Collaboration Even Successful in Nature

In Shawn Achor’s latest book, Big Potential, he starts off with a story of lightning bugs in the mangroves of Southeast Asia.  This particular variation of lightning bug (Photinus Carolinus) synchronize their flashes to increase the likelihood of finding a mate.  Flashing alone, fireflies have a 3% chance of finding a mate, but by synchronizing, that probability rises to an astonishing 82%.  This is a simple example of how nature understands that working together collectively and collaboratively leads to greater combined success of the group and the individual.  This same phenomenon can enhance individual performance in organizations through collaboration that drives mutual success leading to personal growth.

By the way, in nature, this also causes a spectacular sight when the entire forest lights up at the same time with the lightening bug synchronization.

While, in this instance, nature figured out that collaboration produces better results than competition, it is counter intuitive to our beliefs or how we are raised that this could be possible for humans.  We continue to believe that we need to shine above everyone else to gain the spotlight.  This belief starts early in our lives and has been around for generations; however, it has been proven, through studies, that over time this obsession with being #1 has strengthened and has had a negative impact on true cooperation and ultimately both personal and organizational performance.

Companies continue to maintain “cooperation”, “collaboration” and “team work” in their corporate values slides; however, establish measurements that are counter to these statements.  For instance, it is very common for a challenge to be created along the lines of “the first team to achieve $100M in revenue receives a special bonus”.  On the surface, this may seem like friendly competition to drive both teams to strive harder to reach the $100M target.  But what if by cooperating the teams could have achieved $200M more quickly or even $250M by identifying additional synergies?

Throughout my career, I have seen examples on both sides of this equation – individualism undermining potential success and true collaboration driving greater success.  While maybe not flashing in 100% synchronization as the Southeast Asia lightning bugs, the teams operate toward common success and support the value of team strength.

In one instance, I was lucky enough to be part of an organization that grew revenues 7X in 4 years.  Additionally, we went from operating at a loss to significant operating margins.  While there were many reasons for this growth – great people, strong market and a leading product, other regions had many of these same elements, but lacked the level of collaboration that we created in our region.  While the corporate culture was more cut throat, we were lucky enough to be a remote region and isolated from that divisive atmosphere.  We knew that we wanted to deliver the highest corporate results, what we often referred to as “big bags of cash” to corporate (in the form of operating margin), and we had our style to drive that success.  Being in the Americas region and part of a UK based company, we were considered “cowboys”.

Our team was built with diverse core capabilities that could operate in unison to continue to deliver sustainable successful weeks, months and quarters.  4 key elements of the culture we built were –

  • Respect – the foundational core value that everything else layered on was respect. We listened to each other’s inputs, exchanged ideas and accepted constructive advice for improvement. Once organizations lose respect within their teams, the core will begin to crumble and put it in a downward spiral.
  • Commitment – each member of the team was committed to achieving our greater purpose and ended up with seeing significant opportunities for their personal growth. The team also experienced personal joy of collaborating.
  • Team Results – by setting a collective team target, made up of a combination of the individual goals with clear responsibilities, the team worked together. Even if an individual focused solely on achieving their personal targets, they may achieve that particular goal, but wouldn’t be specifically recognized until the collective target was achieved.
  • Accountability – as we worked toward the team targets/goals, there was a level of holding each other accountable as well as ourselves individually. Based on having a core value of respect, this was managed in a professional manner, but the reality was that everyone wanted to perform to support the team.

As you build out the culture of your company and team, remember the phenomenal increase in success that the lightning bugs in the mangroves of Southeast Asia achieved by collaborating and operating in unison.  I know you will see significant results.

A Teenager’s Perspective on Stress and Anxiety

By Gabriele White

Many teenagers get stressed out before tests or presentations in front of their peers.  It’s true that nearly every high school student goes through this. It is not true that this response has to take control and overwhelm you. Stress in these situations is self-induced and can be controlled by your own positive thoughts and actions. Believe in yourself and stay positive.

You can reduce your stress in many ways.  You can accept that you can’t change the way things happen or what people think of you.  You can prepare more for the test and you can choose not to panic or let the stress take over your thoughts.  Many teenagers become so focused on the story, “oh, I lm stressed” that they create increasingly more stress. In reality, if you tell yourself, I can do this and take it one step at a time you will be able to manage the stress and end up more successful and happier.

Teenagers tend to struggle with the concept of taking responsibility for their actions. They never think it’s their fault for putting everything off until the last moment.  They believe that the teacher shouldn’t have assigned such a dumb project.

Take responsibility for your actions.  More and more often you see teenagers blame their failures on others.  Not even other people but other objects too.  A lot of the times kids start believing that it really was “Sandra’s fault for not giving me the pencil so I couldn’t take the test” or “it’s my math teacher’s fault for not teaching.”  But let’s get real; you should have brought a pencil to class.  I mean it’s annoying Sandra didn’t give you a pencil, but it’s your fault for not coming prepared, and your math teacher is a teacher for a reason. She went through 4 years of training for this and I’m sure she’s doing better than most people would.  When you fail a math test, it’s your fault. When you screw up and get caught cheating, stealing, or doing something you shouldn’t be doing, it’s your fault. This may seem obvious to some people, but not to others. You have to admit it’s your fault and realize that consequences come with every decision.  You may not like them or want them, but they will help you learn and grow from these experiences.  Once you’ve done this and accepted the blame and failure, you’re no longer a victim. You can take control of your life and your feelings.

People feel pressure to always be in touch and posting online.  I mean, if it’s not on Snapchat did it really happen? Social media influences us to fit into society by being perfect and cool and funny and smart.  This can be stressful, overwhelming and lead to bad decisions, but we still check Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter during every free moment.

Whenever we go online we automatically start comparing ourselves to the beautiful filter covered photos. For me I know get jealous seeing all my friends on Snapchat hanging out while I’m practicing sports or just at home with my family. Some people would say this give you “anxiety and stress”. If that’s the case then maybe it’s time to put the phone down.

Snapchat is a great example of how technology controls us.  It makes me feel like I must Snapchat every day so I don’t lose my streaks.  Once I ran out of data and it was really stressful because I didn’t want to lose my streaks.  Rather than a choice, it became a burden. Once I stopped, I found that losing my streaks made me feel better, almost freed.

Also, don’t define your best friends by the list of 7 people you snapchat the most. Snapchat who you want to Snapchat; and don’t worry if they aren’t who you hang out with. Don’t let this computer generated list define your life.

I recently noticed that I have touched my phone every day for nearly 2 years.  Yet I am not sure I have hugged my parents or brothers or anyone every day of those two years.  Also, my phone has seen my face for a longer period of time than any one person. Our phones have become the center of our lives .

We use them to connect with people who are hundreds of miles away from us. As cool as that is, there’s actually people who are less than 20 feet away from us who are perfectly capable of having a conversation in person. I believe many teenagers do not realize that our body’s already have this connection feature and it doesn’t cost extra or take time to install.

I am not saying that having a phone or social media is bad.  I ‘m just saying if you allow it to control your life, you miss out on more personal connections.  You become a victim of technology rather than allowing technology to enhance connection. We are allowing our phones to consume us. While reading this, you’ve probably gotten 3 new notifications, and you may have even stopped to read them or at least check to see if they were important.

Appreciate where you are in life and who you have around because eventually they won’t be there anymore. My family consists of five people; me, my two older brothers and my parents. One of the hardest things lately is that my two older brothers are moving out of the house. I never thought the day would come.  They will always still be children, even if legally they are considered adults. I’ve been scrambling to absorb every detail of these last years.  I don’t want to forget what it was like rushing, pushing, and shoving as we race up the stairs to bed. I realized that not one of these memories came from my phone through Snapchat.

Stop wishing you were somewhere else with someone else. If you aren’t where you want to be, then change it. If social media brings you down then put it down. Make real life memories. Stop letting the virtual reality become your only reality.

Throughout your life you will face hardships, but you have to persevere. Don’t give up because life is difficult. You can’t expect a great life to be handed to you; you’ve got to work for it.  This has been said many times, but it hasn’t sunk in for many of us. So I am saying it again.  You are in control of your life. You decide what to do with the difficult times. Don’t give in to stress and anxiety.  Take responsibility, make good choices and fight through it.

Lesson #26 – Keep Track of Who Signed up for What

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book.

At every meeting and through email when we weren’t having meetings, Alexia would ask each of us about our deliverables. She usually took notes on the agendas and wrote down what everyone was responsible for. She always knew what we needed to do and checked in to confirm it had been done. We felt accountable to deliver for her each week. Several of our team members had other priorities and if Alexia hadn’t stayed on top of it, they would not have put in the time to work on the PLP stuff.     Austin Hatcher


Lesson: Keep track of who signed up for what.

A simple step for being an organized leader is writing down the actions each person has agreed to take and by when they will be completed. This small task keeps the teams on track and helps ensure the team is actually accomplishing something vs. just meeting, talking, and coming up with great ideas, but then not getting anything done. As a leader, “Inspect what you expect.” If you expect a team member to accomplish a task, you have to inspect whether they are on track for completion. There will be a few members who don’t need the reminders, but the rest will welcome your help.


Opportunity: Determine how you will you track assignments at your next meeting.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Is Your Chase for Success Killing You?

On August 15th, 2013, Moritz Erhardt, an intern working for Bank of America in London, died from complications created by working three days straight without sleep. He was doing a “turnaround,” which consists of an employee working all night, taking a cab home at 6 am, asking the cab to wait while he gets a quick shower and change of clothes, then hopping back in the cab to go back to work. He never got back in the cab. He was found dead in his shower. What happened?

Moritz’s death is a dramatic and immediate example of how our culture encourages many people to blindly chase success while being oblivious to the negative impacts it has on their happiness, on their health, and in certain cases on their lives. For most people these things develop over decades. The signs are there, but they are much more subtle and obscure.

I have worked with dozens of people over the past decade who speak about, research, and live happiness and success. We have analyzed definitions of success collected from hundreds of  people and found that most contained the word “happiness,” or at least concepts related to happiness. Most people connect success and happiness in their minds but have difficulty making the connection in their actions. Much like Moritz, only to a lesser degree, they pursue success single-mindedly, with the expectation that they will be happy once they achieve success; and that the more success they achieve, the happier they will be. Unfortunately that formula is backwards.

Success doesnt lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Personally, I have been in business settings for over 35 years, and I have seen hundreds of examples of people working hard and unwittingly sacrificing happiness in pursuit of success, which they think will make them happy. It starts out innocently enough–not having time to go out with friends, not getting home in time for dinner with a spouse or kids, not having time to exercise or pursue a fulfilling hobby–but soon amounts to missing positive moments in life because they are busy trying to build a life that will be full of positive moments.

The drawback doesn’t reveal itself until 5 or 10 years down the road, when a goal set early on has been achieved (a raise, a promotion, or a nice car); but for some reason, the satisfaction and fulfillment that were supposed to accompany the goal…don’t. I have seen both men and women break down crying from the stress of wanting to give 100% in their work, yet feeling sad and unfulfilled because they were missing time with their new baby or significant other. Have you ever met someone who felt they’d missed their biggest opportunity? It’s sad. Because missing important moments in your life leads to stress, and stress leads to unhappiness, disease, and a host of other challenges.

One example is a woman I worked with. Her name was Tina.

Tina was poised and confident, the kind of person that her peers wanted to emulate and every manager wanted to hire. She showed great leadership and had tremendous success early in her career. Five years, two promotions, and one baby later, she was sitting in a restaurant, tears streaming down her face from the stress of trying desperately to be successful in so many areas of her life while wondering what happened to the promise of happiness. She is one of hundreds of examples that played out in many different ways, but always had the same root cause. The long hours of hard work and dedication were never paid off with happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction. They only led to more long hours and hard work in trying to reach the next goal, which itself was supposed to lead to happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction.

Let me say it again: Success doesnt lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.


The challenge is that people get caught up in an ambitious chase for success and unwittingly delay or even bypass their opportunities for happiness with the belief that happiness would come after the project was finished, after the next promotion, after the next big bump in salary, or after they land that next perfect job. Too often, it doesn’t come as expected, and they end up forever looking over the horizon believing that happiness is just over the next hill. Those I have observed who did find happiness made simple, uncomplicated choices and changes in their lives. They found the secrets of happiness, and as a result, also became much more successful in the process.


Do you think your chase for success will lead to happiness?


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

How Happy and Successful Do You Feel?

Most people feel relatively happy and successful, and at the same time are looking to become even happier and more successful. It is natural to feel like there is more and to want to move to that next level. It is an instinct that helped our ancestors survive and prosper. The challenge is that many of us don’t know what steps to take to become happier and more successful, or we don’t know the correct steps. See if you identify with any of the examples below.

Have you ever woken up to the alarm and hit the snooze button too many times because you just didn’t want to get out of bed and go to work? Have you ever had that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach where you can’t imagine going back into that office and facing that sadistic supervisor who seems to want to make your life miserable? What about that crazy manager in the other department who makes your life difficult just because she can?

Have you ever left the office at 8 or 9 pm with four more hours of work to do and three impossible deadlines for the next day? Have you ever felt so overwhelmed you wanted to cry or hide somewhere? These feelings can be especially confusing, given that six months ago you were on top of the world and everything was going great. Sometimes we feel as if we are on top of the mountain; at other times, down in a deep valley. What’s going on?

Have you ever worked and worked and worked to get a promotion or raise you deserve, been really excited for about 30 days, and then wondered when the next raise or promotion would come? Have you ever gotten your life perfectly in line with your dreams, had everything on track, and then sat back and asked the question, “Why don’t I feel happy? I should feel happy; what’s wrong with me?”

Have you ever felt like what you did just didn’t seem to matter and wasn’t as important as what everyone else was doing? Have you felt like no matter how hard you tried you just couldn’t make a difference? Does it ever seem like you are constantly banging your head against a wall and nothing ever changes?

These feelings are all natural and are indications that, armed with a little more information, you can take steps to become happier and more successful. As part of our culture, we learn to chase success as an end result rather than a daily habit. We are taught that the reward for success is happiness, and some day we will get to be happy if we just fight through and spend enough time being unhappy.

Happiness and success are connected. They are intertwined in our actions, but they are not a pinnacle we reach. They are daily habits and practices. They are small things we choose to do every day that eventually lead to milestones of success along a journey that lasts our entire lives. The antidote to the feelings described above is to choose positive actions every day that will help us feel contented and fulfilled, that will help us feel like we matter and can make a difference, and that will help us feel hopeful and excited to get up every morning.

Research also clearly indicates that happier people are healthier, have better relationships, and are more successful. Stress kills. So the antidote to stress, which is the cause for many health challenges, is happiness.

The good news is that there are steps you can take, and choices you can make, to be happier.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Lesson #31 – Make Time for Yourself

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book.



This weekend was exactly what I needed! I was able to spend some time with my friends and my family, as well as get some work done! I was able to spend some time getting my to do list put together and making a plan for the week so that I can get as much done as possible! In addition, I was able to spend some quality “me” time and tons of playing with my dog time! I am feeling very refreshed and ready to go for the week!

See you in the morning!




Today has been a good day! I got up and had my classes then PLP office hours where I got a lot done! (I also have the jump drive Rachel wants me to give you with a copy of your presentation on it.) Afterwards, I had some productive homework time! I continued to try your tips (changing scenery, taking breaks filled with movement, fresh air, and me time, etc). It seems to really be helping me stay productive when I’m working and relaxed during my breaks. And getting out of my room I think has helped my productivity the most!

To add to good news, I have breakfast plans and a massage with Shannon in the morning! So hopefully, tomorrow will be an even better day! Talk to you soon!


Lesson: Make time for yourself.

One of the keys to being a good leader is setting a good example and taking care of yourself. Unfortunately, none of us has an unlimited supply of energy. We need to pause and renew. We need to pull back from the world and take care of ourselves so we can be prepared and full of the energy we need to help others. Make time each day to focus on your health. Take time to renew your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy. Go for a walk or call a friend. Rather than sitting at your desk all day, get up and take a walk or find a change of scenery. Go outside and get some fresh air. Take time for a pleasant meal and conversation with friends and family. Take a few moments to contemplate and write down your dreams or the things in life you are grateful for. Make time for yourself to renew your energy and you will find an abundance of energy to lead others.

Opportunity: Schedule some “me” time.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Lesson #21 – Make Each Day Productive

She was tragically taken from us, but her legacy lives on.  Every few weeks we will share excerpts from the book.


Today was a productive day full of staff bonding, training, meeting with Rachel to catch up on PLP things and accomplishing some McKesson work tonight. I’m now doing journals and am off to bed!




I had a very busy productive day between RA and PLP! I accomplished A LOT in the last 24 hours! And I am now off to bed!!




I had some me time this morning and continued with some exercise this morning. Had RA training and fun relaxing activities today. And after tonight’s SD meeting, I am caught up with PLP stuff for the next week. I just did my journals and I am off to bed!




I completed all my stuff for today, had a successful first PLP SD meeting and Wednesday meeting and am now off to bed!



Today has been a good day! I went to breakfast and got a massage with Shannon! Then we had a long but productive student director meeting. I also got a few cases read between SD meeting and member meeting. I got a little exercising in and then did nothing but GMAT problems while working desk tonight!

I just finished up my me time and journaling and am now off to bed!

Talk to you soon!



Lesson: Make each day productive.

Are you making progress on your goals every day? Are you accomplishing the things you need to get done, or are you caught up in the chaos of life? In one of the emails above, Alexia started the day with a good breakfast and then spent time nurturing relationships and taking care of herself. Then she had a productive meeting with her team, the Professional Leadership Program Student Directors. She got her homework done, fit in some exercise to stay healthy, and went to work at her second job as a Resident Assistant and found time to study for her GMAT to help her prepare for her goal to get a combined MBA/Law degree. Finally,  she ended the day with some journaling and making sure she got plenty of sleep. Alexia was not super human. She was organized, disciplined and committed to her goals. Anyone, including you, can have this kind of productive day. Set your goals, clarify your priorities, and create the discipline to follow through.


Success and leadership are not a result of one great accomplishment or one big action. They are a result of lots of productive days doing the right things related to your goals day in and day out, over and over again. It has to become routine and habit to know what your priorities are and to make sure you create a little progress on those priorities each day. The big wins are almost anti-climactic because they come after many routine days of taking the actions that are moving you towards accomplishment of that big goal. Don’t wait for the right opportunity to be a leader. Don’t wait for success to happen. Long term happiness is created by lots of productive days strung together that lead to success, not by one big win in a lucky moment. Make leadership and success a part of your daily routine. Make them habits that happen every day and are an integrated part of your life.

Opportunity: Evaluate how productive was your day today and determine how can you make tomorrow more productive?



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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness Hack #66 – Set New Goals

happiness_newgoals #66

Goals give us something to look forward to and get excited about.  They energize us and get our creative juices flowing.  Setting goals is not just about what we want to accomplish, it is about how they make us feel.  Knowing where we are going gives us confidence and helps us quickly take those first few steps in the morning.  Just thinking about the possibilities of what we might accomplish helps us believe in and be happy about the prospects of a positive future. Goals help us clarify our priorities and be more confident in our decisions.

Take few moments to set a few new goals. Reaching for them and even just thinking about them will make you happier and more successful.


book_imgRW_Alexias_Legacy_book3d Happiness Hacks Cover

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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

School for Start-ups Radio Interview

Click Here to Listen


Why Entrepreneurs are Less Happy – at 5 minutes 55 seconds


Why I Teach Happiness and Success – at 10 minutes 25 seconds


Defining Happiness – at 12 minutes


Why Happiness Leads to Success rather than Success Leading to Happiness – at 14 minutes 35 seconds



The Secrets to Happiness and Success – at 20 minutes 40 seconds




How to Be Happy and Successful with Bad Bosses: Part 2

This is a follow-up to an article from, titled the worst bosses in film. The article provided a great summary of the different types of bosses we run into. The film versions are exaggerated but still highly representative of the types of bosses most of us have experienced at some point in our lives.


I thought it would be helpful to provide ideas about how you might deal with each kind of boss in a way that will help you be happier and more successful.


Let’s start with two secrets that will help you be happier with any kind of boss.


The first secret is that your bosses, no matter how mean and nasty they are, don’t make you unhappy. It is not what they say or do that makes you unhappy, it is how you choose to internalize what they say or do. They don’t have control of your life or your happiness, you do.

The second secret is having an “Autonomy” account. This is 3 to 6 months of salary in a bank account. We are all happier when we have autonomy, the ability to choose actions that will impact our lives. An “Autonomy” account allows you to get up every morning and decide if you want to go to work or not. You could decide not to work because you have a choice. Your savings will get you through a job search. More importantly it gives you a cushion to make the right decisions at work, even if the boss might fire you. It lets you sleep better at night because you have a cushion if you get laid off. Start building your “Autonomy” account today, even if it is as little as $100 per month.


Now let’s talk about how you deal with the unscrupulous, the ghost, and the incompetent boss.



The “Unscrupulous Boss”


The “Unscrupulous Boss” will lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want and to get noticed or promoted by upper management. This is one of the few bosses where quitting is a good option. Integrity is everything and you don’t want to get caught up in or associated with anything that could damage your reputation or your integrity.


“Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career.” Ryan Freitas


If your company is unwilling to recognize your boss’s lack of integrity, then you shouldn’t be a part of that culture. There is no solution for working with a boss you don’t trust, who takes actions that are illegal or unethical, or worse yet expects you to. Although it may not seem like it at the time, there is always a better option.


There is also a more common form of the “Unscrupulous Boss” that is not as blatant or as clearly unethical as we described above. They tend to cross the line every now and then and seem to be good at heart, but just sometimes make bad decisions due to pressure or ignorance. Unfortunately you still can’t afford to be associated with this type of boss. You have to report their illegal or unethical actions immediately so that you don’t end up becoming a part of the crime or cover-up. The careers of the people with good intentions are often ruined while the truly guilty seem to find a way to slide through unscathed. Don’t stay with a boss who takes actions that are illegal or unethical. Your reputation and your integrity are way too important. You will be much happier and more successful when you find a more positive environment.



The “Ghost Boss”


The “Ghost Boss” is becoming more and more common, especially as the number of people working from home swells exponentially. They never seem to be around and are hard to find when you need them. They are constantly on business trips, in meetings, or just working from a different location. The good news is they are not necessarily a “bad” boss, they are just difficult to work for if you don’t put the right structure in place.

The secret to being happy and successful with a “Ghost Boss” is to schedule regular meetings and provide regular updates via text, email, or voicemail. Send them your goals at the beginning of the week or month and then show them that you accomplished those goals at the end of the week or month. Have an agenda ready for each meeting and ask them regularly what else they need from you. With a “Ghost Boss” it is usually better to solve the problem and tell them your solution, decision, and next steps rather than asking them to solve the problem. They trust you or they would be communicating more often. Reward that trust by making decisions, taking action, and keeping them informed. A “Ghost Boss” can provide you with a lot of autonomy and opportunity. Create a structure that works for both of you and you will be happier and more successful.

“Incompetent Boss”

The “Incompetent Boss” doesn’t know the industry, their particular position, or just doesn’t know how to lead. There are all kinds of reasons the Incompetent Boss gets their job. Maybe they were really good at a lower level job, maybe they have a good friend or family on the executive team, or maybe they have just been around so long, they got promoted because of seniority. Whatever the reason, they are still your boss and you still need to find a way to deal with them in way that makes you happy and successful.


The conundrum with an “Incompetent Boss” is they know they are incompetent, but they don’t want anyone else to know. Even though it is obvious to everyone, their worst fear is that anyone finds out. So they will try to hide their incompetence at all costs and will become very defensive any time it is brought to light; which means they will make you look bad, rather than take the blame themselves. So the secret to managing an incompetent boss is to help them look good. Subtly give them ideas and tips to get them on the right track. Implement what works instead of exactly what they tell you when you know it doesn’t work. They will quietly appreciate your help even if they don’t give you public recognition. Take the role of an unofficial leader and help your team be successful. Don’t let people stand around and wine and complain about your boss’s incompetence. Do what needs to get done so that you all feel good about the team’s accomplishments.


An important note: Don’t wait for your boss’s incompetence to be recognized by the higher level management team. Unfortunately, that could take a long time if it happens at all. Instead, become a leader on your team and look for other opportunities that come your way as your leadership is recognized throughout the organization. Help your team and your “incompetent boss” be happy and successful and you will be happier and more successful.




The most important thing to remember about bad bosses is that they are human too. Many of us are bosses now, and the rest will probably be a boss at some point in our career. The sad truth is that statistics show that only about 1/3 of us will be good bosses. The rest of us will be “bad bosses” and make similar mistakes as the bosses described above. So how do you want to be treated when you make those mistakes? Do you want to be forgiven and helped, or persecuted and demonized? Treat your “bad boss” the way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes. Help them become a better boss. Help them be happier. Making that effort will make you happier and more successful.


Check out The Worst Bosses in Film:

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