Got a bad boss? They could be turning you into a better one

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Emily Reynolds
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Miranda Priestly

We’ve all had a bad boss – but, it turns out, there could be benefits

Having a horrible or incompetent boss can ruin even the best of days – and can have a severe impact on your enjoyment of your job, your mental health and even your physical health.

Research has found that bad bosses can increase stress, affecting how your family relates to one another, as well as raising your risk of heart disease. The impact is not insignificant. 

So you’ll be pleased to hear that having a bad boss might not be as incontrovertibly terrible as it seems at first glance.

That’s because victims of workplace abuse are actually more likely to treat their own employees better by “learning from the bad behaviour of their bosses”. 

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New research from the University of Central Florida found that many employees of abusive bosses are particularly keen to break the pattern, attempting to become “exceptional leaders of their teams”. 

“Our study sheds light on a silver lining of sorts for people who are subjected to abuse at work,” explained lead author Shannon Taylor. “Some managers who experience this abuse can reframe their experience so it doesn’t reflect their behaviour and actually makes them better leaders.”

Abused supervisors who used “integrity” to defy and distance themselves from their managers were much more likely to show “respect and kindness” toward their own employees – “despite the poor treatment they received from their own boss.” 

“The lesson here isn’t to hire more abusive managers, of course, but to try to encourage people who have been abused, among other things, to say, ‘Look, I’m not like my boss,’” Taylor said. 

“You can take a stand–  not just by reporting the bad behaviour, but by actively rejecting this abusive leadership style.”

Image: 20th Century Fox / Getty


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Emily Reynolds

Emily Reynolds is a journalist and author based in London. Her first book, A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind, came out in February 2017 with Hodder & Stoughton. She is currently working on her second.