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Why a tough manager is good for you?

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By PAYAL CHANANIA: Topping the list of tough bosses was Apple’s legendary founder, Steve Jobs, who was never an easy person to work with even on his best days! William Simon, co-author of iCon: Steve Jobs, the Greatest Second Act in the History of Business, writes, “Jobs demanded so much from the people who worked for him. That was part of his greatness. But he drove people too hard… being gentle and polite was not part of his demeanour.” So much so that, in 1993 he even made it to Fortune's list of ‘America's Toughest Bosses’.

Such hard taskmasters set high standards and insist that employees meet them at any cost. They keep pushing everyone to work harder and harder and always do better and better. Ruled by an uncompromising and inflexible attitude, they are downright impossible to please.

Everything is always expected right now and you can never expect them to cut you some slack.

Subordinates shudder at the mention of the tough boss and rue their fate for being burdened with such an insufferable tyrant and bully.

A good fortune in disguise

What if someone told you that the blunt, impatient and callous behaviour that is making your life miserable is for your own good! Yes, those seemingly unreasonable demands that exasperate you no end are what will benefit you greatly in the long run. So, before you pray to get such a boss off your back, ponder this… Tough bosses recognise the potential in their employees and then put them to the test in such a way as to stretch their limits as much as possible.

They challenge you to do better and expect you to succeed despite the odds. The ruthless demands and rigorous schedules are designed to hone your strengths and improve your weaknesses.

Once you take the plunge, you will be surprised what you can achieve, something often beyond your wildest expectations!

Working under an exacting manager is difficult, but it can teach you a lot – you increase your competence and professionalism, learn new skills and also advance higher up the career ladder. It can be a fine coaching experience if you handle it right.

As a career guide advises, “A demanding boss can challenge you to do more and perform at a higher level than you thought possible.

He can bring out your best, boost your experience and pave the way for future advancement and opportunity.” After all, no one can deny that Steve Jobs had a track record of bringing out the very best in the people who worked for him - more than they knew they had in them. And most of them went on to rise to great levels in their professional careers.

Make the most of the learning experience

Don’t try to avoid a demanding boss or lose your cool at the incessant pressure. Keep in mind that he is confident of your capabilities, trusts you to work hard and has your best interests at heart.

By pushing hard, he is goading you to call on your full capacities, raise your learning curve and step up to the plate to deliver consistently outstanding results. You will definitely become more productive and realise your true potential.

Don’t take the obnoxious abrasiveness personally and allow it to affect your self-worth. Don’t shy away from the challenging demands; they are cloaked opportunities to help you surpass what you think you can do. Conquer your nervousness and stop getting lost in the minor details. Listen carefully as the manager addresses your performance issues and clearly understand what he expects from you.

Trust him to give you a lucid picture of where exactly you stand and where you need to improve. But remember, the reward for good work will always be still more challenging!

Get the tough boss to establish clear, concrete goals and be ready to meet the challenges.

If you really feel something is unreasonable, he will be open to differing opinions, ideas, complaints or concerns.

Tough bosses appreciate openness as long as employees come armed with realistic suggestions and alternative ideas to fix the problems rather than simply stating that the work is impossible!

A word of caution: Taxing bosses can often cross the thin line into bullying and harassment.

You don’t have to accept inconsistent, unfair, abusive, derogatory, humiliating or manipulative behaviour from anybody.

A good tough manager is one who will never let you feel belittled or abused. He is a direct, consistent and reliable leader who does not shy away from walking the talk and ready to help when needed. He will promote, support and stand by you, albeit in a roundabout fashion.

To sum up, good managers are hard to find. It is your good fortune to have a tough one and making the most of it will serve you well.

Don’t hold a grudge as you will realise his value as the best boss in hindsight after you shine bright beyond your wildest imagination.

The pride and satisfaction you gain in bettering your best is unparalleled.

Meanwhile, be prepared for an exhausting but exhilarating ride of your life!

Payal Chanania,



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