Just One Thing-A Lousy Boss is No Excuse to Let the Fires Burn

Image of an elevator button with the number 1 and the braile equivalent

Just One Thing

Overheard in an Office Near You:

First person: “Hey, the trash can is on fire.”

Second person: “Yep, that looks bad. It could spread.”

Third person: “Someone should put that fire out.”

First person: “I told them not to put the trash can over there. I saw this coming.”

Second person: “I wasn’t invited to the meeting…not sure who made that decision, but they should be fired.”

Third person: “Clearly someone screwed up.”

First person: “Well, I’ve got to get back to work. Hope that fire burns out.”

Second person: “I’m late for a meeting. Let me know if we need to evacuate.”

Third person: “Wonder if we should call someone.”

Chances are that no one would truly ignore the fire in the trash can, however, some organizations seem to perpetuate a culture that generates talk and hand wringing and teeth gnashing on issues, but little constructive action.

Poor senior leadership is always the root cause, and while most of us can’t impact a change at that level, we can rally our troops to build a bucket brigade and solve most of those flare-ups without asking permission.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Don’t let a lousy senior leader stifle your propensity to act. While you might take some heat  for your initiative, it’s better than the heat from 1,000 little fires slowly baking you and your team to a point of indecision and inactivity. And while you’re at it, don’t spend much time working for a boss like that if you can help it.


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By |2016-10-22T17:11:25+00:00October 19th, 2012|Career, Decision-Making, Just One Thing, Leadership|2 Comments

About the Author:

Art Petty is a coach, speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.


  1. Bret Simmons October 22, 2012 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    Great advice, Art. If we let lousy bosses be an excuse, we’d never get anything done. Thanks! Bret

    • Art Petty October 23, 2012 at 7:28 am - Reply

      Thanks, Bret! (Great to see you here as well!) -Art

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