Bosses Who Know Nothing About Leadership

Lindsey Novak on

Q: I was hired for my expertise in a particular field. Within the first month, one of the leads (who knew nothing about the field in which I specialized) started telling me how to do the very work that was my focus area. She repeatedly changed everything I turned into her. Because I was new, I said nothing and politely reworked whatever part of the project she wanted redone. She then rejected every redone part of the project. The problem was that she was not only unskilled and untrained in my specialty but also implemented changes that were unprofessional and wrong. Each change she made was at the level of a novice. I wanted to tell everyone in the department that the finished product was not mine because I did not want people to think my work product could be that horrible.

Her work product was so poorly done I couldn't take it anymore. I began trying to explain to her why her work was not properly done. I was never openly rude the way she was, but I had felt compelled to take action because I did not want anyone to think I produced such below-standard work.

Her colleagues treated her like a prima donna, and nobody, not even her equals, would say anything to her. I could never figure out why but assumed it was because she would become vehemently defensive, as she was to me. I was miserable in the position, so I decided to politely resign, saying I was going to take time to do other things. I did not want a recommendation from such a person and had no plans of adding that two-month experience to my resume. To put it bluntly, she and the management behaved unprofessionally. I am going to start another job search.

Since I was there for such a brief amount of time, is it OK to have a time gap (I don't know how long it will take to find another position), or should I extend the time worked in my job previous to that one?

A: If you had to put together a resume from past memories, leave off months, and use only years -- but never intentionally stretch employment dates to cover time gaps. People have time gaps in resumes for all sorts of reasons -- becoming a stay-at-home parent, taking care of elderly parents or grandparents, recovering from illnesses or major accidents, returning to continue a formal education, or taking a sabbatical for whatever reason. You do not have to list explanations on your resume, as the information is likely to be private and personal.

If you ever take a lengthy amount of time off to be a full-time parent or familial caretaker, briefly explain it in a cover letter. You may be faced with certain companies ignoring cover letters (it depends on the level of the position for which you apply), but if a company rules out resumes with time gaps or too few keywords, this may be just the type of company you will not want to work for.


Despite a company's size, companies do exist with more humanistic-based values. Make a list of features and benefits that are meaningful and align with your values. Accept all interviews, and don't prejudge what you don't yet know. Focus on what you want in a company, in a job and in a boss when you interview with a manager or HR representative. Ask pertinent questions that will net enough information for you to make an educated decision on whether this company will be right for you.

The workplace is competitive, so be careful to not cross the line into one who seems "entitled" or a prima donna. Now that you have experienced a boss who knew nothing about leadership, you will hopefully recognize such traits in those who interview you. Remember, the company has chosen certain types to handle the process, so those are the personality types you can expect once you are on the job.


Email career and life coach: with your workplace problems and issues. Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit, and for past columns, see




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