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What to do When Someone Says, “You’re a Terrible Boss!”

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Have you ever been told, “you are a terrible boss!”? How did you respond?

What emotions come up for you, and how do you handle those emotions? How do you react?

It can be hard to maintain composure when a staff member or peer makes a critical statement directly to you about your abilities to manage and lead. However, it’s essential to recognize, at that moment, that the staff or peer are trying to tell you something about how you manage, or it could be completely unrelated, and they are making a strong statement because they are not being seen, heard, or understood.

As a leader with high emotional intelligence (EQ), it’s your responsibility to accept the statement as it is, maintain composure and ask appropriate questions so that your team member feels heard and supported.

If you are aware of your emotions, can manage your emotions, and understand the emotions of others, you have a path to handle the situation and successfully create a positive outcome.

Emotional intelligence, as defined by Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence (1995), is “… a person’s ability to manage their feelings so that those feelings are expressed appropriately and effectively.”

Goleman defines four domains of emotional intelligence:

  • self- awareness

  • self-management

  • social awareness

  • relationship management.

So, when faced with an upset employee pointing the blame at you, here are a few questions you can ask to understand the facts and emotions behind the statement.

  • “That is a powerful statement. I’d like to understand where that comes from – can you help me understand?”

  • “What specifically am I doing that would prompt you to make such a statement, and what can I do to help you?”

  • “Tell me more – I need to understand.”

  • “You seem to feel deeply about this issue. Can you tell me more about what is going on for you?”

With a strong understanding of your emotions, the ability to not immediately react emotionally and an understanding of others’ emotions, you have the skills and the knowledge to create a positive outcome from a difficult emotional situation.

Luckily for you, emotional intelligence can be learned, and nothing hones your skills more than practising emotional intelligence, especially in conflict situations.

TNZ consultants offer workshops and training to develop your leadership and emotional intelligence skills. Contact us for information or see our list of leadership courses for specialized courses.

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