While a toxic workplace or micromanaging boss aren't exactly inspiring while you're on the job, they can offer valuable lessons for how to act as a leader in your future organization. In fact, there's nothing like a bad boss to show you what not to do.
Ten entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) shed light on the leadership traits they've gathered over the years after dealing with the challenge of a negative work environment or manager.
1. You have to be present.
I worked for a company while in college and the owner was never around. If that wasn't bad enough, he was constantly talking about how he was always out on his boat or traveling. That isn't the way to motivate your employees. He was so out of the loop and it made the people making his business successful really resent him. Very few will respect you if you aren't present. --Jonathan Long, Market Domination Media
2. Don't undermine your staff.
I had the great displeasure of working for a boss who treated me like garbage. He'd take any opportunity to undermine my work, belittle it, or pass off something I started to my counterpart. I realized he was projecting his own insecurities onto me and lording his power in a harsh manner, and was able to stop and recognize that I would do my best to lead in a way that maximizes people's strengths. --Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids
3. Never, ever micromanage.
The secret to great delegation is to empower your people to make decisions when you're not around. That way, they won't rely on you to keep the gears turning, so to speak. I see it time and time again in client consultations. If a boss doesn't let things get through the gate without personally reviewing them, that holds up the entire organization -- and this stops profits from coming in the door, too. --Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
4. Always overcommunicate.
You have to communicate three times in three different ways before people really hear what you need and act on it. Your dominant way of communication may work for some employees, but not others. If your messages are not breaking through, ask yourself: Who is the best messenger? What is the best method to convey this message? When is the right timing? Experiment and see if you get better results. --Suzanne Smith, Social Impact Architects
5. Instill a sense of ownership.
Employees must feel an authentic sense of ownership and control. Without the belief (and proof) that their choices matter in some way to the direction and potential of the business, they will absolutely lose interest and thus underperform. Leaders are at their best when they inspire ownership in their employees. --Kim Walls, Best Ever Baby
6. Make timely decisions, and empower your team to do the same.
I once worked for two gentlemen who found it very difficult to make decisions while leaving enough time to act. I watched them drop the ball numerous times because they were too hesitant to take action or because they diverged on an issue. Now I know to make decisions quickly and empower my team to make decisions too. We've built a culture of failing fast, so if we're wrong we know right away and pivot accordingly. --Michael King, IPullRank
7. Don't make empty promises.
Empty promises leave employees disappointed time and time again. The problem isn't just unfulfilled promises, but rather the justification that the promise couldn't be kept as a result of someone else's actions even though the employee has done their part. In leadership, it is key to stand by your word and ensure that any promise of reward based on performance is always kept. --Pejman Ghadimi, Secret Entourage
8. Don't neglect team and culture.
I once experienced a leader who made it clear to his employees that they were easily replaceable, and as a result, they did not stay there a moment longer than they needed to. They worked there because they had to, not because they wanted to. By cultivating a team and a culture of collaboration, transparency, gratitude and appreciation, we have a team of people who are excited to come into work every day. --Michael Mogill, Crisp Video Group