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Old 08-01-2007, 05:10 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Nords View Post
When I was at school preparing for my second submarine tour, my assignment officer was trying to find me a Pearl Harbor billet (spouse co-location). I must've been swapped among five or six different boats as he tried for a good fit.

He called me one day to say "This is it, Weapons Officer aboard USS NEW YORK CITY, and this time I really mean it!" I announced it to my classmates and when the cynical laughter died down a couple of the Hawaii guys said "Hey, isn't that Tom Travis' boat? Didn't he just get a new Weps a few months ago? I wonder why they need a new one so soon... ruh-roh."

I asked spouse to check the Pearl Harbor grapevine and she said whenever she mentioned at social gatherings that I was going to NYC the submariners would fall silent and later come over individually to offer their quiet commiserations & sympathy. I was beginning to feel like a prisoner hearing his firing squad being mustered for rehearsal.

I'd never seen such a miserable imitation of a human being. It wasn't that he was insensitive to other's feelings & concerns-- he knew all about them, didn't give a damn, and would use them against you. He wasn't just a "My way or the highway" leader, he was at the top of the "My way or I'll kill you" class. He used to yell at people "Perform or die!!" and throw karate backfists. Several OODs were asked to give him their turnover reports by holding a karate sparring pad and having him kick & punch them up & down the command passageway while they said their words. "Sir, I've been *hunh!* properly relieved as Officer of *oomph!* the Deck by LT *ooof!* Schmuckatelli..." It was the only crew I've ever been in where the troops felt sorry for the officers.

It turned out that my Weps predecessor had begun to stress out, later coughing up blood and volunteering for a psych eval before leaving the crew. When I reported aboard I joined one of the most dysfunctional wardrooms I've ever been associated with, including at least one paranoid psychotic and a second raving egomaniac (besides the CO). My reputation and my ignorance of attack submarines preceeded my arrival, however, so the CO correctly assumed that I knew nothing and had potential. However emotionally disturbed we all were, I was treated pretty well by comparison because the boss thought he'd taught me everything I knew.

Oddly enough he's a heckuva tactician. He's one of those warfighters who you'd follow through the Gates of Hell, knowing that he'd bring you and your crew back alive. After he left NYC he took over training for Prospective Commanding Officers and later ran a squadron. He was the embodiment of ADM King's philosophy "When the going gets tough, they send for the real sons-of-bitches."

So although he was the third-worst boss I'd ever had, I learned a lot from him about leadership (most of it by negative example). Of course I learned even more from my #1 & #2 worst bosses-- which is why today I'm very happy to be living without a boss, totally independent, ruler of my domain, and master of my fate.

Whoops, gotta run. Wife's calling.
Sounds like a former Marine that went Navy hehe.

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Old 08-03-2007, 05:48 PM   #22
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My only boss of significance was an amazing leader, relentlessly driven and focused, worked 12 hour days or more and expected the same from everyone, and in hindsight was extraordinarily patient, and fairly wise. Faults too I'm sure, but far outweighed by skill and drive. I would say for most of the time I worked for him, I would claim we did not click. I believe I would be less of a person today had we been chummy or overly casual at work. It was the high bar that helped drive me to learn and correct my actions and thoughts, and ultimately helped to get out of the mindset of just going to work, and into pursuing goals instead. And personally, that the main cause of failure in life is oneself, either ones ignorance, denial, or lack of will to think constantly about what's important, rather than simply what comes to mind.


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Old 08-03-2007, 09:14 PM   #23
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Throughout nearly 40 years of w&*k, I was extremely fortunate to have a series of wonderful LEADERS as bosses, each of whom taught me far more than I ever learned in any classes, seminars or other training. I consider each of these people my mentors.

Unfortunately, my luck ran out with my last boss (I hate to even use the word to describe this person) at MegaCorp.

So, how bad could bad be??

Boss was a closet alcoholic who would sometimes stay in the office overnight, drinking while reviewing staff submissions and other paperwork. During the night, Boss would write notes to the staff that were demanding, demeaning, insulting, mean, rude, threatening -- well, you get the idea. (I kept every single one of them, you'll find out why in a moment.)

In meetings, Boss would sometimes "go off" on one of the staff (usually whoever was sitting closest). These rants were much like the notes, but often were accentuated with a threat of being fired.

Shortly before I decided I'd had enough of this, Boss apparently was involved in a messy affair that resulted in lawsuits by both parties. Although I knew (and still know) nothing about the details of any of this and was clear about this in my supoenaed appearance before a judge -- Boss decided to make my life even worse, even though they ultimately managed to settle the lawsuits quietly and without any damage to Boss' career.

So for the next few months, I was given assignments with deadlines of three or four hours -- typically an assignment that would have taken 36 to 40 hours to complete. One Friday afternoon at about 4:30 I was directed to appear in Boss' office by 5 pm with more than 100 files for review -- I did so and then learned that Boss had left the building to begin vacation and wouldn't be back for a week! Another time I was assigned to fly on short notice to New York for a meeting; got paged when the plane landed at LGA and was told "Boss changed mind; you must be back in the office later today for meeting with Boss." This stuff continued and got worse over time-- as did those infamous notes.

When I finally couldn't take it another moment, I went to the head lawyer for the MegaCorp and said I wanted out. Once I shared copies of some of the documentation, like the notes, it was surprisingly easy to negotiate my way out on my own terms.

Unfortunately, Boss is still in the same job, although most of my former colleagues have either left the department or "quit on the job." I just learned this week that one of my former colleagues has now filed suit against Boss for what sounds like the same treatment I endured. No clue how Boss managed to keep their job this long. Whatever.

Only good thing to come out of this mess? I was able to RE early on my own terms.
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Old 08-04-2007, 05:41 AM   #24
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I have had some good bosses and some poor bosses.

Although, I will make a distinction.
  • Trait - Bosses that are empathetic, concerned, and fair handed with their direct reports.
  • Ability - Good Managers/Leaders.
Those two do not always go together. I think we all like managers that seem to care about us as individuals (We tend to trust them implicitly). But I have had some bosses that I really liked that were inept managers. They had things in such a shambles that I was miserable with my job.

At the same time, a boss is working for the company and by definition, their job is usually to get high performance out of their direct reports. This part of the job often creates some level of tension. A little tension is natural and normal... The boss always has the job of asking people (from time to time) to do things they do not want to do.
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Old 08-04-2007, 09:40 PM   #25
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I have had some crazy bosses....totally nuts. One of them when I worked at would take us out drinking after the second shift ended....she would flip out, accuse us of sleeping with her boyfriend (she was married with kids), she told my friend that she would have to try cocaine if she did not want to fired, and numerous other crazy scenarios.
I had another woman a couple of years ago who would try to get me to drink with her. Once I was out sick for a week and she flipped out....told me that I was not performing up to par, took away my projects, and basically made my life a living hell.
My current boss is absolutely amazing...he is the most down to earth guy who puts his family first and understands when things come up in your life. He is supportive of my artistic pursuits and understands when I take off some time to work on my endeavors. I have asked him if I am able to take a sabbatical for a month next year....I am applying for an artist retreat and if I get accepted, I would definitely pursue it.
I guess sometimes you have to get the freaks to appreciate a good one!
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Old 08-26-2007, 08:11 PM   #26
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he is the most down to earth guy who puts his family first and understands when things come up in your life. He is supportive of my artistic pursuits and understands when I take off some time to work on my endeavors. I have asked him if I am able to take a sabbatical for a month next year....I am applying for an artist retreat and if I get accepted, I would definitely pursue it.
I guess sometimes you have to get the freaks to appreciate a good one!
Well said; this sounds a lot like my current boss. The man is extremely bright and all about efficiency when at work, but he places his family first, and he has no issues if I ever need to work from home or take off early. When I told him I plan on going back to school part-time his response was "I'm jealous...which program?" Most bosses would freak when told that their subordinate wants to go back to school.

There is a fine line I do not cross - he is my boss, but, I view him as a friend and mentor more than anything. And you really do need to go through some freaks (or duds/frogs/insert any other name) to appreciate a good one.
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Old 08-27-2007, 02:15 PM   #27
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I had two bosses that I worked for over the years that at one point in my career I thought they were the best people ever to work for. One guy just let me do my job by telling me what he wanted to see happen and telling me to report back when it was done. The other was good at being a buffer between us and his boss who was a crazy man. Later in my career I would work for both men again, and at that time I thought both were terrible bosses. What had been their strengths became their weaknesses.

The first guy became the acting chief of police, and he really wanted the job permanently. The mayor would express his desire for an outcome, and then express how he thought that outcome should come about. The chief would go into a frenzy to make sure it happened exactly that way - even if it made no sense. The day he got his job I took over a division that previous administrations had allowed to wither on the vine and become totally ineffective. At almost the same time there were some tragic deaths that took place (and were all over the news for several days) that might not have happened had my division been doing its job in the years preceding.

The next morning he was at city hall getting his marching orders and a few hours later I was in his office. What I was told to do was a massive undertaking, but nearly identical to a program I had created years before. But the way I was told to carry out the job was wrong in a lot of ways. I thought I knew the man and how he worked from our previous experiences together, so I spoke the truth.

Chief, can we go back to the mayor with a counter proposal? I can make this happen, and I can do it more efficiently and effectively than what you're telling me to do. I think we should tell the man that we have a better way of doing this.
What I got was a cold hard stare - while everyone else at the table stayed silent - and then this reply:

Thank you for your contribution. Now, we'll move on to the other elements of the plan.
The other guy, the one that was a buffer between us and his bosses earlier in his career, he got promoted and I worked for him again later in our careers. It took a while to figure out what was happening, but he was not passing anything up or down the chain of command. His office became a black hole from which nothing ever escaped. That wasn't too bad when it was a case of something stupid coming down to us, but there were a lot of things we needed the higher ups to approve and fund.

Hey Captain, do you have any idea when the approval is going to come through for those cars I want to buy? The heat and a couple of wrecks have played havoc with my fleet and I've got detectives sitting around the office when they need to be on the street.

Oh yeah, I've got to get with Chief Jones on that. I'll get back to you.
His secretary finally let on that the boss's in-box was stuffed full and nothing ever went into the out-box. Eventually we started going straight to his boss for some things just to keep the place running. Somebody screwed up an promoted him again and he got the opportunity to be a roadblock for almost a thousand employees.

In my last year at work, a new chief was appointed and he figured out both men in short order. He got the mayor to offer his predecessor a job somewhere outside the PD, and Mr. Roadblock was encouraged to take retirement rather than face demotion.

I can't say that I've ever really clicked with a boss. One of my best bosses ever later became one of my best friends. But when we were working together we had quite a few occasions when we locked horns - and it got ugly a few times. Now that we don't work together we can laugh about it - he will admit in so many words that he is an "anal control freak" and I have come to admit that there were more than a few days when I decided to see how far I could go in breaking the rules.

But I think that may be the nature of the beast. There is a man who worked for me for two years who was absolutely worthless. When I finally became tired of trying to motivate him positively I called him in and I gave him thirty day to improve or find a new assignment. He hated me and I know he badmouthed me all over the office behind my back, but he went on to new adventures elsewhere. After I retired we were partnered up as cart partners in a charity golf tournament. I enjoyed the day immensely because the guy has a terrific sense of humor and we had a lot in common outside of the job. We had such a great time together that later he was telling people "man, me and Leonidas had a blast!" Some of the people he talked to told me about it later and said they asked him "I thought you couldn't stand that guy."

Oh yeah. As a boss I hated him - thought he was a total d!9k. But get him away from work and he's pretty cool.
He's one of my regular golf partners now.
There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is having lots to do and not doing it. - Andrew Jackson
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Old 08-28-2007, 09:25 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Pavo View Post
There is a fine line I do not cross - he is my boss, but, I view him as a friend and mentor more than anything.
I'm curious in this area... What does everyone think is within and out of bounds? You really have to trust your leader. Can you also have friendship with that? Or maybe it will be a case by case scenario.

I'm not sure how efficient one can be with an "enemy" as a boss, perhaps a "neutral" boss might be good, but if you are one's friend, then perhaps you will be more relaxed and efficient? But as long as you know they are your boss first and friend second in the office... OR maybe that last part is mutually exclusive.

I'd rather have more good friends than good bosses.
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Old 08-29-2007, 08:29 AM   #29
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I've gone through 4 bosses in 5 yrs with my company. Some were good, some terrible and the manager I currently work under is fantastic. It's amazing that a company like mine can get it wrong so many times before getting it right.
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Old 09-02-2007, 11:52 AM   #30
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First boss out of college was a nightmare. See "Have You Ever Been Fired" thread.

Since then, I've been a lucky guy. I've had good, understanding, and mostly competent bosses who leave me alone so long as good work gets done. Works for me!

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