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Fictional Bosses

I love reading the old Dilbert cartoons. I think the US version of The Office is hysterical. All the characters were funny, but the bumbling portrayals of managers is key to their success. Unfortunately, I think today's portrayal of bosses has done some severe damage to the profession.

I think back to entertainment I watched when I was younger, and there was no shortage of bad bosses, but even the bad ones were often portrayed as having positive intent. Think of Lt. Col Blake and Col Potter from MASH. Two different people - one not wanting to be a leader and one who was a great leader - but both well intentioned.

At some point, it changed to where the bosses were incompetent or full of bad intentions. We have Michael Scott of The Office, who was certainly well intentioned, but incompetent beyond belief. There is Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. Smarmy and always making too many unreasonable requests. There is the Pointy-Haired Boss from Dilbert, who was a comical version of incompetent and bad intentioned.

The fact is that media bosses don't reflect real life bosses. But there are valuable lessons that can be learned. The bad bosses over-manage and try to control. They don't listen, don't develop, and don't help the team succeed. They act like everyone is there to serve them, when the reality is that the boss is there to serve the team.

It's also given workers an overinflated sense of their abilities. If you have a bad boss, you can't succeed around him. You often can't save the boss from themselves, like they do in the media. You certainly can't live without them - managers are necessary and will only get more so in the coming years.

Who are the great or horrible TV or movie managers you remember?

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