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HIRING

5 Bosses That Should Be Fired Now

Incompetent employees can hurt organizations, but incompetent leaders can do far worse - they can, and often do, destroy them.

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I have little patience for employees who aren't cutting it. If you give them all the tools and training they need to do their jobs and, for whatever reason, they can't or won't perform at least adequately, you're better off cutting them loose. Sooner rather than later.

If you think that's cold, it's about to get even chillier around here, because I have even less patience for lousy bosses. The reason is simple. While an incompetent employee can hinder organizational effectiveness, an incompetent manager can destroy it.

And the higher you go up the corporate ladder, the worse it gets. A bad CEO can take down a whole company. It may take a while, but sooner or later, bad leadership infects the entire organization like a viral epidemic. I've seen it happen dozens of times, sometimes too close for comfort.

Over the years I've worked with hundreds, maybe thousands, of managers at every level. Many were brilliant, but on the flip side, many should have been fired. They fall into five types that, in my opinion, are simply not redeemable.

The psycho-bully. Some managers run their groups or companies like games for their own sick amusement. Okay, that's not entirely fair. The truth is that they're usually victims of their own dysfunctions, meaning they're not usually aware of being egotistical, controlling, narcissistic bullies who treat everyone like pawns and act out their childhood traumas on those unfortunate enough to end up in their sphere of influence.

The Teflon-coated boss. Some leaders have a way of ensuring that nothing ever sticks to them. It's like shooting darts at Jell-O--there's no way to pin them down. They usually surround themselves with yes-men who, like them, always have an excuse or someone else to blame for their poor performance.

The smartest guy in the room. Some people have all the answers. At least they think they do. They pride themselves on being special, on being untouchable, on possessing a unique ability to walk on water without getting wet. They never think of the downside to any risk; it will pay off because they will it to be so. If not, that's okay--it's always someone else's job or money.

The master of chaos. The word organize means to bring order to chaos, more or less. Like organisms, organizations are supposed to do the same thing. Sadly, some bosses have the opposite affect. They actually diminish organizational effectiveness by creating fear, uncertainty, divisiveness, and chaos wherever they go. In my experience, there are far too many entrepreneurs with no management experience in this category.

Meet Peter--Peter Principle. What can I say? Some people are just incompetent. Why don't they get weeded out before they get to the top? Good question. They primarily thrive in bureaucracies that fail to hold leaders accountable and reward the wrong kind of behavior. Also, incompetent leaders tend to hire those even less competent than they are. So there are plenty of breeding grounds for the next generation of Peter Principle bosses.

Those are the five types of bosses I would fire immediately. Did I miss any?

IMAGE: Justine Beckett / Getty
Last updated: Sep 11, 2013

STEVE TOBAK is a management consultant, an executive coach, and a former senior executive of the technology industry. He's managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a Silicon Valley-based strategy consulting firm. Contact Tobak; follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
@SteveTobak




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