7 Lessons Bad Bosses Taught Me About Leadership.

7 Lessons Bad Bosses Taught Me About Leadership.

Have you ever suffered the commands from a bad boss?

“You work for me, so you have to follow all my commands” — Standard bad boss

I have worked for good and bad bosses. However, the bad ones really taught me how to avoid the same mistakes as they did with me and the rest of the team. I will tell you something more important, they motivated me to build my own path and to exploit my own potential.

Therefore, as in every failure or bad experience you can always learn from this and learn how to avoid these failures. This is the leadership I learned from bad bosses.

The way you communicate with others, it matters.

I work at sales helping partners and customer to secure their systems and networks.

  • The way I communicate with my partners and customers makes a big impact on the results.
  • The way you communicate with your kids, parents, friends, and customers make a big impact.
  • Therefore, the way you communicate with your employees makes also a big impact.

As a leader of a group or a company, you create a good or a bad mood in the way you communicate with people.

If you would like to communicate in a good way with your customers, Why should be this communication different with your employees? — Author personal suggestion.

Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes has a great impact.



Every person is fighting his or her own war every day. You can’t win this war for them, but you can contribute to don’t make this war harder for them. – Author Personal Motto.

How can you make a good impact by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes?

The answer is by understanding the emotions, concerns, and needs from individuals or groups. Be aware it is not the same sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is agreeing with somebody or a specific situation. Let’s be more practical with a real situation:

Have you ever felt down after having a conversation with a boss?

The situation, when a boss without any feelings creates your negative feelings.

I always felt down when a manager used to communicate with me as a robot. The main reason was, there weren’t any feelings behind, just orders and works. Have you ever experienced this situation?

I made aware to my manager about this and the answer was: “I personally don’t have any issue if somebody communicates like this to me.”

My answer to him was: “I understand you feel good in this way. However, not everybody feels the same situation in the same way as you feel this.”

Now, let’s imagine you are in the same situation. Would you try to put yourself in the other person shoes?

Treat a person as a human being not as a number.

Let’s try to understand both sides of the coin. What should bosses and entrepreneurs be aware of?

  • You are a startup. Thus, you are developing new markets from zero and you are doing an investment in the medium and long term.
  • Most probably you won’t have any profit in the first year.
  • You are a startup, not a corporate. Therefore, you have more reasons to treat the people as human beings and not as numbers.
  • If you are worried about the Profit and Loss (P&L) statement, then you should analyze how is the impact when a salesperson leaves your startup. I know small startups they closed after their main sales people left.
  • The employees don’t have to thanks to you because you are giving a salary. As I mentioned before, you are giving a salary in exchange for his/her services. Nevertheless, you always have the chance to thank each other for giving the opportunity to cooperate together.

In the other side of the coin. What should employees be aware of?

  • A company is not a charity organization.
  • A company is a business and you need to be profitable, otherwise, the company can’t survive and neither grow.
  • You are receiving a salary in exchange for your services.
  • You also make your own reputation. You decide if this reputation is a good or a bad one.

Therefore, here it comes again the importance of mutual awareness and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Every person has his/her own motivation.

Each person has his/her own personal motivations.

Understanding and fitting these motivations into the group according to each person motivation is a very difficult task. But, it pays you back by having motivated, efficient and long-term employees rather than don’t have these.

I will tell you another true story:

After one of my former colleagues showed his resignation from the startup, the management came to him offering a higher salary. My colleague didn’t accept it and keep his resignation. After this the management was confused, Why did my colleague refuse this? Because the company culture and management didn’t fit with my colleague.

The salary is not compensated with personal dissatisfaction in your day to day work. — Self Author Comment.

Does it sound familiar for you? Probably, you have lived this once.

What did I learn from this experience?

You should spend time to understand the motivation of each of your potential employee. Sometimes it won’ t fit your startup culture and can be a bad choice for you.

If you are not motivating to your employees, at least don’t kill their motivation.


You may not be surprised, but some bosses not only do not motivate their employees, but they also kill their motivation.

How do you kill your employee’ s motivation?

There is not a way because it depends on personal motivation. So the question is how to don’t kill it? The answer is more simple, just know the personal motivation of your employee and don’t go against this motivation.

What are the consequences of killing the motivation?

It can look obvious: By killing the motivation of a motivated worker, you are pushing to look for his/her motivation somewhere else.

And do you know what can become even worse?

The good employees can finish working for your competitor. They will also take with them technical knowledge, partners or customers. I have seen this happened with former colleagues.

Time is the most important value of the human being.

“It’s the only thing you can’t buy. I mean, I can buy anything I want, basically, but I can’t buy time”- Warren Buffett.

What you should be aware about the Human Being Time?

  1. Time is the most important value of the human being.
  2. Appreciate this and don’t despise this with meetings that do not add any value. Neither by micromanagement tasks.
  3. Always have a respect for their free or personal time, including holidays.

I personally recommend to invest this one minute and half of your time watching and thinking about the interview with Warren Buffet and Bill Gates:

You can also find the video at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nH5K0yo-o1A

There is not a perfect world out there, but you have the chance to choose your path.



Of course, there is not a perfect world waiting for you there. The theory is easier than the practice.

There are also external factors out there, some of them unexpected. And, still, it is up to you:

  1. The way you communicate with your peers.
  2. The impact you are willing to create on them.
  3. Being self-aware and discover how you make feel to your employees.
  4. Spend time with all your employees to discover what fuels their motivation and how to fit their motivation at your startup.
  5. Knowing the personal motivations is a plus for you. Don’t be against these personal motivations.
  6. Appreciate and respect the most important value of the human beings: their time.

What about you? What did you learn during your past experience?

I hope my experience helped you to become the leader you want to be or I inspired you to take your own path as I did.


Javier Nieto León

When I started as a Business Development Manager at a Tech Startup Vendor in 2014, I faced the issues and the pains about how hard it is becoming a global Tech Startups. The Startups Tips mission is to help your Tech Startups to go from Local to Global.

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