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Is Your Boss from Heaven or Hell?

Updated on October 17, 2012
Hate your boss? Does that really mean that he is a bad manager?
Hate your boss? Does that really mean that he is a bad manager?

How to Tell if Your Boss is From Heaven or Hell

Much has been written about the boss from hell but not much has been written about the boss from heaven. He or she does exist. There are employees, admittedly a small percentage, who think their boss is great. But what makes for the difference between whether a boss is seen by the employees as good or bad? Is it his personality, her management style or approach or how he treats employees?

We know from expert studies that bosses come with all types of personalities: some are loud, aggressive and gruff while others are mild, diplomatic and pleasant; some are demanding and easy to anger and some are calm and patient. Yet for each personality type there will be employees who will adore the boss and others who frequently wish he would die. But regardless of their personality or their management style, why is that some bosses are well liked by some of their employees and hated by others? Indeed, why is it that some bosses are loved by all of their employees and other bosses are universally hated? But to go deeper into this, does the fact that most employees like a boss-consider him or her to be from heaven-really mean that the boss is necessarily a good boss or manager? And does the fact that all or most of a boss’s employees think he is from hell necessarily mean that he is a terrible manager?

An example to answer these questions can come from many sources, but let us try one from World War Two. There were numerous famous and decorated generals in that event, but two of the more famous were George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower. Both were considered to be effective leaders and highly successful in that war, yet two more contrasting personalities and military management styles would be hard to find. Eisenhower was a diplomat, an administrator a careful and deliberate decision maker, and these qualities and others enabled him to hold together a difficult alliance of impossible egos among the Americans, English and the free French to pull of the most ambitious and successful invasion in modern history. Patton was anything but a diplomat: his often profane and always undiplomatic lip got him in frequent trouble with his superiors.

As far as the reactions and feelings of the people under them, the troops, they loved Eisenhower and would have followed him to the gates of hell-and in fact they did when they landed on Normandy. As for Patton, they either feared or hated him or both. In fact, they labeled him “Old blood and guts-our blood and his guts.” Yet, they would have followed him also to the gates of hell, as well. In fact, he got his tanks to go further, faster and take more prisoners than any other tank commander in the history of tank warfare.

Two leaders with different personalities and management approaches, yet both considered excellent leaders. Why? How could they be so different and yet be so similar? One thing: RESULTS. They both were very different but placed in situations that made their strengths lead to success. Eisenhower was made for his role as allied commander, but if he had been placed in Patton’s role as a battle field commander he would have been lost, never having commanded troops in battle before. And if Patton had been made allied commander, the alliance would have exploded and the D-Day invasion would never have happened.

The boss is no different than a general in the military, though his management style and approach is probably quite different. The boss may be universally hated by his employees and thought to be straight from hell, but if he gets his employees to perform well at low cost or waste, he will be-or should be-considered a good boss. And if a boss is universally loved by his employees, but his people consistently under-perform and produce much waste, he will-or should be-considered a bad boss.

Bosses may be loved or intensely hated by their employees, but whether they are loved or hated by their bosses, by higher management is whether they can get their employees to respect them, to follow them to be motivated enough to do their jobs well. The boss who is from heaven in the eyes of his employees may be from hell in the eyes of higher management and the boss who has the image of evil in the eyes of his employees may be deemed to be from the heights of heaven by his bosses. It all depends on the results he gets from his management, not on the extent of his popularity with his subordinates.

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    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 6 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Excellent hub. I thoroughly enjoyed your perspectives on leadership!