Negative Lessons in Leadership

By | December 29, 2013

[December 29, 2013]  We have all had a bad boss at one time and we’ve all seen bad decisions from good leaders at one time or another.  A perceptive leader learns from the mistakes of a bad boss and from a good leader who fails.

There are many things we can learn from a bad boss or from other’s bad decisions and the main thing is to learn what not to do.  This is especially true of a bad boss – whether they are incompetent, a toxic leader, mentally inadequate for the job, or they simply make poor and unnecessarily risky decisions.

Adjusting our personal frame of reference from an emotional response to an attitude of learning will do wonders to improve upon the leader’s relevant experience.

In an earlier post called “Learning from Failure,” it was clear that the lessons senior executive leaders take away from failure differs from what most employees or junior leaders will take away.  For example, a junior leader would see who was responsible for a failure while a senior leader would see what system issues were the problems.

This method of learning from failure can also be applied here.  Senior leaders should look for lessons beyond improving team performance and see how the organization itself overall could be improved.

While the main point here is that we should learn from poor leadership and bad decisions, we should not let the negative situation control us as leaders.  It is easy to be dragged into bad situations and be tarnished with the results.

Learning what we can from negative situations is an important thing for leader development.


There are a number of books and published articles on “how to deal with a bad boss.”  For example, see “Lessons from a Bad Boss” by Erika Anderson at



Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

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