Join getAbstract to access the summary!

When Smart People Work for Dumb Bosses

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

When Smart People Work for Dumb Bosses

How to Survive in a Crazy and Dysfunctional Workplace


15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Actually, working for a dumb boss isn't smart. Do you stick it out for your career's sake or hit the road? (Hint: Hasta la vista, baby.)

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Concrete Examples
  • Engaging


You would be hard-pressed to find a more honest book about business and the often short sighted, un-productive, arbitrary, and just plain stupid decisions made by "dumb" managers and leaders. William and Kathleen Lundin articulately challenge the absurdities of corporate culture and the workplace. In this landmark book, they define "dumb" quite broadly: it applies to the stupid, the egomaniacal, the dictatorial, the scheming, the manipulative, and even the abusive. First-person accounts from leaders and employees illustrate the authors’ journey through the epidemic dumbness of corporate structure, decision-making, and practice. The authors thoroughly and truthfully present these problems, analyze their impact, and offer remedies. However, their conclusions often clearly indicate that if you are mired in a consistently, terminally dumb workplace, leaving is usually your best option. Don’t let the juvenile look of the volume throw you. recommends this book to everyone with a job: it’s that good, like a sharp-witted social commentary delivered by keen observers.


The Leader-Follower Relationship

In the workplace, and in the inherent structure and culture of any corporation, the "leader-follower" (boss-subordinate) relationship can be very dysfunctional on many levels. Employees are often smarter than their bosses and have a better grasp of reality and better solutions. But, these same employees are put in the position of supporting their managers’ dumb behavior.

Bosses can be manipulative, petty, arbitrary, authoritarian, cruel, and downright abusive. Employees often stay for years and years in these horrible situations. They hang around out of company loyalty, the need for a paycheck, and the fear that they will not find work elsewhere that meets their other needs (salary level, benefits, etc.). People also stay because they have been broken down by negativity or abuse, and have become willing participants in their own victimhood.

The truth is that "the dysfunction of smart people working for dumb bosses has short-range corporate survival value, and therefore corporations will continue to encourage this dysfunctional relationship." Smart people continue to work for dumb, even abusive, bosses because ultimately it "works...

About the Authors

William Lundin, Ph.D., and Kathleen Lundin are cofounders of Worklife Productions, a consulting/training practice that serves corporations of every size. Widely recognized for their straight-talking approach to workplace problems, they have trained managers for companies such as Ameritech, Hewlett Packard, Saturn, Harley Davidson, Sun Microsystems, Johnson Hill Press, M&M, Mars, and many others. They are also the authors of The Healing Manger, Building Positive Relationships at Work, Working with Difficult People, and Three Values of Leadership. They are based in Whitewater, Wisconsin.

Comment on this summary