How Do You Deal with an Abusive Leader? March 28 2013

Five years ago, I wrote a blog post that recapped reporting from The New York Times on just how tough mayoral aspirant Congressman Anthony Weiner was to work for. (Yes, the same Anthony Weiner who resigned from Congress a couple of years later for sending risqué direct messages to select followers on Twitter.)

cquinnAnd this week the Times profiles the leadership stylings of another candidate for mayor, New York City council speaker Christine Quinn. An abridged list of her attributes includes:

  • Regular high volume dressing downs of colleagues that are so loud her staff sound proofed her office so visitors couldn’t hear them.
  • Establishing a 15 minute limit for her staffers to respond to her emails or texts with the understanding that there are consequences for missing the window.
  • Casual and frequent references to cutting off the private parts of her adversaries.

One of the most commented upon posts on this blog was one I wrote a few years ago called Seven Simple Rules to Create a Fear Based Culture. Managers like Christine Quinn and Anthony Weiner pretty much check all the boxes on that list. Unfortunately, these kinds of leadership horror stories extend beyond the occasional candidate for mayor of New York and the rest of us have to deal with them.

What are the most egregious abuses of leadership that you’ve seen by people in positions of authority? More importantly, what did you do to maintain your sanity and integrity when working with these people? What are your options when you’re in this situation?

2 Responses to “How Do You Deal with an Abusive Leader?”

  1. J Willis says:

    As a fledgling program director in a government office, I was bullied by my boss into approving a substandard project. When the political flack inevitably came, he hung me out to dry and left me to defend "my" decision all alone. I learned a hard lesson on integrity and vowed ever after to stand my ground. There are strategies for handling all kinds of bad bosses but there's only one way to handle a bully — vote with your feet.

  2. workerbee says:

    Its sad that someone with so much power, has to play games and bully the entire office. Everyday we come to work and don't know what the mood will be, could be nice, could be nasty. Micromanagement is a sign of insecurity.

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