You can become the horrible boss. But do you really want to?

Reading time: 3 mins

Do you remember your worst boss ever? Have you ever wanted to become like him/her?

I have seen a lot of HODs who became the stereotypical “horrible boss”.

I doubt they ever wanted to become like that. They probably also had their own annoying employers in their career as well.
They are/were just as good people as anyone could be. They also just wanted to do a good job.

Then what happened to them?

It all happens by surprise.

People who are promoted, are advancing because they are outstanding at what they do.

But what got them up till this level, are skills of an individual worker.

They were moved up the ladder because they can design amazing sets and costumes, create a world-class make-ups, operate that crane or pull focus flawlessly.
But did they ever need to communicate a vision clearly, delegate or motivate people to make it happen?

When these awesome professionals are suddenly promoted, they face a new challenge.

In order to create what they have imagined, now they need not just themselves anymore, but a bunch of other people.  Which is much easier said than done.

I remember the first time I had to work with a camera and lighting crew.
Before that, I was only shooting run-‘n’-gun style as a teenager.

In filmschool, I had to start working with a crew if I wanted to create compelling visual storytelling.

On set nearly nothing was done the way I have imagined it. Noone seemed to understand what I was telling them.

I knew that I needed a team to be able to create more than I was able to do alone. I couldn’t possibly focus on all these new tasks alone.
This made me wonder whether it’s not my crew doing something wrong but me.

Throughout schools, we are trained (more or less) how to achieve individual success.

But when was the last time we needed to motivate people to do something for us?

When we were around the age of 2 we were not yet able to do a lot of things, but we already knew what we wanted.
So we figured out ways to have those things done for us. What tools did we use to motivate? Mostly

  • shouting
  • crying
  • complaining.
  • wanting everything now
  • not listening to any reasoning

Have you ever seen these exact tools used by a horrible boss? 🙂

After this early age, we start learning. Not motivation and team-management, but how to do things for ourselves instead. This way we will never need a team to have our wishes done. Up the high point in our career.

When we step up to leadership, we start dealing with work we cannot possibly do just by ourselves. We need a toolset to get other people have our vision done.

Of course, we reach immediately for the tools we already have.
Usually not having practiced anything new since the age of 2, we reach back to those.

And here comes the turning point.

You will get frustrated right away if you start your leadership career by having people not doing what you have imagined. This way you can find yourself quickly on the “dark side”. If you feel like people are not doing what you are asking for then soon you will start doubting their abilities and motivation. You will start to dislike people.

  1. If you dislike people, they will dislike you in return.
  2. Then you reach back to the only tools ever learned in your life to have other people get work done for you. Shouting and complaining, etc.
  3. That’s when they lose all their remaining motivation.
  4. They will start doing things only out of fear of losing their job.

And as master Yoda said.

"Fear leads to anger... Anger leads to hate... Hate leads to suffering" - Master Yoda

“Fear leads to anger… Anger leads to hate… Hate leads to suffering” – Master Yoda

This is a rapid downwards spiral.

But it’s easily avoidable if you prepare for the role ahead.

You can’t possibly know when your promotion will take place, so start now. The worst thing that can happen is that you are VERY prepared by the time.

If there is even only one trainee working for you, you are a leader!

Start practicing before there will be 3, 10, 60 or 300 people working for you.

Always watch your team’s results, as it is a score of YOUR performance.
Ask for feedback from your team. Learn leadership continuously. Read books, google “good leadership”, get a mentor, etc. Find whichever fits you.

You can learn this, but it will take time.

Start now, put in energy, practice it on set, mess up, learn from it, do it again, stay open-minded.
Remind yourself of what kind of a leader you want to become.

Since we are here already: What kind of leader do you want to become? 🙂

We would love to hear your stories in the comments below!

Cover Photo by Jean-Pierre Brungs on Unsplash

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