Learning from Bad Leaders

Very early in my career I worked for a small company (several hundred employees) as a Credit Department representative.  I was on a team that supported our sales staff and worked with our customers to make sure their accounts remained current.  It wasn’t the most satisfying work for me, primarily because I always seemed to be in “worry mode” about who would pay their invoices, who was avoiding me, and what grief would I get from my sales reps when they learned I wouldn’t allow any more product to be shipped to their customers.  Candidly, I was a bad fit for the role.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
My reporting structure flowed up through a Manager and then to one of two brothers who owned the company.  He was a young, bright, and motivated man and I can honestly say I learned a lot from him.  Sadly, his example is on the “don’t do list.”  A brief illustration:
Although the failure rate among the businesses we sold to was incredibly high, our team maintained terrific metrics relative to past due monies.  However, when we met with the owner he would toss the A/R (accounts receivable) report across the conference room table as he sprinkled in a few f-bombs.  Not exactly a confidence-builder for anyone.
This scenario has stayed with me for years simply because I don’t ever want anyone that works for me to fear that I’m going to start tossing around paperwork and swearing at them.  I know the team I worked with came to dread the meetings with him because we didn’t know if he was going to attack us or not. 
How About You
Have you ever worked for someone who helped shape your leadership style because they were so awful?  It’s an odd way to think about leadership development; but for me it is a key part of my journey, and for that I have to thank him.   Can we learn from bad leaders?
I’d love to hear from you.
No Excuses.

pic courtesy of michaelhyatt