People don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses


I’m so mad at myself. I pride myself on finding profound concepts reflected in popular culture. But this one I missed. Until I caught the latest post on Fistful of Talent, this one penned by John Hollon, titled, “A New Year’s Surprise: I Saw a Good Woman Dump a Bad Boss … All During the Rose Bowl.”

Though I’d seen the Northwestern Mutual commercial countless times that day, I had missed the consequence of the bad boss. And I, the workforce expert who provides counsel to companies on how to transform bad bosses into good ones, had missed it.

Unfortunately, that old refrain, “people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses,” is probably true. That’s because typically there are two ways managers become managers with responsibility over people.

Most people become managers because they are technically proficient—they know how to do their job better than anybody else. Others become managers because they have seniority—they have been around longer than anybody else.

Neither of these—proficiency nor seniority—has anything to do with one's ability to manage people.