If you can't stand your boss, you're like a lot of other people. Complaining about horrible bosses is something of an American pastime, but those bad bosses can actually be good for you. While studies show that people who like their boss tend to be the most productive and committed employees, many successful people credit bad bosses. Forbes magazine recently highlighted people who cited how their worst bosses became an asset. Whether they mean to or not, bad bosses have a way of motivating their employees. "The good thing about bad bosses is they can show other people how not to act and what not to do," says leadership expert Dusty Staub, from Staub Leadership International.
Bad bosses have a way of working through reverse psychology, explains Staub. "A bad boss, if they have rebels, can actually get better performance sometimes because they've got somebody really motivated to show them up and show them what they can do," he says. In that way, as the Forbes article pointed out, bad bosses can inspire people to achieve not because of them, but in spite of them. "You actually get a real stellar performance from somebody who's showing a bad boss that 'you're not going to keep me down, let me show you what I can do,'" says Staub.
At the very least, a bad boss can motivate you to leave a dead-end job and find something better. But even if the only positive motivation your boss provides is getting you to quit, Staub recommends taking the high road. "Leave on your terms, leave on your timetable, and never burn a bridge," he says. "Don't justify your bad behavior on the bad behavior of anyone else...leave with your head high."