Chapter 11

Lead Well, Be Well

Leadership Behaviors Influence Employee Wellbeing

Jennifer Robertson

Western University, Canada

Julian Barling

Queen's University, Canada


The notion that a bad boss can cause undue stress is not new. Indeed, millions of workers come home from work each day and complain to their families and friends about their dreaded boss. Comments such as “My boss is driving me crazy” and “My boss will drive me to drink” are legendary, as bad bosses and their negative effects are commonplace. The ubiquity of bad bosses is frequently reflected in North American popular culture. Starting in the 1990s, for example, Scott Adams' satiric cartoon strip “Dilbert” parodied the effects of bad leadership, and became widely popular. More recently, TV shows and movies, such as The Office and Horrible Bosses, have been very well received. Similarly, there has been a tremendous focus on poor management within the professional world, such that a plethora of mainstream books have surfaced. Titles such as A survival guide for working with bad bosses: Dealing with bullies, idiots, back-stabbers, and other managers from hell (Scott, 2006) and Robert Sutton's (2007) popular The no asshole rule: Building a civilized workplace and surviving one that isn't eloquently make the point.

As the attention paid to bad bosses has increased, so too has the availability of resources to cope with the negative effects of poor leadership. Typing “coping with a bad boss” into ...

Get Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume III, Work and Wellbeing now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.