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How to Tell if a Business Owner is Crazy (or couldn't care less about what you think)...

And when I say "business owner", I mean "OWNER".  Someone who owns 100% of the enterprise.  The man. Or woman, as applicable.  I got a call today from a person I interviewed two years ago, and she asked me my advice for dealing with some crazy behavior from the sole owner of a company she's employed by.

How do you tell if a business owner is crazy?  Simple.  Watch how they deal with people issues in thePointy hair boss organization they've built. 

The good ones still deal with people issues according to GAPP (not the accounting version, but "Generally Accepted People Practices").  You expect people to deal with other people a certain way.  With respect, dignity and a hat tip to how that person might feel after you deliver tough news to them.  The business owners who don't feel they transcend the world around them still treat people like the world expects them to.  Whatever the influence (good parents? A cosmic sense of how fortunate they are?  A sense of responsibility?), the good owners get it.  And it shows.

The crazy business owners?  They do unto others any way they feel like because they can, and it shows in how they deal with the people issues in their organizations.  Erratic behavior.  Public firings.  Acting like the king/queen and doing what they want, regardless of the opinions around them (by the way, the opinions are generally offered up less and less as they show they'll do what they want anyway.)

Want examples?  George Steinbrenner in his prime.  Paul Allen today

Of course, they're likely the owner because they've been successful for years before they've reached this point.  But, in many cases, positive talent practices were part of the success on their way up.  Then, having reached the pinnacle, something changed, and they stopped caring and generally giving a S#$* what other people think.

When you see it, run.  You're just wasting time you don't have if you don't.



Your Paul Allen link didn't work.

I've worked for the crazy business owners. Never, never again. They may be mildly successful, but unless they have the most unique product or customer base, the crazy holds them back from reaching any sort of giant heights.

Running was the best thing that ever happened to me.


Crazy bosses can be motivational in an odd sort of way. Years ago I had a business owner/boss tell me that I'd be "barefoot and pregnant and never amount to anything the rest of my life" because he was mad when I got pregnant. Every day he'd come in the office and say, "Are you STILL pregnant?" I left and a few years later opened my own thriving HR communications business...right around the corner from his office.

Lance Haun


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