How to Survive a Terrible Boss (with video)

Do you have a terrible boss? Do you feel like it’s taking every ounce of your energy just to survive?

I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but approach this temporary situation in your life well, and you’re in the best leadership training program money can’t buy.

How to Survive a Terrible Boss

Observe your jerky boss’ actions and the impact.
Keep your comments to yourself.
Repeat (the hardest part.)
Seek out role models of better leadership.
Try some.
Keep your boss informed of your progress.
Take a deep breath and thank her for her support.
Watch the A players flock to be on your team.
Ask them for their ideas.
Develop a strong network of peer relationships.
Repeat… go deeper this time.
Be as helpful as possible.
Address performance issues of the stragglers–set a higher standard (don’t skip this part or you’re just a nice guy, not a leader). 
Notice improved behaviors.
Ask for what you need.
Recognize upward trends.
Thank your boss for his support.

See also 5 Stages of Manager Soul Loss infographic 

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Posted in Winning Well and tagged , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.


  1. Great article!! As an executive recruiter, I’ve interacted with a WIDE variety of leaders. Some great. Some… I’m sure you can guess. Working closely with management when we are gathering info for a search, we can get a feel pretty quickly about his/her temperament. This information is important when vetting candidates.

    Many employees want to “fix” the boss or show them how/why/where they are wrong. Unfortunately, there are a lot of leaders out there who are uninterested in hearing their employees’ opinions. We are careful to find candidates who both match the job description AND will fit in the company culture. Communication is key for employees, but there is a point when they have to cut their losses and find other avenues such as better role models, as you suggest.

    Sometimes you can’t fix it, even if it’s broke!
    Ken Schmitt

    • Ken, Thanks so much for adding your valuable insights here as well as sharing the link to your related blog. Love it! I hope you will continue to share your ideas.

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