The #1 Reason People have Bad Bosses

Stress quote by Simon Sinek

One of the questions I get asked the most is, “Why are there so many bad bosses?”

The answer is very simple: There aren’t enough good bosses to fill all of the positions.

If there were enough good bosses to fill all of the positions, the bad bosses would be struggling to hold an entry-level position. Bad bosses would have to change (develop their character), or they would be changed (replaced).

However, this blog post isn’t about why there are so many bad bosses. It’s about the #1 reason people have a bad boss. Not everyone has a bad boss, but many go to work day after day and deal with a bad boss.

Why do people do that? They obviously don’t like doing it. Most of them moan, groan, and complain endlessly about “having to” work for a bad boss.

If you have a bad boss, the reason is probably not what you’re expecting. You may not even want to hear it. But, you absolutely need to hear it. And, you need to act on it, or nothing will change.

The #1 and only reason people have bad bosses is because they choose to work for them day after day.

Of course, those with bad bosses don’t blame themselves for “having to” work for a bad boss. You won’t hear them say I work for a bad boss because I choose to do it day after day. That would require them to accept responsibility and take action if they want to change their circumstances.

Instead, you will hear them blaming the bad boss for being who they are and acting the way they do. And, those with bad bosses will find others that feel the same way and are happy to join them in the blame game. They don’t accept responsibility for their choice to work for a bad boss day after day. They transfer it. When they do, they guarantee things will most likely remain the same.

I agree it’s the fault of the boss that they are the way they are and act the way they do. However, that has nothing to do with why someone works for a bad boss. These are two very different issues. One you can’t control. One you can.

Choosing to work for a bad boss has nothing to do with the bad boss and everything to do with you.

Many years ago, before I figured this out, I worked for bad bosses. But, once I figured this out and started developing myself, I began to create options for myself. Having more options means having more choices. One of those choices was to fire the bad boss and hire a new one.

What do I mean? I mean transfer to a different department or facility within the same organization or leave the company completely. Those who blame the bad boss don’t have this option. That’s why they blame the bad boss. However, a bad boss isn’t responsible for creating your options. You are.

I haven’t worked for a bad boss in years, and I will never work for a bad boss again. However, there are many that I worked alongside that blamed the bad bosses I used to have. Guess what? They are still working for the bad bosses. And, they are still blaming them. Therefore, nothing has changed for them.

There’s only one person that is truly responsible for your circumstances: YOU.

If you’re tired of working for a bad boss, what do you do? Quit! It’s really that simple for those with options.

If you can’t quit, why not? Why don’t you have options? What are you doing with all of that time between the time you get off work and the time you back to work?You decide if you pick up a beer or a book. You decide if you go to the beach or to a class.

You decide if you invest your time developing yourself and creating a better future or if you waste your time escaping from the life you’ve already created.

The bad boss doesn’t determine what you do when you’re not at work. However, what you do when you’re not at work has the biggest impact on where you work, what type of work you do, when you work, what you get paid to work, and most importantly, who (which type of boss) pays you to work.

In my early days working for bad bosses, I decided to go to college so I could become a “better” boss and get a better job working with a better boss. Was it hard? Absolutely! Did it work? Absolutely!

But, I didn’t stop with a four year degree that took me nearly eight years to get. I started reading process improvement books daily between 2005-2008. Then, in 2008, I began reading leadership books daily and will never stop. Everything in my life has changed as a result. Also as a result, I’m helping great leaders develop their people. I’m also helping people with bad bosses develop themselves, so they can walk away and create a better future for themselves like I did.

If you’re a part of the entry-level, blue-collar workforce, I’ve just written a book, Blue-Collar Leadership: Leading from the Front Lines, that the bad boss will not want you to read. It will actually benefit anyone with a bad boss regardless of the type work you do and regardless of your position. If you read it, learn the principles, and apply them, I can assure you that everything will change for you.

You will get noticed for the right reasons by the right people. You will get promoted for the right reasons. And most importantly, you will have options you’ve never had. And, you can say goodbye to any bad boss you encounter.

Stop blaming bad bosses for your circumstances. Take responsibility, develop yourself, and create options for yourself. If you don’t, no one else will. You must choose to make it happen.

Why You, and Everyone in Your Organization, Should Think and Act Like a Business Owner

Leadership Speaker Mack Story

Note: The principle of thinking and acting like a business owner applies to everyone in any industry at any level. And, it’s the secret to success!

The following is an excerpt (Chapter 7) from my newest book, Blue-Collar Leadership: Leading from the Front Lines. Click here to order the book. 

This entire book was written as a resource for developing the entry-level, front line, blue-collar workforce. In it, I help them understand why they should lead themselves well and how to lead themselves well. My goal is to leaders help their team members think and act like a business owner. When they do, everybody wins.

Chapter 7



When you take charge of your life, there is no longer need to ask permission of other people or society at large. When you ask permission, you give someone veto power over your life. ~ Albert F. Geoffrey

I’m about to share the inside scoop with you: the secret to success. As you read this chapter, keep the chapter on common sense in mind. Actually, you need to keep that chapter in mind throughout this book, but especially here because uncommon sense is needed to get the full value out of what I’ll be sharing.

Who do you work for? Think about it. Understanding your answer matters, and it matters a lot.

When I’m speaking to groups on leadership, one of the questions I often ask them is, “Who do you work for?” Immediately, people begin to shout the name of the company where they work. Some with great pride and others simply because they think that’s what I want to hear.

It’s always instantly clear to me they haven’t thought much about the answer to the question or the impact the answer has on their choices day in and day out while they’re at work.

I believe this will most likely be an eye-opening and key chapter for you as you begin to see things differently.

Once the shouting dies down, I follow up saying, I didn’t ask, who is paying you to work? I asked, who are you working for?”

Someone else is always paying you to work, but you are always working for yourself. This is true whether you own your own company or whether you work at someone else’s company. If you weren’t working for yourself, you wouldn’t expect to be paid.

For some reason, it’s easy for others to see that people who own their own business are working for themselves, but so is everyone else when you really think about it. And, you really need to think about it.

When people understand they are working for themselves, they have a different mindset. They see themselves as the business owner and everyone else as customers, potential customers, and/or as potential advertisers telling others about their business through word of mouth referrals. Everyone agrees word of mouth is the best type of advertisement.

They expect to serve the customers who are paying them to work, not be served by them. They care what customers think about doing business with them. They intentionally do a better job because they know it matters. They care how they make their customers feel because their customers will determine how well their business does in the future. Will it grow or will it slow? They want more business and as much positive word of mouth advertising as possible. Who wouldn’t?

You most likely work at a company owned by someone else. However, if you accept a payment for the service/labor you provide, you are definitely working for yourself. Let that sink in for a minute.

You are in business for yourself because you are working for yourself. Your product is physical labor mixed with shared ideas.

For many, this is an odd way to look at yourself and your job. No matter how odd it may seem, if you apply uncommon sense, it is crystal clear. As a result of this new discovery, your view on everything about your job and those you work with should be reconsidered. What needs to change?

The lessons in this book will now be even more important. That’s a small example of how being aligned with the proper reality can change your thoughts. When your thoughts are aligned with reality, you are much better positioned to build stronger relationships and achieve amazing success.

If the light bulb hasn’t gone off yet, let me help you. What this means is everyone you interact with at work is either a customer, potential customer, and/or a potential advertiser spreading either positive or negative word of mouth advertisement about your business: YOU.

To generate good profit, it’s critical not only to understand but to anticipate what customers value, their expectations, measures, incentives, needs, alternatives, and decision-making processes. ~ Charles G. Koch

This also means your boss is your #1 customer. He or she can help you or hurt you the most.

Do you treat them as your #1 customer? If you do, things are probably pretty good for you. If you don’t, anyone with common sense will know things may not be so good.

What type of word of mouth advertising is being spread about your business (YOU) throughout the organization by your boss and all of the other people you work and interact with?

All of those people will talk to others about you and how you serve them as customers, just as you do to others. When they are interacting with you for any reason, they are your customer. Just like when a business owner provides complimentary service and hopes the non-paying customer will, at a minimum, give positive word of mouth advertisement, this is what happens every day on the front lines. People talk about other people.

How you serve your paying and non-paying customers has a major impact on your promotions, your raises, your influence, your options, your growth in the company or your termination from the company, and ultimately, your future working in other departments or even other companies.

How you operate, your business, matters. And, it matters a lot!

The key to moving beyond average is doing what exceptional people do, not wanting what they have. ~ Mack Story

Hey Boss, Humility Will Make You a Better Leader


Merriam-Webster’s definition of humility:

  • the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” ~ C.S. Lewis

When we have humility, we should add value to ourselves but not focus on ourselves. We should value our achievements and successes, but we should focus on helping others achieve and succeed. Humility is a hard character trait to develop for some. However, humility strengthens the other character traits.

As you grow and get results, who you become during the process will greatly impact your influence. You can be very confident and be humble at the same time. The key is how you are being while you are confident. Humility is the foundation for confidence while pride and ego make up the foundation for conceit.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of conceit:

  • too much pride in your own worth or goodness

Merriam-Webster’s definition of conceited:

  • having or showing an excessively high opinion of oneself

Confidence and conceit are separated by a very fine line. The instant the positive confidence we have on the inside is expressed with arrogance on the outside, we have crossed the line. There is absolutely nothing wrong with valuing yourself highly and believing you can and will accomplish anything you set out to do. You should feel this way. What you do not have to do is tell everybody you meet about how great you are. Take Nike’s advice, “Just do it.” Go quietly and confidently on your journey.

Stop and Think: When you hear someone with conceit bragging on themselves about what they have done and are going to do, do you want to hear more? Do they have more or less influence?

One of the quickest ways to build trust is to get results. Things can get tricky in this area. When you are meeting someone or a group for the first time, in order to influence them at a high level, you must do two things. You must build a relationship with them based on your character (who you are). Humility is key here. You must also let them know you are competent (what you know) and have been successful in their area of interest. Results are key here.

Getting results is a competency trait. The quickest way to lose trust is through one of the character traits. Humility is weighted very heavily in the character equation. Little or no humility definitely lowers your trustworthiness. If you think it’s about you, you are more likely to believe you deserve the credit more than someone else.

“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” ~ John Wooden

You may or may not be a person of faith, but you surely understand you, like everyone else, were born with a specific set of natural talents. You did not have to earn them.

Wooden said, “Be humble.” You do not deserve the credit for your natural talent, so don’t try and take the credit. On fame, he said, “Be grateful.” Fame can only be earned through influence. You cannot decide you are going to be famous, only others can choose to make you famous by recognizing you for good or bad. Wooden said it best at the end, “Be careful.” He is talking about conceit. No one can make you conceited. Only you can choose conceit. You can also choose to be humble and avoid it. Both are choices.

To better understand humility, let’s look at what it is not. When someone chooses to be conceited, they are choosing arrogance, pride, and ego over humility. For these individuals, it is about power and recognition. It’s not only about getting the credit, but also about taking the credit from others to boost their own ego.

They need it. They seize it. And, they feed on it. Their influence, if they have any, typically comes through fear and intimidation manifested through a position of authority. This authority could be as a parent or a teacher. It could come from having rank or a title.

Without a position of authority and without resorting to violence, these people would not have very much influence. No one would want to follow them or do what they said do if they did not have to do it. These people get their influence from borrowing power and strength from their position or their authority.

If we’re a manager, a boss, a parent, have higher rank, or have been granted formal authority over others, borrowing power from our position does not automatically make us a higher level leader than someone without a position. It can actually lower our level of influence if the power associated with the position is abused. People who “have” to follow us will not give us 100 percent. They will resent us and withhold the extra effort a humble leader would easily earn.

Nearly everyone has had a “formal authority” boss with low level moral influence. Formal authority is about power and position over others. Moral authority is about humility and earning influence with others while respecting them regardless of one’s own position. One leader, we prefer not to be around or work with, and the other, we love and appreciate. With high level leadership (influence), we feel it more than we see it.

Whether you have a position of authority or not, if you want to increase your influence with others, the key is to develop strong, positive relationships based on your character. Consider the motive behind a conceited person and a humble person. Why do they seek to influence? Their benefit or someone else’s? What’s their intent?

Stop and Think: If you know someone is influencing you only to boost their ego, are they building trust or creating distrust? Will they have more or less influence?

Stop and Think: If you know someone has your best interest at heart and will give you the credit for your success, are they building trust or creating distrust? Will they have more or less influence?

You will never find an arrogant, prideful, ego driven person serving others. You may absolutely find them using others in the name of service, but they will be found out eventually. Humility serves while conceit deserves.

Stop and Think: If someone’s intent is to serve you, do they build trust or create distrust? Does their influence increase or decrease? Are they more likely to be humble or conceited?

Stop and Think: If someone’s intent is to be served by you, do they build trust or create distrust? Does their influence increase or decrease? Are they more likely to be humble or conceited?

“We have to humble ourselves and the way we do that is by serving other people.” ~ Tim Tebow

Be sure to check out my newest book, Blue-Collar Leadership: Leading from the Front Lines. It’s a resource for developing the entry-level, blue-collar workforce.

Mack’s story is an amazing journey of personal and professional growth. He began his career in manufacturing on the front lines of a machine shop. He grew himself into upper management and found his niche in lean manufacturing and along with it, developed his passion for leadership. He understands that everything rises and falls on leadership.


There is an “I” in Team

I wish someone would have given me this book nearly 30 years ago when I started my career on the front lines. It would have changed my life then. It can change your life now.

Separate yourself from the crowd quickly by learning how to master the traits High Impact leaders value most. You will learn how to get noticed for the right reasons and how to get promoted for the right reasons. You will learn how to become recognized as a front line leader worth following, and you don’t need formal authority (position) because you will develop something better: moral authority (influence).

Note: The following is an excerpt (Chapter 5) from my newest book, Blue-Collar-Leadership: Leading from the Front Lines. Order now by clicking here. I’ll be posting the first 5 of 30 chapters as a short series.

Click here to start with Chapter 1




“I’m just a plowhand from Arkansas, but I have learned how to hold a team together – how to lift some men up, how to calm others down, until finally they’ve got one heartbeat together as a team. There’s always just three things I say: ‘If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes real good, they did it.’ That’s all it takes to get people to win.” ~ Paul “Bear” Bryant

Paul “Bear” Bryant was one of the greatest college football coaches to ever lead a team of young men down the field. He was also a “plowhand” from Arkansas. A blue-collar worker. The blue-collar world has produced some of the greatest leaders of all time, so you should be proud and hold your head high. Without them, the world as we know it would not exist.

There’s nothing holding you back but you. As my blue-collar friend, Donovan Weldon, stated so well, “The only person between you and success is you. MOVE! The only person between you and failure is you. STAND FIRM!” Those are strong words of wisdom. Donovan started on the bottom just like you and me. But today, he’s the CEO of Donovan Industrial Service in Orange, TX near Beaumont.

Donovan’s success didn’t happen by accident. He made it happen. You can make things happen too! He’s a blue-collar leader that believes in and develops his team on a regular basis. I know because my wife, Ria, and I had the privilege of being brought in to speak to his team about leadership in 2014. They are making it happen on purpose for a purpose!

It’s time for you to stop playing small and start playing tall. A college degree is not required for you to play at a higher level. Not having one is simply an excuse some people use to continue playing small. If you want a college degree, use what you will learn on these pages to find a way to get one. If you don’t want a college degree, use what you learn on these pages to make it happen without one.

You are the key to your success. You must believe in yourself. You must grow and develop yourself, which is what you’re doing as you read this book. Do not stop growing! And when the time is right, you must bet on yourself.

Understanding your role as a team member is another must. Those on the front lines often underestimate themselves because they can’t see the big picture. They can’t see the value they have to offer. Far too often, their boss isn’t a high impact leader and needs a lot of growth and development too. Bosses are often given the title without any formal development.

When I write about the front lines on these pages, I’m not only talking about the people in entry level positions. Sure they are obviously on the front lines, but they also have leaders that are on the front lines with them and various team members supporting them too. They can all learn from these pages.

This book was written specifically for anyone at any level that visits, interacts with, or works on the front lines.

The principles I share with you must be applied if you want to make a high impact and be recognized for leading from the front lines. Regardless of your position, the more you apply these principles, the more options you will have, and the more positions you will be offered as you climb even higher.

Teams are made up of “I”ndividuals, so there are many I’s on every team, regardless of how many times you hear, “There is no ‘I’ in TEAM.” As a matter of fact, you are one of them. Every person on a team is an “I” and has the potential to lead (influence) the team, positively or negatively.

“Leadership is influence. Nothing more. Nothing less.” ~ John C. Maxwell

You must understand there are many official and unofficial teams in the organization where you work. They are very dynamic and constantly changing.
When most of us think of which team we are on, we immediately think of our peers, the ones on the same crew, in the same department, or working on the same job. This is our core team, but it only represents the smallest team we’re on. We also support other teams too, as others support our team.

When we choose to contribute beyond our immediate team, we are choosing to be part of a bigger team. Often, this only requires a choice to do so. Your choice to get involved in other areas sends a clear message to the high impact leaders.

When you play tall, you choose to contribute because you know it will increase your influence and your impact on the front lines. If you want to play tall, you should want to be noticed, to be selected, to volunteer, to share information, to accept more responsibility, and ultimately, to make a contribution at a higher level.

As a direct result of your choice to step up, your influence increases. You’re demonstrating you can lead from the front lines and will be seen and respected by all high impact leaders as a high impact leader. Your actions will not go unnoticed.

When you play small, you choose not to contribute because you don’t want to do more. If your goal is to coast until pay day, it won’t be a secret you can keep. When you make every effort not to be noticed, not to be selected, not to volunteer, not to share information, not to accept responsibility, and ultimately to not contribute, you will absolutely be noticed.

As a direct result of your choice not to step up, your influence decreases. Your influence on the front lines and with your leaders will be diminished. You are more likely to become reactive and frustrated blaming others for what you have chosen. Blaming others will further reduce your influence.

You first make your choices, then your choices make you.

“The most valuable player is the one that makes the most players valuable.” ~ Peyton Manning

I hope you’ve enjoyed the sneak peek into first 5 chapters. There are 25 additional chapters  packed full of great leadership principles and lessons. This book is a great new way to invest in those on the front lines and create trust with them by showing them they matter.