LinkedIn and the Art of Avoiding an Asshole Boss

LinkedIn_ Find References.jpg

Since blogging about Bob Sutton’s notorious book, The No Asshole Rule, I have received a constant flow of emails from readers sharing their own tales of lecherous bosses and indignities suffered.

Mean-spirited morons are still running much of the workplace, and it’s time to take a stand. Most nastiness is directed by superiors to subordinates; so before taking a job, do your homework and screen them out in advance. (After all, avoidance is the easier than curing.)

To do this, I propose that you check your prospective boss’s references just like she’s checking out yours. I’m not suggesting that you ask your prospective boss for a list of references (you can try, but it may mean you don’t get the job).

Instead, do a LinkedIn reference check. First, look her up to determine if you have any common connections. If so, find out more from people you trust. Second, use the LinkedIn reference check tool to find people who overlapped with her in the past.

The beauty of this tool is that she doesn’t even have to be a member of LinkedIn. You simply specify the company and years of employment for her, and LinkedIn will show you people in your network who worked at that company during the same time.

Once you’ve located folks to serve as a reference check, you need to know what to ask. This is where Badass Bob Sutton comes in. He prepared this list of questions for you.

  1. Kisses-up and kicks-down: “How does the prospective boss respond to feedback from people higher in rank and lower in rank?” “Can you provide examples from experience?” One characteristic of certified assholes is that they tend to demean those who are less powerful while brown-nosing their superiors.

  2. Can’t take it: “Does the prospective boss accept criticism or blame when the going gets tough?” Be wary of people who constantly dish out criticism but can’t take a healthy dose themselves.

  3. Short fuse: “In what situations have you seen the prospective boss lose his temper?” Sometimes anger is justified or even effective when used sparingly, but someone who “shoots-the-messenger” too often can breed a climate of fear in the workplace. Are co-workers scared of getting in an elevator with this person?

  4. Bad credit: “Which style best describes the prospective boss: gives out gratuitous credit, assigns credit where credit is due, or believes everyone should be their own champion?” This question opens the door to discuss whether or not someone tends to take a lot of credit while not recognizing the work of his or her team.

  5. Canker sore: “What do past collaborators say about working with the prospective boss?” Assholes usually have a history of infecting teams with nasty and dysfunctional conflict. The world seems willing to tolerate talented assholes, but that doesn’t mean you have to.

  6. Flamer: What kind of email sender is the prospective boss? Most assholes cannot contain themselves when it comes to email: flaming people, carbon-copying the world, blind carbon copying to cover his own buttocks. Email etiquette is a window into one’s soul.

  7. Downer: “What types of people find it difficult to work with the prospective boss? What type of people seem to work very well with the prospective boss?” Pay attention to responses that suggest “strong-willed” or “self-motivated” people tend to work best with the prospective boss because assholes tend to leave people around them feeling de-energized and deflated.

  8. Card shark: “Does the prospective boss share information for everyone’s benefit?” A tendency to hold cards close to one’s chest—i.e., a reluctance to share information—is a sign that this person treats co-workers as competitors who must be defeated so he or she can get ahead.

  9. Army of one: “Would people pick the prospective boss for their team?” Sometimes there is upside to having an asshole on your team, but that won’t matter if the coworkers refuse to work with that person. Use this question to help determine if the benefit of having the prospective boss on your team outweighs any asshole behaviors.

  10. Open architecture: “How would the prospective boss respond if a copy of The No Asshole Rule appeared on her desk?” Be careful if the answer is, “Duck!”

By | 2016-10-24T14:21:29+00:00 April 10th, 2007|Categories: Management|68 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. Shefaly April 9, 2007 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    Having worked for not one but two arseholes in my early career – one in my own company and one in a new company I joined – I swore never to work for a client who was one, when I went freelance. The interesting thing was that in one case, I had to see the boss in his ‘native’ environment to realise how abusive he was towards his wife and his subordinates, and then the wife in front of his subordinates. In both cases, everyone around secretly acknowledged the arseholage (!) of the person but never directly confronted it.
    I shall add these tests to my own home-grown list which, since those two arseholes, includes at least one social meeting i.e. coffee or a meal to determine if I will work with a person.

  2. Singapore Entrepreneurs ~ Venture Capital Funding in Singapore April 10, 2007 at 12:02 am - Reply

    Entrepreneur Reads for the Day: 10 April 2007

    Recommended Reads for the Day: Presentation Zen talks about why we should ditch powerpoint and Guy Kawasaki offer tips on how to avoid asshole bosses.

  3. Mike Johnston April 10, 2007 at 4:17 am - Reply

    Though I have been the arsehole in one instance, I look back on the experience and can easily see that the environment created by the ownership fostered this behavior.
    Don’t get me wrong, I would make no excuses for being my own “arse” but it can quickly and easily be transferred into the culture from the top down. This type of culture is not conducive to anything successful.
    The greatest career move I ever made was to get out of that environment!

  4. BizCoach April 10, 2007 at 5:56 am - Reply

    I think those questions are also useful when hiring someone for a management position. Assuming, of course, that they have management experience. I’m going to recommend them to my clients.

  5. Epic Living April 10, 2007 at 6:50 am - Reply

    The Game is Changing

    Guy Kawasaki gives us some innovative advice on getting a better handle our prospective managers/leaders. In his post on LinkedIn and the Art of Avoiding an Asshole Boss, Guy points us to a tool from LinkedIn. The game is changing.

  6. Henry Halff April 10, 2007 at 7:09 am - Reply

    I hate to say this, Guy, but as you continue this crusade, you’re beginning to sound more and more like a, well, like an asshole, yourself. The suggestion in this column, that you run an asshole background check on any potential boss strikes me as being more like a witch hunt than anything else. From all of your postings on the issue, I get the impression that your going-in position with respect to any boss is that she’s an asshole, and that kind of attitude is one that’s characteristic of assholes. Maybe you should turn yourself around and teach folks how to find great bosses.

  7. Matt Jones April 10, 2007 at 7:14 am - Reply

    It seems to me that the arseholes that invariably make it through the selection process are not subject to real vigourous vetting by reference, from their subordinates perspective. When hiring for managers or any supervisory role, I try to get names of reports or teams that may provide an objective view and solicit via telephone. It may not be ethical to go via unofficial channels but it may help avoiding a messy situation and the recruitment of a “toxic manager”.

  8. Lynn April 10, 2007 at 8:35 am - Reply

    Regarding item number 1. I’m paraphrasing here, but I seem to remember in one of your books a phrase along the lines of “it’s ok to suck up, as long as you don’t forget to suck across and suck down.” Words to live by, and I’ve tried to ever since my first read of that advice.

  9. Brian Thibault April 10, 2007 at 8:54 am - Reply

    This is exactly why you’re a sucker if you’re not the boss. Strive to be the boss or work for yourself.

  10. Paul Burnstein April 10, 2007 at 9:08 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing this. LinkedIn is becoming a strong resource as more and more people are joining and updating their information. It is great to see new ways of the using the information that is already there.

  11. Employees are Assholes April 10, 2007 at 9:55 am - Reply

    How about asshole employees???!!!!

  12. Jim Broiles April 10, 2007 at 11:55 am - Reply

    I’ve had difficult relationships with the boss, my piers and with subordinates. The first place to look is myself. Is there a conflict with the core values of the company or am I just feeling neglected somehow? Is it an ethics issue? Is it a conflict with my personal values?
    I don’t think you can realistically pick your boss unless you yourself are the boss. Even if you are your own boss you still have responsibility to your customers, your investors, your employees.
    The suggestion to do a reference check on your boss is rediculous and could be illegal depending on how you ask the questions. You can be certain that word will get back to your prospective boss. As a boss myself I would not hire someone who did a background check on me. It shows right off the bat they they are high maintenance and self serving.

  13. worth April 10, 2007 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    I just received my first LinkedIn request from someone reaching out to me this morning – made me feel good that I could reject this unknown requester’s invitation out of hand and crush his probably first baby steps towards reaching out across this cruel,expansive world to expand his fledgling personal network of strangers – nah, just kidding. I accepted his invite. And it was from someone at a company I only contracted at for a month or two. As an aside, Guy had a wish list of things to make blogs more friendly a while back, and one of them was the modification of the verification feature for posting comments where you type in the combination of letters/numbers; modification would be to make it accept a “close enough” combination as validation of your carbon-based life form status. I suffer through this every day, feeling like an archaeologist who’s just uncovered and is desperately attempting to decipher some barely legible trace of script that I can’t quite make out through all of the dirt and erosion what the symbols are trying to tell me. Luckily I usually get it right after several attempts (I suppose a better monitor would help with the contrast and brightness, as I don’t have as much of a problem on my home office monitor).

  14. etali April 10, 2007 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    Great tips. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve only ever had one terrible boss – in my case he came to the company after me, and was so universally hated he ended up getting demoted. Now *that* is a happy memory.
    I’m new to LinkedIn, but I’ve enjoyed reading about my colleagues and friends on there, and it does seem to reflect people accurately – a lot of the people I’ve went to give recommendations to have already got several positive references from others.

  15. fortyplustwo April 10, 2007 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    LinkedIn ReferenceSearch

    Linked in has launched a new function for Reference Search. Reference Search is useful when you need more information about potential employees, employers, and business partners. Just enter company names and the years the person worked at each company….

  16. Guy's Friend April 10, 2007 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Guy: This is priceless! I will go out and buy this book right away… I am dealing with a A**hole client Boss right now – who is a sheer definition of A************HOLE… The sad thing is that he is the President of a Fortune 50 company, he is a loser and still he is aroun… AMAZING HUH?

  17. Sunandwavs April 10, 2007 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Interesting rants. I sometimes wonder if A**E status should be more democratic??? For example, perhaps a boss is demanding? Perhaps even a perfectionist? Perhaps they are asking you to do something one way while you feel it should be done in another way? Perhaps they are under pressure or changing priorities from their superiors.
    Should all cases granted A**E status purely on the basis of a few people? I think not. How to proceed then? My vote is for an EBay like voting system. Instead of Buyer and Seller, perhaps the voting system can be oriented towards Reportee (sic) and Reportor (sic). Similar to EBay, a few skewed votes will not change the big score dramatically. Even more like EBay, each party is allowed to post one line rebuttals.
    Imagine now this score was available in LinkedIn. Imagine this score taking on the HR equivalence of FICO !!
    Just foo for tots

  18. [email protected] April 10, 2007 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    Preemtive management detox

    I recently posted a comment on Guy Kawasakis blog post about the ways you can use LinkedIn and other methods to effectively vet your bosses before taking a new job. Whilst I agree pretty much with his approach and have done this myself in the p…

  19. AMJ April 10, 2007 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Nice post. I have a tip for readers. During the last phase of the interview process, I ask these questions of my potential boss. I find that their answers can be helpful in order to screen out the assholes.
    1. How many people have you managed during your career?
    2. How many people have you promoted?
    3. How many people have you fired?
    4. How many people have quit?
    5. How many of your former direct reports do you stay in touch with?
    I find the answer to question 5 most telling. FYI – I still stay in touch with 95% of my former bosses. And the ones I don’t stay in touch with are the assholes. 😉

  20. Tathagata April 10, 2007 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    How about asshole “interviewers” who are up in the food chain think and judge candidates as assholes and tream em like they ain’t worth nothing.

  21. jelly April 10, 2007 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    Jim, you make a good point in your comment. The job market is competitive enough. If the job is the right fit are you going to step off because your boss is a potential asshole? Guess what, there are 10 other people behind you willing to take it. I’m not so sure there is an ideal boss situation out there. If so, I’ve never come across it. We all have to learn to work with different and difficult personalites – at least until we can reach self employment or the retirement train rolls in.

  22. hla April 10, 2007 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    I think it would be better if you stated: “…she/he is searching out your [references].” Besides, aren’t bossses, more often than not, male than female anyway?
    Thank you.

  23. Jackie April 10, 2007 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    There’s a little manifesto called Dear Bosses, that some could most certainly use to stop being assholes and make everyone’s life and work better. It’s relevant to this conversation for sure. Check the link.

  24. Tom April 10, 2007 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    One of the most useful blog posts I’ve read. Even if you don’t find out that your new boss (or peer) is an A*******E, you will certainly learn some useful information for either decision making or starting the new job.
    Good stuff.

  25. Kathie Thomas April 10, 2007 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    This could also be useful for checking out clients, especially if you have that gut feeling that not all might be right…

  26. Unknown Tech Guy April 10, 2007 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    This is great advice. Unfortunately, sometimes we still end up with an arse. If you need to get some steam off head over to boss

  27. Rahul Roy-Chowdhury April 10, 2007 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    Hmmm.. I’m not sure I agree with this approach Guy. First, you’re going to run into many cases of sour grapes (yes, you’re calling into your network, but still…). Second, it’s not clear to me whether the boss’s weaknesses are the biggest issue. If a guy is as much of an a**hole as they say and still manages to rise up the ranks, there is a more systemic problem at the company that *his* management have chosen to ignore or reward this behavior. It’s not an individual problem – is a cultural problem at the company. Everyone should absolutely do their due diligence – I just think keeping the focus so negative will not help achieve their goals.

  28. Iren April 10, 2007 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    I don’t see why should one shy away from doing a background check on their future boss. Afterall people are advised to learn as much as possible about the company before applying for a job. And Who you work with day in and day out can definitely put its mark on your performance.
    Job shortage? For heaven’s sake! Your job takes up at least 8 hours from your 24. That’s at least 1/3 of your daily life. Gotta bring home the bacon, and gotta have a roof over your head? Well, how about Quality of Life? I say, Dare doing that background check! Dare ask those questions. And weigh the odds carefully.

  29. Calvin April 10, 2007 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    This is a really good idea! Another new application for LInkedIn… hmmm… maybe we can do that with Friendster and do backgrounders on prospectives dates and spouses! 😀

  30. Joe Neitham April 10, 2007 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    Very good advice. Nothing worst than working for an a***hole boss who does not have even 5% contact with his ex-colleagues. I’ve experienced it personally and I truly does not wish to be in touch with you for whatever reason because he was a royal pain in the back.

  31. Joe April 11, 2007 at 6:04 am - Reply

    Check out Priceless!

  32. E.C. Hopkins April 11, 2007 at 7:49 am - Reply

    My test is much simpler. I ask the prospective boss whether he or she prefers Dostoevsky or Tolstoy. If the response is “I don’t like German food that much,” then that’s a really bad sign. If the response is “Who are they,” that too is a bad sign. If the response is “Dostoevsky,” then I might ask a few questions in order to determine the source of his or her error.
    On a less serious note: I have a question related to Bob Sutton’s 4. Bad Credit and 8. Card Shark; Henry Halff’s “teach folks how to find great bosses;” AMJ’s second recommended final phase question, “How many people have you promoted;” and Rahul Roy-Cowdhury’s “a cultural problem at the company.”
    First, a lengthy preamble. Failing to acknowledge others’ contributions is one thing; however, occasionally speaking highly of a subordinate’s talents and skills to higher-ranking decision makers is another. I’d like to believe great bosses are so talented (and enlightened) that they never really feel threatened by more talented subordinates. I’d like to believe a great boss would care enough about the company that he or she would speak highly of a superstar subordinate to higher-ranking decision makers, even if there were a small risk that by doing this the subordinate would leapfrog the boss. I’d like to believe the best entrepreneurs and company leaders would know how to find, hire, and keep great bosses who would speak highly to them of superstar subordinates, in spite of leapfrogging risks. (The only reason why I don’t already believe all the above is I just haven’t observed this stuff happening at a great company yet).
    Anyone have more questions a prospective employee might ask in order to better determine whether a prospective boss would be likely to speak highly of a superstar subordinate to the right company leaders at the right times, opening up valuable, merit-based leapfrogging opportunities for the subordinate (and the company)?
    I’m thinking questions like the following might work, but they seem too bold or slightly negative at first glance.
    1. How many of your former subordinates are still with the company?
    2. Do you work for or have you ever worked for one of your former subordinates?

  33. Anonymous April 11, 2007 at 9:47 am - Reply

    Checking up with former subordinates of a new manager is just good homework. Even if it just gives you insight into what makes the person tick, how to do well with the new boss,etc. Finally, *most* of the time you’re going to find that people are reluctant to say *anything*, but that if they do, it’s usually that the person was a human being. not evil, not a saint, made some mistakes and worked hard.
    In otherwords, the reference check usually only yields the *real* arses, not the run of the mill arses that are sadly prevalent in corporate life.

  34. Mike April 11, 2007 at 11:14 am - Reply

    Truly a cream puff subject. For his next feat, maybe the author can write about hating taxes.
    Favorite response though was this blogger’s, “My test is much simpler. I ask the prospective boss whether he or she prefers Dostoevsky or Tolstoy.” Yeah, that’s way simpler!
    I prefer Yankees or Red Sox? That’s a better barometer of how I’ll get along with my boss.

  35. Pip April 11, 2007 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    This line of questioning of a potential employer is not unethical or illegal — it’s brilliant and will save you and the company money, time, and heartache in the future, not to mention your family and friends the pain of dealing with a stressed-out, miserable version of you during the few hours each day you get to spend with them. You owe nothing to a future potential employer in the discovery phase of the hiring process — you should be personally responsible for practicing the same necessary due diligence that they have with you. And, with the impending talent crunch, especially at the mid-management level, you have a choice in who you work for…you don’t have to jump out of one frying pan into another anymore. Employers already know and feel this…they know that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers…and they’re probably spending more time (and money) trying to entice suitable talent to apply for jobs (or on turnover from uncultivated talent leaving) than they are on interviewing them and checking out their references. So, the ball is in your court.
    On the employer side, no company wants an a$$hole under its roof…the problem is that upper management is usually oblivious to them because the a$$hole ranges from being a fantastic manipulator to a borderline/bipolar/multiple personality…or upper management has fostered this kind of culture as acceptable because an a$$hole is lurking at the top. A$$holes prevent companies from attracting, keeping and developing the necessary talent for competing in a global economy…from delivering on corporate strategy and innovations that keep the bottom line up and Wall Street or their board of investors happy…from being a market leader with a culture that attracts white glove accounts, media and analyst interest, and landmark investment opportunities. The only thing a$$holes do attract are lawsuits from former subordinates who failed at working to their optimal performance level due to their harassing, threatening work environment.
    If you’re too busy focusing on working around your boss to get your job done and you often wonder if your skills are underdeveloped or are going to waste because you’re too busy playing nice to keep the peace with a borderline personality breathing down your back, then it’s time to move on. If you’re working for someone who is constantly demanding more and more of you, editing your work at a micro-management level, has a militant sense of playing by the rules and expects the same of you, you’re working for a hard-a$$, not an a$$hole, and someday, you might appreciate working for someone who had rockstar expectations of you. If you’re working for none of the above or are your own boss, then you’re a rare bird and should document your achievements and shop it around for a book deal.
    I’ve worked for all of the above, and the two a$$hole bosses I did have crippled me long after I quit working for them…it took me a while to get my moxy back because I learned to doubt myself under their rule, and unfortunately, I took that into new opportunities I encountered. However, I believe that personal success is the best revenge, and there’s no greater insult that you can inflict on an a$$hole than what they will ultimately with time bring upon themselves…the sad part is that you’ll be too busy achieving to witness their demise. For example, I missed seeing one of my former a$$hole bosses thrown out, as in her personal belongings were physically tossed out the door…and I realized (with an ear-to-ear grin) that I couldn’t have written her firing better myself.

  36. Tiffany Felicienne April 11, 2007 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    When I started reading this I thought you would provide tips for avoiding the A**hole Boss in the workplace. Sure, it would be ideal screen them out from the beginning but realistically, many people are willing to compromise to work at an organization they are excited about regardless of the manager… or you may inherit a manager once in the workplace… or you just may not be able to see the warning signs until it’s too late.
    So, I’d like to suggest some tips for avoiding the A**hole Boss you are stuck with:
    1) Listen to iPod incessantly on volume 9
    2) Encourage your co-workers to dramatize their work and personal challenges so they need to discuss their issues often with the Boss
    3) Refer all questions to the Boss (and any other busy work you can hand them – particularly work that may appear as adding to their higher status
    4) Sign up the Boss on lots of mailing lists/ spam websites
    5) Run errands for the Boss when errands take you out of the office for lengthy periods
    6) If you miss a deadline it’s because you have a really painful period (male Boss) or you are seeing a therapist about overbearing mother surrogates (female Boss)
    7) Cough, sweat and complain about Flu virus when the Boss gets within 5 feet
    8) Comment frequently that you are so successful and productive because your wonderful Boss gives you plenty of space to work independently
    9) Tell your Boss you are starting to have a crush on them and you think it must be mutual because they come to speak to you personally so often.
    Compare notes with your co-workers about the Boss. Don’t share any of your tips with them. They may think you are the most talented member of the team since you get the least flack from the Boss.

  37. Stuck April 11, 2007 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    I like the article and I will certainly go look for the book.
    Now this is great information but what if your interview involved overseas bosses who interviewed you and you did a check on the bosses, they turned out OK. But these guys went and hired a local a**hole boss that we should report to? We turned up on the first day and the a**hole boss is there. Now, what can one do about it?

  38. Jan April 11, 2007 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    This is “deep” — I am blunt 🙂 If the housekeeping staff run from visitors’ — one most likely should do the same. On-the-other-hand, housekeepers that smile and look visitors directly in the eye [as if they anticipate a question from the visitor] the ambiance of the firm is a decent place to work as well as conduct business!

  39. Jan April 11, 2007 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    I can not resist!
    My last annual evaluator [stupidvisor] was terminated 16 months after I resigned [December 2004]. I had visited the Tuesday prior to the stupivisor’s termination [Thursday-April 2006]. Two months after I resigned, I created my own employment; six months after my resignation, I resumed studies in a master program and by the end of the Fall [2007], I will graduate {Master Accountant Financial Analyst}
    I still occasionally visit my former place of employment to visit and still meet ex-coworkers that either didn’t know I had resigned or greet me as if I have returned to work.
    That “A$$hole Boss” helped me more than harmed me. I would consider hiring the former stupivisor for they were good at running-off talent and maintaining an excellent network “slackers”. ** As a policy, I would encourage exit interviews and offer the resigning employee the position of supervising the “stupidvisor” 🙂
    After the stupidvisor was terminated, their main slacker resigned, due to lack of knowledge for the propped position.

  40. Jenny Lingmark April 11, 2007 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    Guy! – Excellent text!

  41. [tokidoki]... April 12, 2007 at 2:23 am - Reply

    Just hilarious!

    Il buon Guy Kawasaki e il suo articolo: Art of Avoiding an Asshole Boss vero vangelo! Non ha niente a che fare con il Giappone (a parte il cognome del nostro ex Apple Evangelist).

  42. El Blog Salmón April 12, 2007 at 2:56 am - Reply

    Diez preguntas a tu posible futuro jefe

    Hace unos días hablamos de la necesidad de entrevistar a la empresa al mismo tiempo que te está entrevistando para un nuevo trabajo.
    Cuando estás buscando trabajo, quízás la entrevista más importante es la que se debe hacer a tu posible jefe. Pro…

  43. Jen April 12, 2007 at 7:14 am - Reply

    Besides answers to the excellent questions, get a war story or two. Sometimes the stories are more telling; the answers to the questions may be nicened up, but nobody forgets the boss who demands you back at your desk at 8 am after you worked till 4 am restoring from a hardware crash.

  44. PC-VIP April 12, 2007 at 7:59 am - Reply

    As usual, Guy has ideas worth hearing. This one’s a GEM. Thanks, Guy.
    Jeff Yablon
    President & CEO

  45. Virtual Assistant April 12, 2007 at 11:15 am - Reply

    Guy, you so crack me up. I love your plain-speaking. Your advice applies to screening clients as well. Life and business is so much nicer, and much less soul and energy draining, when you work with those who are a fit. I’ll leave the jerks, a-holes and morons to give themselves and each other ulcers instead of giving me one, thank you very much.

  46. RamaK April 12, 2007 at 11:54 am - Reply

    Wow, what a good article. When they have a change to check about subordinates, at the same time subordinates should have same freedom. Unfortunately till now this is not taken place, from now every one should have equal rights. Most of the time, Bosses are real AssHoles. This article is really helpful. Hope we will share more info like. Please keep it up guys.
    Rama K

  47. Brad Hutchings April 12, 2007 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    It seems like there’s a market opportunity for some company to offer pre-employment background checks of companies for prospective employees. Particular people (bosses) would only be part of it. Gathering and explaining available financial data would be part too. If a company is being funded week to week by a VC who has serious public financial issues, wouldn’t it be good as a prospective employee to know that when the company is telling you they want to go public within the next year? Or if the company doesn’t have hourly workers and still has multiple employee complaints with the labor board, shouldn’t that be part of wage negotiation (or just a red flag)?
    Time for this service is about 3 years out. Employees are cynical and choosey now, but not quite enough. I still have to convince many friends to spend $300 on lawyer time to review and explain employment contracts to them before they sign, particularly all the parts that are at best questionably enforceable (e.g. uncompensated non-competes).

  48. Harry April 12, 2007 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    “Most assholes cannot contain themselves when it comes to email…”
    I laughed good and I laughed hard.

  49. Jerome Alexander April 12, 2007 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Until real leaders return to the top spots in the world of business, these creeps will continue to perpetuate down through the ranks.
    No one is watching the store anymore. All they see is the cash register.
    I have only seen it getting worse over the past twenty years. All I can do is write about it.

  50. EQ4PM April 12, 2007 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    Check Your New Bosses EQ BEFORE You Sign On

    I read an interesting post by Guy Kawasaki about using LinkedIn technology and good old fashioned networking to check out the emotional intelligence of a prospective manager. What a smart idea, I mean, who wants to unknowingly get stuck working

  51. Todd April 12, 2007 at 11:01 pm - Reply

    Checking references on your boss is just as important as a boss checking references on you. Nobody wants to work with an asshole.

  52. MailMaster C. April 13, 2007 at 5:45 am - Reply

    Hi Guy, I checked the linkedln site, and I surprisingly find my boss there. I said surprisingly, because we work in an Italian company… a big one, but still Italian. Anyway, I just wanted to check out his information, but I first had to register, and the registration was a bit more complicated than other websites, then I discovered that in order to read some useful information I have to upgrade to the business account.
    It’s a pity, another missed opportunity. It seems a bit strange to me that you didn’t point out this “feature”. You usually are very careful about that.
    Thanks at any rate for your posting.
    MailMaster C.

  53. Eric April 13, 2007 at 6:58 am - Reply

    Can I related? Sure. Who can’t? Anyone who has been working has come across micromanagers and insecure leaders. It’s always good to find resources for dealing with them or just avoiding them altogether.
    Another good book is, My Way Or The Highway, by Harry Chambers.
    Thanks, Guy.

  54. Terry Rayburn April 13, 2007 at 7:04 am - Reply

    The best solution? Be self-employed. It’s wonderful to be your own boss (unless you are the a-hole, of course).

  55. Joe Smith April 13, 2007 at 9:36 am - Reply

    there’s a simpler solution:
    don’t use LinkedIn.
    i’m confused by friends frantically attempting to a)chase “social networking” tools then b)frantially trying to “manage” all the information and impressions that result.
    disconnect. leave most all of it alone. in the big picture, none of this stuff is worth your precious life energy.
    unless your life is about how to make money, create money, generate money, collect money.

  56. Gal josefsberg April 13, 2007 at 11:53 am - Reply

    The only problem with LinkedIn is possible bias. You never know if the person you’re talking to is being honest. Perhaps they’re the asshole and they hold a grudge against their old boss.
    I’d much rather trust the opinion of people I know personally. If that kind of information, I’ll form my own opinion through interviews. I find that prospective employers never mind questions about management style as long as they’re not presented along the lines of “are you a jerk?”

  57. Pradero Net April 13, 2007 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    Muy bueno, muy interesante. Gracias.
    Very nice, thank´s.
    Saludos desde Argentina.
    Greating´s from Argentina.

  58. Dom Pannell's Blog April 14, 2007 at 2:32 am - Reply

    Kawasaki does it again

    He hardly needs promoting as his blog has consistently been one of the world’s most widely read since its launch a couple of years ago (if memory serves me right), but Gary Kawasaki keeps coming up with great content. This…

  59. sonshi April 14, 2007 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    Is this just a function of the person and not so much the businessperson? What we learned we learned in kindergarten as they say: play nice, say please, and share. Afternoon naps are good as well.

  60. Matt McGill April 14, 2007 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Years ago I attended a seminar by Tom Peters (he spits when he gets excited, so don’t sit in the front row!). One of the things he said was (very roughly translated), “if you hate your job, or your boss is an asshole, quit and take another job, even if it means giving yourself a demotion. You’ll end up much better off in the long run”. I thought that was silly at the time but, then again, I had a great job and a non-asshole boss. Later in my career, I ended up with the asshole of all asshole bosses (the CEO). Instead of putting up with the abuse, I quit the job and took a job with a lesser title with significantly less pay. It turns out that Tom was right, because my professional life is great now. The moral of the story is, man (or woman) up. Don’t put up with crap from asshole bosses!

  61. HDR April 15, 2007 at 4:51 am - Reply

    You inspire me to be a leader above those who surround me, and for that I thank you.

  62. April 15, 2007 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Las redes sociales y el arte de evitar un mal jefe [eng]

    Las redes sociales ofrecen una oportunidad dorada de poner a prueba la reputación del futuro jefe. Investigando en ellas se puede y debe preguntar sobre él a personas que aparecen en su red de contactos o que han trabajado para la misma empresa. Sus re…

  63. Koshy Samuel April 15, 2007 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    Take Control of your life and do what you think is right for you. This means be passionate and thoroughly enjoy what you do at work or outside.
    Remember life comes only once and make the best use of it.
    If I comes across a asshole boss I will try my best to accommodate but when it reaches my limits then I give up and move out for something better.
    Assholes are everywhere be it in companies, friends or your own people sometimes.

  64. X April 17, 2007 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    Being a Chinese by blood, I am not proud to tell everyone about my last year’s experience in China, but the fact is: the managers in this country are more concerned about their individual well being than the “big picture” of the company. One particular manager excels in meeting all the “10 requirements” of an A.H. boss with flying colors, so to speak!
    I can only hope that this does not apply to the whole of China 🙂
    May the force (or whatever religion) be with you! Cheers!

  65. LA April 18, 2007 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Sensational! No, wait, sensationalist! Maybe the sequel can be something like “The Toxic Toad, aka Employees Who Suck.”
    It’s true… Some bosses are assholes. Of course, some people are assholes too, so odds work out about even for bosses and employees.
    But, most folks work hard, care about what they do, and care about the people they work for, and with, and who work for them. For every asshole boss story, there are at least that many about men and women that might be considered both capable and honest, if not downright giving.
    Toxicity is attention-grabbing, but not necessarily wholly beneficial. I’d love to see you, the guy we all love to trust, present something soon to balance this negative energy…

  66. Scott April 27, 2007 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Working with assholes (or for them) drains the life out of you. The office always seems to be in a joyous state the entire time they are sick, on vacation or a business trip. Why do we let them have this power over us? Why is it not so easy to go out and just say “I quit”?
    I don’t know…
    Scott –

  67. Juan José Lizama Ovalle May 3, 2007 at 4:12 pm - Reply

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    There, you can see the next big Enterprise of Technologies Web to Conversation Management… If you don’t Know Metrik… you are losing a lot each day!
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  68. helen July 2, 2015 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    “One characteristic of certified assholes is that they tend to demean those who are less powerful while brown-nosing their superiors.”

    I have been working for more than 25 years now and the large majority of people I worked with or shared offices with were brown nosing their superiors. It even seem to have become a rule in the last 5 years.
    Actually flattering, licking arses, boot licking, in my experience has been the main way to promotion for my colleagues, peers and co workers.

    I have been working mainly for big U.S Corporations and in sales and HR. Does that mean that sales and HR people are assholes (well everybody knows that most are) and big US corporations prefer assholes?

    I’d say yes and yes. The corporate world in general is manufacturing the heinous mentalities described in so many articles and books.

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