In a world of misbehaving bosses, you can be a shining light in the workplace

From the massive abrupt firing of “Chief Twit” Elon Musk and the subsequent reinstatement of many Twitter employees, to the insults, innuendo and ignorance of former Supreme Commander and persistent vote-buckler Donald Trump en route to the midterm elections, we’re filled with stories of bad behavior bombed by bosses.

Of course, bad bosses are nothing new. You can go back and read Machiavelli’s 16th century treatise, The prince or hit play and binge Jennifer Aniston’s newer (awful) Terrible bosses movies. Or maybe you can recall a managerial unmannered moment in your own employment history (hopefully not in your current situation).

During my time at CNN, thousands were laid off in a single day in 2001, which is still considered one of the worst mergers in modern business history, when AOL took over Time Warner. It was like an assembly line. People were told to report to HR, gave a letter saying “You are no longer needed” and then provided tissues to dry their eyes and a box to collect their belongings. When they returned to their desks, their computer logins stopped working.

Luckily, I managed to survive that day, and I remember reminiscing a few years later over a few beers at the Denver Press Club with a former CNN colleague, Joey Bunch, who also worked there at the time.

I didn’t know him at the time because I was on the editorial board and he worked as a speechwriter for the top executives. He informed me that he was the guy who had been tasked with preparing the dreaded severance letter that many of our colleagues had received.

As it turns out, he was also handed the same letter, ending his CNN service with an ironic jolt. Ouch.

The stories go on and on. So, dear readers, until there are no more bad bosses, here are the reminders on how each of us can strive to behave better.

Inspire you to reach higher

Creating an environment that makes demands is not just the responsibility of the upper management team. Whether you hold an official leadership role or not, information can still inspire you. It’s the difference between stating the simple fact or deciding to add an element of “what’s in it for the audience in an ambitious way”.

For example, I had a client who wanted to make company uniforms mandatory. He might say, “You have to wear the uniforms.” Short, direct, and command and control. Or he could add a more inspirational and empathetic argument as to why and how this can strengthen a sense of belonging and community.

When you help others understand how opinions, observations, and suggestions can help them, you behave better and aim to inspire, not just inform.

Recognize and reward

When you acknowledge the seemingly smallest thing, it can mean a lot to someone else. Don’t wait for an annual review or project meeting. Kind words and praise are not a substitute for raises and bonuses, they are complements. Be generous and sincere.

Defend yourself if necessary

Don’t be a spectator, be an insurgent. When a colleague is wrongly thrown under the bus and you know it, be bold and try to add real-time context or perspective. If you’re afraid to defend yourself publicly, do so in private. But do it. Bosses that rely on divide and conquer rely on you not to defend themselves. You can help break this cycle.

forgive mistakes

When someone makes an honest mistake, blaming them is often better than holding them accountable. This means that instead of dishing out a punishment, you can work with them to come up with an innovative solution. Use failure as a mentoring opportunity to help others grow.

openness with compassion

If you face a difficult conversation or, as Meta first announced last week, enforce layoffs, the more advance notice and due diligence you can provide, the more positive your legacy will remain.

Lead by example

The golden rule of treating others as you would like to be treated is as true today as it was when it was first coined thousands of years ago. Scholars trace its variations back to ancient Egypt and subsequently in the teachings of all major religions and notable philosophers from Confucius to Socrates.

Although it may seem cliche and overly simple after all this time, concepts that present themselves as simple are not always easy to implement consistently. My hope is that if we purposefully build ourselves with an empathic foundation now, it will carry us in strength and kind determination throughout our careers.


To the incredible and inspiring finalists applying for the 2022 International Children’s Peace Prize. While you are reading this column I will be traveling to Amsterdam where I will be hosting this year’s awards event on Monday. It’s my second time having the honor of sharing the stage with extraordinary young leaders who are committed to making a positive difference in the world. And in this time of uncertainty, when the Collins Dictionary has named “permacrisis” its word of the year, it’s always important to shine a spotlight on her important stories of hope.

Write to Gina in nursing

With corporate clients on five continents, Gina London is a leading expert in communications strategy, structure and execution. She is also a media analyst, author, speaker and former CNN anchor.
@TheGinaLondon In a world of misbehaving bosses, you can be a shining light in the workplace

Fry Electronics Team

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