Can a tough boss really teach you important lessons? You bet! And it's in your best interest to learn from a demanding supervisor--because someday, it will be you who keeps the standards high.

While it might seem easier not to be challenged, a tough boss--like a tough teacher--can force you to perform better. That's where both personal and professional growth happen. In the end, you should be grateful.

  1. Mediocre is unacceptable. Every interaction has potential; you never know where your next sale or contract will come from. No matter how big or small a company's budget, money is precious...and it will be spent with someone who can deliver high-quality results. Competition demands high performance on all levels. The good news? You'll learn to stretch and exceed expectations.
  2. Find the fire within...or leave. You should love what you do. Excited to be part of the company's mission. Believe that you are helping to make a difference. If not? The job's not for you, and it will show. Tough bosses are driven by their passion, and expect their top employees to share the vision.
  3. Take criticism and put it to use. Most demanding leaders are not known for their infinite patience. At some point, employees will catch the wrath of the boss. If it's "your turn," listen with an open mind and figure out what you could have done better. Use the event as a way to mature; you'll be less likely to either lash back or pout. And if you can learn to please your boss, you will gain credibility and a great reputation when it's time to be promoted.
  4. Own your behavior. Want to blame someone when things go bad? It might save you once or twice, but that's not the way to impress anyone. When you can admit a mistake, correct it, and determine how to prevent another episode, you can impress a tough boss. Everyone makes mistakes; your reputation as an honest and trustworthy person will take you far.
  5. Respect, within and without. Learning to work--and thrive--in a demanding environment leads to greater self-esteem. Your confidence allows you to approach challenges with a positive attitude. This attitude stays with you in company advancements, or in future job interviews. Tough bosses are usually smart, and have made a name for themselves in the profession. To be able to say that you've successfully worked with that person provides a well-deserved measure of respect and prestige.

If you're working for a tough boss, make the most of it. They can make you smarter, better, and more productive. Let yourself learn, and thank them for the lessons. Not everyone is so lucky!

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