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“A man’s spirit is free, but his pride binds him with chains of suffocation in a prison of his own insecurities” 
― Jeremy Aldana

When a spouse or parent wants to rule everything you do at home, we call them a controller.  When a boss does the same thing at work, we call them a micro-manager. The bottom line is a dysfunctional person will be a dysfunctional boss. Why is it that so many leadership experts fail to discuss the psychology of management? If we were able to find out why our leaders are so unhappy and insecure, we might have some grace (or not) for them being such horrible bosses. 

Let me preface the rest of this article by saying I am not a psychologist. Just like you, I am a student of human nature based on my years of observing some really nice as well as knucklehead behaviors over the years. Ok, so I did spend a few years as an LAPD Peer Counselor and Chaplain in my time on the job. Several college level psychology classes and I’ve studied domestic violence and manipulating/controlling behavior for many years. Blah, blah, blah. 

Here’s the problem – how many bosses, even those you have become friends with, have ever walked up to you and said, “Hey, this is a little embarrassing, but I want you to know where I’m coming from as far as how I manage people. My mother was domineering and abandoned me, my dad was an alcoholic who abused me, I was bullied in school, and I have a really low self-esteem because I don’t feel attractive. So, the way I lead is by being a bully, controlling everything you do, and I want you to like me even when I act out with childish behaviors based on the way I grew up. I will use my controlling behavior to make me feel secure about myself even though some decisions I make will be viewed as idiotic. Also, I’ll probably have favorite employees based on how they make me feel. I say that in advance if I promote people who really don’t deserve it instead of promoting you.” Never had that conversation before? Of course not. However, wouldn’t it be great if we knew why some leaders just don’t make a lot of people based decisions and come across as horrible bosses? Wouldn’t it be greater if our terrible leaders knew that they were bringing their insecure and controlling behaviors into the work place? 

There’s not enough room on this blog to get into a deep discussion on the issues I raised here. However, we all know it’s a true statement that dysfunctional people make dysfunctional bosses. I don’t need a college degree to be certain of that. Maybe someone of influence will open up a discussion on this one day.

Here’s what good leaders can do to better themselves and become more effective:

- Take a journey into yourself to find out who you are inside. It may not be something you want to do, but it could very well make you a beloved family person and leader. This is a good thing.

- Be brave and ask some of the people who work for you if you’ve ever been viewed as a jerk. I know, strong words, but do we really need to be so politically correct 24 hours per day? If your wish is to serve people, then you won’t be afraid of the answers. Some employees will hesitate or lie to you or say nothing. That probably means you’ve been the bad boss.

- Give yourself a break if you end up not liking yourself very much. We are all somewhat off-center in one way or another. If we weren’t then everyone we meet would just love us! 

Great leaders know who they are and want to feel comfortable in their own skin. A really awesome person I know once said to me, “It is what it is.” Let’s take that one step further and say, “I see what it can be.” After all, great leaders are visionary’s.

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