Fun fact: In my lifetime, I’ve been an administrative assistant to more than 12 executives. Some absolutely amazing; others not so much...
Boss: Who put my peanut butter in the fridge?
Paige: I’m sorry, what?
Boss: Whooo… put my peanut butterrrrr… IN THE FRIDGE!!!!?????
*throws steak knife across kitchen, whizzing past Paige’s head*
What defines a horrible boss? I guess that’s somewhat subjective (although I don’t think throwing a knife is subject to interpretation). For this purpose, though, I’m not talking about a boss you don’t see eye-to-eye with or a boss that makes a bad decision. No, I’m talking about a boss who is arrogant, egotistical, selfish, unaware, unprepared, manipulative, and angry.
One time I had a manager who would claim my ideas as their own if the board liked them. They would also throw me under the bus if their idea wasn’t well-received. (There was nothing I could do since I wasn’t in those meetings to defend myself.)
One time I worked with a manager who would talk over women during meetings until they stopped talking. He seemed to reject any idea that came from a woman, but would praise the same idea if a male counterpart suggested it.
One time I had a manager tell me that if I prioritize my family over business, I will never be successful. (This coming from someone whose kids cried because they never made it home for a soccer game.)
One time... just kidding. I'll stop there; you get the gist.
What I've learned is that there are a lot of horrible bosses out there, and a lot of people in managerial roles who don't actually know how to manage people. What I've also learned (aside from what not to do) is that I want to be a better leader for my team.
So how does one go about being a "better leader"? Great question. If anyone has the answer, please let me know. In the interim, I'll focus on filling my social media with a different type of influencer. Reading less gossip and more content from people like Gary V, Adam Grant and Brené Brown (15/10 recommend her podcast Dare to Lead) inspire me to grow into a better version of myself—not just in my professional career, but in my personal life too. One could argue that these, in this scenario, are mutually exclusive. Because if there's one message I've found to be consistent, it's that how we lead and mentor others starts with who we are and how we perceive ourselves.
If I think poorly about myself—if I'm unsure, afraid, or anxious—then how can I coach someone else to be the best version of themselves? How can I spark creativity and empower confidence if I don't believe those things to be true about me? Spoiler alert: the answer is I can't.
If I think poorly about myself, those insecurities will (consciously or subconsciously) be projected onto those around me, especially those whom I feel are doing better than me. For example, if I don't trust that I'm good enough to do something, I won't actually trust anyone else to do it well either. I will second guess and micromanage my teammates creating tension and distrust. However, if I'm self-assured and aware, then I'm confident in the team and the culture I've created and subsequently will trust that they'll do their job well.
If I'm unsure, afraid, or anxious I will make abrupt and selfish decisions to protect my ego. For example, as CEO, if I'm afraid of failure and then hear that we won't meet our financial goals for the quarter, I might start to implement radical and irrational incentives to push our sales team to do more. While this may help us achieve our sales goals (selfish), it creates an unhealthy and unstable culture. However, if I'm confident in the success of our company, then even when things don't go well (perhaps we don't make as much money as planned in a quarter), I know we're still going to be okay. I can take a step back and think through all of our options before making the best decision for the long-term.
So with all of that said, I think it's pretty obvious why I'd prefer to be a "better leader". I'm working on loving myself unconditionally, accepting every part of who I am, healing past wounds (most of which I didn't even know existed!) so that I can be an empathetic, confident, and honest leader.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not even close to perfect (ask my sister lol) but being more aware allows me to work on it every single day and make conscious decisions about how I talk to myself, interact with others and make decisions for MCREY. Which is pretty freakin' great if you ask me.