One of the best life lessons I have ever learned came from a really bad boss. We learn a great deal from remarkable leaders, but all of our experiences, both good and bad, can teach us so much if we keep our minds open.
Early in my career, my boss (the really bad one) was approached by upper leadership about my talent and a great opportunity for my future. Though instead of supporting me, my boss called me into his office and told me that he would be the only one to decide if I were worthy of a promotion. He said that I worked for him and that my only job was to make his branch profitable. It was clear to me that he was not focused on my growth but merely chased selfish ambition. A few days later, having learned that he had intentionally kept me from getting promoted, I left that job.
Today, this is one of the greatest lessons I have chosen to hold onto. It taught me that my job as a leader is to help other people get the jobs of their dreams. I committed myself to that belief after working for that bad boss almost 30 years ago, and I still strive to live that out every day since. I am proud to have had the opportunity to work with former team members who are now running their own organizations. From my own bad experience, I chose never to be the person who limits somebody’s career opportunities, period. Life is much bigger than pigeon-holing someone to your organization or company.
Outside of a classroom, very few lessons come labeled. As great leaders, it is our responsibility to be open enough to recognize when a lesson has or is occurring and then decide how it’s going to impact our lives going forward. True enlightenment often comes as a result of negative experiences.
The lesson I learned from a really bad boss: It is never all about me.
Question: What life lessons have shaped the leader you are today? Who could you impact by sharing those lessons?