodologies, immediately actionable practices, and respected credentials needed to win in the most demanding global business environments.
Suzy Welch is a best-selling author, popular television commentator, and noted business journalist. Her New York Times bestselling book, 10-10-10: A Life Transforming Idea, presents a powerful decision-making strategy for success at work and in parenting, love and friendship. Together with her husband Jack Welch, Suzy is also co-author of the #1 international bestseller Winning, and its companion volume, Winning: The Answers. Since 2005, they have written business columns for several publications, including Business Week magazine, Thomson Reuters digital platforms, Fortune magazine, and the New York Times syndicate.