Following are selected excerpts of a series of e-mail exchanges I had with a reader of my books and articles. It’s a great example of having the self-esteem, and mustering the courage, to do all you can to change your job situation (some of those details have been left out of this summary). And when you’ve done all you can and haven’t been able to change your situation; you need to change your job.

    “I am currently working in a very toxic environment…Husband/wife/son and anyone else that is related…not good for business, but not my call…

    How can it be that you are the only one who is willing to speak out about ineffective (bad) management? I have spent the past number of years thinking I am crazy or unemployable….knowing in my heart that the people in management are my biggest obstacle because they are too worried about their own jobs to recognize a potential asset to their company…. What a waste of the last 20+ years of my life…. Is there anybody out there who is interested in, (or looking for) a super bright, intelligent, accomplished woman who is willing to give her all to a company that gives something (however small) in return?

    My friend started sending me some of your articles. Your writing has confirmed what I knew all along….that I’m not crazy and that not every manager is a good manager. I am now reading your articles to find coping skills until I can find another job ‘-)”

There are more bad managers than good ones. But there are also some exceptionally good managers around. They are just hard to find. Many well-run organizations are populated with a large number of good managers. But even there, a number of poor managers can exist. And there are also lots of cases of managers providing strong leadership to their own teams despite the more toxic environment or poorly run organization they are living in.

Don’t consider that you’ve wasted twenty years of your life. During that time, you’ve become much clearer about what you really want in a manager, organization, and your job. If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to get very clear about your own core strengths and values. Then look for a job that aligns with those, and an environment and manager that supports the things you want, in order to bring out the best in you.

You might also want to take a look at the growing skill/mind set of “upward leadership.” This means that if you do find yourself in a job and organization you like but with a bad boss, don’t be a victim. Take control your own situation and learn how to manage your manager. You can find a large selection of free articles and excerpts from my last two books, Growing the Distance and The Leader’s Digest around the theme of taking responsibility for our lives and choices here.