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How to Work for an Idiot

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How to Work for an Idiot

Survive & Thrive...Without Killing Your Boss

Career Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

To cope with an Idiot Boss, just agree, appease, support, praise and share credit, right up ‘til the day you walk out.

Editorial Rating



  • Well Structured
  • Engaging


John Hoover, an organizational leadership consultant, discusses how to deal with an "Idiot Boss" - or I-Boss - who does stupid things. Hoover distinguishes idiots from other tricky bosses, including those who think they are God, or who are paranoid, sadistic or Machiavellian. He leaves the reader with a couple of issues. First, you’ll think no good, caring bosses still exist. Second, he doesn’t tell you clearly where to set boundaries or when enough is finally enough. He often advocates appeasing bad bosses, although his other counsel on how to deal with them has some effective pointers. To his credit, Hoover is very candid about how he has learned from experience, including his mistakes. He offers personal examples from his experiences at Disney and elsewhere, and tries to write in a light-hearted or whimsical vein. finds the book strongest when it is strategic and weakest when it tries to be funny, given that with bad bosses you only laugh to keep from crying.


Being the Idiot Boss

It is easy to become an Idiot Boss without realizing it; even author John Hoover used to be was one. The problem is that Idiot Bosses - or I-Bosses - are commonly clueless. They don’t understand what they are doing that is idiotic.

To avoid being upset by an I-Boss, take control of your own reactions. That will work better than trying to stop the I-Boss from infuriating you. If you can control or "disarm" the triggers that set you off, you will feel less aggravated and annoyed. Once you reduce your boss’s ability to upset you, you also will feel more empowered and better able to take other steps to create a better relationship, even if you are supervised by a genuine fool.

First, do what you can to support your I-Boss, especially when he or she feels uncertain or doubtful. Such support can help undermine any tensions. For instance, send an e-mail praising the way your I-Boss handled a situation, even if that success was a rare occurrence.

The Typical Problem of I-Bosses

Unfortunately, I-Bosses are common and their actions affect millions of employees. One silver lining is that they don’t realize how powerful they are or they...

About the Author

John Hoover, Ph.D., is an organizational leadership consultant, a former publisher of books on tape, an executive with Walt Disney Productions and a division general manager with McGraw-Hill. His clients include Delta Air Lines, IBM, Hilton Hotels and Xerox.

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    A. J. 6 years ago
    Dig the title! That alone makes this abstract and the book worth considering.

    Good thing I had no water in my mouth when I read it.

    Thank you.