The Cost of Being an ‘A-Hole Boss’

Hands-on Management 3.0 leadership workshops focus on tangible practices to help managers, team leaders, middle management, and C-level executives increase employee engagement and foster transformational change within their organizations. Start Your Leadership Journey Today!

Rob Kalwarowsky

No one ever sets out to be a bad boss. And yet, the business world is full of them. The path to effective leadership is slippery, and the road to becoming a bad boss is often paved with good intentions.

Today we sit down with renowned leadership coach Rob Kalwarowsky to discuss what it really means to be a bad boss, and how toxic leadership can radically impact employees’ lives, both in and out of the office. 

We also cover some strategies for dealing with a-hole bosses, and how to avoid becoming one in the first place. 

Key Points

  1. Self-Reflection: Leaders must practice self-awareness to recognize and adjust their harmful behaviors. Utilizing feedback is key to this process.
  2. Dealing with Toxicity: Employees should strategize based on their boss’s behavior type—either through direct communication, setting boundaries, or seeking change when necessary.
  3. Mindset Overhaul: Both leaders and employees can benefit from changing their internal narratives, which can be facilitated by mindfulness exercises and professional coaching.
  4. Utilize Resources: For those wishing to improve their work situation or leadership style, engaging with targeted self-help resources can provide guidance and actionable steps.

Learn more about Rob and Elite High Performance here:

Email Rob directly at

Use the promo code HAPPINESSATWORK to save $50 on Rob’s program at 


*Please note that the transcript has been automatically generated and proofread for mistakes. But remains in spoken English, and some syntax and grammar mistakes might remain.

Elisa Tuijnder: [00:00:00] No one ever sets out to be a bad boss, and yet the business world is full of them. The path to effective leadership is slippery and the road to becoming a bad boss is often paved with good intentions. Today we sit down with a renowned leadership coach to discuss what it really means to be a bad boss.

We’ll also cover some strategies for dealing with toxic [00:00:30] leadership and how to avoid becoming an a hole boss in the first place. Before we dive in, you are listening to the Happiness at Work podcast by Management 3. 0, where we are getting serious about happiness.

I’m your host, Elisa Tuijnder, happiness enthusiast and Management 3. 0 team member. In this [00:01:00] podcast, we share insights from industry experts, influencers, and thought leaders about what it takes to be happy, motivated, and productive at work, so that loving your job becomes the norm and not the exception. We will be publishing every fortnight on Friday, so be sure to tune in and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Hello and welcome to [00:01:30] Happiness at Work. Our guest today is Rob Kalbarowski, a sought after leadership coach, TEDx speaker, and the co host of the Leadership Launch Project podcast. So thank you so much for joining us today, Rob.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Thanks for having me, Elisa. And it’s uh, it’s always fun to chat leadership with other great leaders.

So I’m happy to be here.

Elisa Tuijnder: Amazing. Thank you. Thank you for the compliments as well. Uh, Hey, so I’m really excited to chat with you today, but before we get started here on the podcast, we always start with the same question [00:02:00] and that is what does happiness mean to you?

Rob Kalwarowsky: So this answer for me has changed a lot in the last few years.

And I would say the basis of what I believe happiness is, is It’s a version of tranquility and peace in the mind, which allows you to be in the present moment. And the reason I say that is, is And it’s sort of a concept, like mindfulness is [00:02:30] basically the concept, but as we think about the future, we get anxious.

As we think about the past, we get depressed. And there’s always this cycle of pulling us in all these directions. And after a lot of the healing work that I’ve done, it finally allowed me to just be here. Yeah. And That’s where all the magic happens.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s really hard sometimes. We’re always focusing on what happened or what is yet to come.

And being in the now is super [00:03:00] important, isn’t it? So you concentrate in your work quite a lot on toxic leadership or what you call A hole bosses. Um, so how did you actually get interested in that? I always like to hear how people ended up where they, where they’re heading. What they’re doing at the moment.

So did you have a personal or professional experience that really threw you in that direction and said, okay, this is where I need to be. This is where I’m going to make the most difference.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Yeah. So I’m from Canada. Um, early in my [00:03:30] life, I got huge into water polo. I was playing on the junior national team.

Then I went to MIT and I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in management. And so I was like, yeah, I’m going to be an engineer. And I got a job in a mining company out in Western Canada and I had my first toxic boss. And I wasn’t really, like, obviously I wasn’t deep into leadership at the time and I didn’t really know too much [00:04:00] about it.

I was just experiencing it and it wasn’t, he wasn’t the like yelling at you. You’re bad. Like I had polo coaches like that, but it wasn’t like that. It was more like passive aggressive and the work that you’re doing, like I want to do and try to do new things, but we’ve always done it this way and you’re wrong.

And it landed in my experience, I often kept thinking was like, you hired me with the skills that I have. You knew [00:04:30] this was what you wanted. And yet you’re rejecting all of that. And basically you’re rejecting me. And that turned shortly into depression, which ultimately ended up in a suicide attempt in 2013.

And the part I, I really. struggle and also I talk a lot about with folks is the morning after when I woke up and I found myself still alive, I didn’t [00:05:00] have the ability to choose to leave the job. Like logically, I knew my job’s killing me. I hate it. My boss, like I didn’t like him and like, you know, you see in the movies, you’re like, yeah, you just wake up and you quit and you go to the beach and you’re like happy.

Right? But it was like, I had my mindset at the time was very much, well, if I don’t have a job, who am I? If I’m not making money, who am I? And that comes a lot from childhood, but it’s like these beliefs that folks have [00:05:30] about themselves. And I know a few folks are going to resonate with this is like, if you’ve ever had a period in time where you’ve either left a job or you got laid off and you’re in those few months where you don’t have one and people ask you, you know, like, what do you do?

It feels really weird to say. nothing, or I’m unemployed. Right? It feels like, what am I supposed to say, and why does it feel so uncomfortable? And so that was really what kept me in that job. And actually, the data [00:06:00] proves this out. Research says that folks who work for a toxic boss actually stay two years longer in the job.

Then everybody else. And then I guess about, took me about six years. So I left that job after about a year after the suicide attempt. And then I went and worked various jobs in heavy industry for the next six years. And I saw it everywhere. And like I was, I did consulting for five years and I went to like 60 different facilities, like manufacturing plants, mines, [00:06:30] oil and gas, all these places.

And the folks were not happy. And their bosses were these command control, very, you know, toxic masculinity type of people.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. And probably the environment calls a little bit for it as well, right? The heavy machinery and the

Rob Kalwarowsky: Yeah. And, and it’s like, I actually, from someone who has been on many, the teams that I played in Polo were all dudes, right?

So like that was an [00:07:00] environment, but I saw environments at work that were worse than those. And like even I had been in a frat house in college and like the bullying and the behavior I saw in the workplace was shocking in some of these places. And it was 2019, I was trying to leave corporate and so I hired a coach and I started learning like what leadership actually was and what could be.

And then that led me back into therapy and [00:07:30] into psychiatrist’s office and finding all the pieces that finally worked for me. And then two years after that, I quit my job to become a leadership coach. And then two years after that, I did a TED talk. So earlier this year, I did a TED talk and I moved to Costa Rica.

And like, my life is beyond what I could have imagined when I started, which was only, you know, three and a half, four years ago.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, that’s amazing. You know what really kind of [00:08:00] resonated with me, what you were saying there, like, that you stay at these jobs longer. And it made me really think about toxic relationships in general.

People often stay in relationships that are toxic a little bit longer because they’re going to be like, as long as I try a bit harder, they’re going to see what I do and what I can. And it’s so, it’s such a weird human thing that we do, right? But yeah, recognizing that is, is, is incredibly important. Um, so thank you for sharing your personal story there.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Yeah, you’re, you’re welcome. And that’s [00:08:30] totally, like, folks often say to me, you know, like, why do you talk about bad bosses? It’s like, Honestly, it’s just relationships in general. Like I talk about it cause I’m a leadership coach. And so we talk about relationships in terms of bosses or, or even subordinates or like whatever.

But so here’s the advice. If you Google like how to deal with a bad boss. The advice online falls into two camps. One is like, suck up to your boss, make them feel good, you know, do things. And like, you think about like a toxic relationship. [00:09:00] If you went to a, you know, a therapist, and they said, Oh, yeah, well, you know, suck up to your partner, who’s being abusive to you.

Like, you would be like, I’m firing this person. Need

Elisa Tuijnder: to find myself a new therapist.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Yeah. And then the other, the other camp is like, just quit. Like, don’t do anything, just walk out the door. And I’m not saying that, like, obviously, in some cases, that’s the correct decision. That’s necessary. Yeah. But there are also [00:09:30] spots where, and not all the toxic bosses are made the same, and we’ll talk about that.

But it’s like, in some areas, you can actually coach your boss, and they’ll change how they behave and they’ll improve. And so then you don’t actually have to leave. Or, in other cases, it’s like, what if you Need the money because you have to pay bills or you have medical insurance that you need insurance

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, you know,

Rob Kalwarowsky: there’s a lot of concerns that are outside of like just walking away because walking away Yes, like [00:10:00] I wish and this is half of why I did the ted talk was like I wanted to do it for me when I was 24, right?

But not everyone is, you know, a single dude who I literally could have just Driven across the country and live with my parents like it wouldn’t have really done much. Not

Elisa Tuijnder: everybody has that luxury Yeah,

Rob Kalwarowsky: and so that’s the other side is like there’s a lot of internal stuff you can do And then that internal mindset work that you can do will help you show up differently, [00:10:30] which will change your relationships.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. You just said, um, there’s different types of bad bosses and like the one that you just described for your story is one that we all know and that is super recognizable. But are there any other, you know, is there, you just said there’s more than one way, so I kind of want to unpick that.

And are there any kind of red flags? Even when you’re maybe just going for an interview, is there already something that you think like, okay, maybe the people who work here might not be as good for [00:11:00] my mental health after all?

Rob Kalwarowsky: Totally. And that’s a, that’s a great question. And so just to start off, so there’s six different types of what are known as destructive leaders.

And in total, we have, basically, the research talks about seven total different types. Six are destructive, and then one is called non destructive. Non destructive is a good manager, basically. The sad part is 65 percent of the workforce experiences a toxic or [00:11:30] destructive leader. So two thirds of the folks that are listening to this show right now have a bad boss.

And likely some of you listening to the show, some of you will exhibit toxic boss behaviors. However, I want to also state this. Having toxic boss behaviors doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. And it doesn’t also mean you can’t change. And that’s why I talk about it in terms of behaviors and not personality.[00:12:00]

Because behaviors means you can change them. Like, you know, it’s like, imagine you wanted to start running tomorrow. Like instead of walking, you could run. It’s a behavior change. It’s not this crazy thing that is impossible to do. You just have to be deliberate and you have to learn how to do it. And then you have to commit to doing simple now.

The first type is the one that we often think of when we see in movies, like what’s a toxic boss? We see the arrogant and violent [00:12:30] boss like Darth Vader or like Gordon Ramsey circa like 2014, right? And they’re known as the arrogant and violent boss. They’re abusive, they’ll make physical and verbal threats, they’ll punish people, actually very uncommon.

So only about 5. 5 percent of the workforce experiences these bosses. What’s way more common is what’s known as the abusive narcissist. So these folks [00:13:00] are about 20%, like 19. 7 percent of the workforce experiences them. They’re similar. They’re just not violent in kind of the way, but they’re narcissistic, they’re ego oriented, they break promises, they take credit for folks work, they deflect blame when, you know, something went wrong, and they’ll kind of like manage folks with threats and punishments and fear, right?

These folks are very calm. And like, what was I reading? Someone at Amazon [00:13:30] yesterday, I was reading the article. They said something like If you don’t come back to the office, it’s not going to go well for you. That’s an abusive versus assist boss, right? Like I’m making a threat. I’m not saying like, I’m going to fire you, but basically I’m saying I’m going to fire you.

So those folks are more in the, we call them like actively destructive. And those folks, if you have a boss like that, leaving is going to be your likely your [00:14:00] best option. Now, you can set boundaries and stuff first, you can report them to HR, none of those things are kind of this silver bullet strategy.

Right? Because HR, I have folks that I work with who have abusive managers. They report it to HR, nothing’s happened. Right? Mm. Yeah. I’ve also had HR also

Elisa Tuijnder: works for that boss.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Right? And, and that, that’s the thing, right? It’s like, it depends the power structure at the company. It depends about the boss’s boss, like if the boss’s boss likes them, [00:14:30] then, you know, and sometimes the whole culture, at least at the top, is sort of abusive and destructive.

Yeah. And so they like folks that are like them. And the research actually says narcissists do accelerate their careers faster and rise to the top. Yeah. And so we as a human race, as much as you and I talk about human centric leadership, the folks that actually rise to the [00:15:00] top often are these narcissists.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We can think of a few very, um, very prominent examples like. Somebody who has a social media platform at the moment that is a failing.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Or every politician out there. Yeah, yeah, yeah, true. Right? So those are kind of the ones that we would normally, and that’s like, so 25 percent of the workforce experiences those type of bosses.

So it’s wildly prevalent. [00:15:30] Now, there are the folks that I would say, you know, if people listening to this show are any type of destructive leader. It’s probably these types and they’re called passive destructive and they’re not out to get their folks. They’re not making threats. They’re not yelling, jumping up and down.

They’re not doing these things. They’re like one type is known as the messy boss. And it’s just like, you haven’t learned how to manage people effectively. So you give a task, you don’t give [00:16:00] enough details, you don’t give enough specifications. You sort of are unclear in your instructions and it just makes people confused.

And then other things is like, I had a boss like this too, which is like, he would read a book or go to a conference every month. And then every month he would be like, Oh, I want you to do this. A new idea. And then he would change, you know. Change direction

Elisa Tuijnder: constantly.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Yeah. And it’s funny, like heavy industry was full of these folks and they would call it flavor of the month and [00:16:30] every, all the staff would call it flavor of the month.

And they would, it would be like, ah, we’re doing this, this month. And often the stuff actually at the core of it was all wanting the same thing, but they would just change the, but anyways, yeah. So that, that can make folks very destabilized because. Yeah. Yeah, like unless you’re very confident in how you know how to do your job, like getting very unclear instructions or not sharing what you’re supposed to deliver or when it can be very kind of like destabilizing.[00:17:00]

Elisa Tuijnder: No, I was wondering what when you were talking earlier there was the ones you see in movies, the ones that we all know. Is there some form of glorification around this? Like, you know, The Gordon Ramsay, Jessica 2014. Why were we all watching this? Because this was not actually a fun thing to watch at all.

Uh, not that everybody was watching this, but yeah, is there some form of a glorification around this and is this changing? I have a feeling It feels a little bit like it’s changing, um, but there are then very loud voices that are still pervasive.

Rob Kalwarowsky: [00:17:30] Totally. And I think that’s where, you know, your concept of Management 3, we call it Leadership 2.

0, but it’s, it’s the same thing, right? It is. We’re starting to realize that. This is, this behavior is unacceptable. And especially the younger employees like Gen Z’s and even millennials. Right. And they’re not taking it. Yeah. Like I am not going to accept an arrogant boss. I am also not going to accept an abusive narcissistic boss.

Like if I had one of those, now that I’ve [00:18:00] done the internal work, of course. I would leave, right. And if I saw, and you mentioned the job interview, right? Like if I saw a hiring manager coming into a job interview and he was rude to the, the HR person who’s in the room or the, you know, admin behind the desk or anyone that I saw, I would be like, I am not working for this company, right?

The other side of it, which is, this is why we call them destructive leaders, is the research tied them to [00:18:30] actual outcomes in terms of profitability, productivity, hidden goals, like the corporate stuff, but also the well being of the workforce. And so when we talk about destructive leaders, they’re not only bad for the company, they’re bad for the people’s happiness and well being as well.

And so give you some stats on this. Yeah, I’d love to. Yeah. Yeah. And so from a perspective of mental health and physical health. Bad or [00:19:00] toxic management or toxic environments increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and major disease. So stuff like diabetes, cardiovascular cancer, these things like this.

So you’re literally dying more, your risk of dying goes up. And the longer you stay, the higher your risk goes. Makes sense because basically it’s cortisol

Elisa Tuijnder: levels. Yeah. It’ll go up.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Yeah. Yeah. And then like depression goes up 300%. You know, and then your suicide risk goes up a lot as well. I [00:19:30] have both the personal story of this, but also the data backs that up.

Elisa Tuijnder: The numbers.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Yeah. And then if we look at the corporate goal side, we can see the research also comes from kind of the other angle, but they talk about high trust workplaces have two to three percent in additional stock returns over their competitors. And so this is annualized over a 26 year period. So if you think about that, that’s a [00:20:00] massive return on investment for building a high trust workplace where folks are seen and heard and productive.

And then if you look at just like Gallup stats on engagement, right. It’s like the manager itself is 70 percent of engagement and engagement is like higher profitability by 17%, you know, higher product, like all the stats and you can look those up. Yeah. They’re all amazing.

Elisa Tuijnder: They are. Yeah, we’re still out here shouting them every week.

Somehow, something comes up that happiness at work is good for business [00:20:30] and good for your bottom line. And we still have to do the work, unfortunately has to be put out there more and more and more. So. What we’re saying is there’s a bunch of different toxic bosses. There’s the ones who really know that they’re being toxic.

There’s the ones that don’t. They’re doing it coincidentally or not with a lot of malicious intent. Let’s just say it like that. And the ones who are probably doing it Intentionally, I think we can’t help them, but the ones who are [00:21:00] doing it by accident, or all of a sudden they’re listening to your story thinking, maybe I have done that.

Maybe I do the flavor of the month thing. Like, I mean, we’re all to some degree, probably a little bit guilty of this, but how, how do they work on this or how do their employees bring it up to them as well? Like, Hey, I’m not comfortable with this. What are some of the coping strategies that we can actually look into that are beyond quit amounts?

Rob Kalwarowsky: Totally right. And, you know, And so first, let’s talk about the managers, right? And here’s the first thing. [00:21:30] If you’re listening to Happiness at Work, You’re not an abusive narcissist or an arrogant environment boss,

Elisa Tuijnder: right? Otherwise you wouldn’t be here.

Rob Kalwarowsky: It’s not like, you know, Elon Musk is listening to the Happiness at Work show, right?

Elisa Tuijnder: And he’s finally, he’s going to see the light and he’s like, Oh damn, this is what I’ve been doing wrong. I wish

Rob Kalwarowsky: Right? So, so it’s a good start, right? Now that doesn’t mean you don’t have necessarily some behaviors, right? Like I have a tendency to be a messy boss. [00:22:00] And so it’s kind of like, like I do a lot of research.

I look into a lot of new ideas cause like it’s part of our job. And sometimes I find something and I’m like, wow, I want to go down this path. And so sometimes I like get excited. I throw it to my team and I’m like, whatever. But it’s more for me, it’s like, I need to tell somebody about my idea and I want more like ideation.

I don’t necessarily want execution. And what I started to realize [00:22:30] with feedback was I cannot do this with some folks. I can do this with a few folks because they get it for what it is. And they’ll sort of kick back and be like, what do you think about this? Or, or do you think this is good? Or we’ll sort of get into the ideation phase.

And that works for some folks. It also doesn’t work for others. That’s okay, but getting feedback was really like, now I know and I can adjust my behavior to say like, when I get a cool idea, I can talk to these people. When I get [00:23:00] an idea that I want to actually turn into, I need you to do this. Then I can break that into something specific instructions and whatever, and I can give it to the other folks, right?

So identifying these things starts with feedback. It also starts with self awareness. So like, what do I have the tendency to do now? Everybody listening.

Elisa Tuijnder: Self awareness. So, so important. Yeah.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Yeah. So everybody listening is [00:23:30] going to be like, well, Rob, I’m totally self aware. And the research backs this up. So Dr.

Tasha Urich wrote a book about self awareness called Insight. And in her research, 95 percent of people think they’re self aware when only 12 to 15 percent of people actually are. And so self awareness is stuff like, I understand my values, my guiding principles, my mindset. I’m able to understand, like, how do I behave in certain moments?

And [00:24:00] then it’s also divided into internal and external, which internal is basically like, I understand Rob. And then external means, I understand how. Elisa is perceiving me in this moment. Perceiving you. Yep. Those are not correlated. So you can be like very externally self aware, but you can have no internal self awareness or the opposite or anything in between.

So just, but if you want to get started on that, go to, I believe it’s insightbook. [00:24:30] com, but you can Google it. And Dr. Jurek has a self awareness quiz on her website that can get you started and it’s free. So you can, you can go for it. But that’s really what I would start with, with folks. And the other side of it is starting to do like a values exercise.

So starting to understand, you know, what are your five to 10 core values? And then we and Brene Brown take it a step further and we want folks to distill it to two. So then it’s like. [00:25:00] If I’m deciding on another job I want to take or someone I want to pursue a relationship with, or if I want to move or any of these decisions, I can say my two core values are X and Y.

Does this align or not align with those two things? Those are some great places to start.

Elisa Tuijnder: Those are definitely some great places to start. And I always love that people always think that they’re super self aware. And by saying that, that’s almost That’s [00:25:30] almost a bit narcissistic to say, right? Like, Oh yeah, I know everything about myself.

Um, and I know that’s sort of in definition of it, but it’s, it’s the statistics around it are, are, are very interesting. And it’s also a movable target, right? So you change over the years and, and doing that self reflection and, you know, there’s so many helpful metrics and tests also around this that can really help you see these things.

Um, and this is the value, yeah.

Rob Kalwarowsky: And so like a lot of folks, and this is super common, right, is our [00:26:00] eyes face forward. We can’t look at ourselves. And so I often say as a coach, I’m a mirror of truth. And so this is the value of having a coach, a therapist, close friends or partners, and even like very much cultivating, uh, high trust, psychologically safe environment at work.

Yeah. where, whether it’s a peer or someone on your team or your boss, having that person being able to say, you know, [00:26:30] Hey Rob, like, I’ve noticed this behavior, you know, what’s going on. Or like, I’ve noticed that you’re really good at these things. Let’s push in this area. Right. So having those mirrors of truth in your life is going to really up your self awareness.

because you’re getting feedback. Part of it is cultivating it yourself. The other part of it is getting that feedback so then you can further cultivate what other folks see because it’s hard to see ourselves.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. And I think also in [00:27:00] an environment that we propagate that people should create this people first.

work environment, where also trust and psychological safety and all of these things are very important. It’s going to be so much easier that you say to your colleague, Hey, you know how you handled that situation? I wasn’t very comfortable. Then in the situations that you were describing beforehand in the mining or in the industrial engineering side of things, not that that’s just there where it happens, happens in many places.

where it’s just like, my will is, [00:27:30] I’m God, and you’re just going to do what I say you do, then it’s not as easy, I’m guessing, to say, Hey, boss, that didn’t feel very good.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Yeah. And, but it’s like, imagine, right? Like, it’s like Gordon Ramsay on Hell’s Kitchen, early seasons, where he calls the person a donkey and throws the dish on the ground, right?

If that person would say, Hey, this behavior is unacceptable. He would be, he would get even more mad and he’d be like, get off the show. Right. Like this was the, I mean, obviously it’s an [00:28:00] assumption, but like, And obviously it was a show

Elisa Tuijnder: as well. I think they inflated that a little bit, but yeah.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Yeah. Right.

But it’s like that feedback’s not going to work. Um, especially in that moment where he’s super triggered. Right. But if you have a manager, who’s like the flavor of the month person, or they’re not actively destructive, so they’re not like abusive towards you, you know, you could say, you know, Hey Elisa, like you, you gave me this project and like, you know, what are some of the, what’s the deadline?

Like, what [00:28:30] do you, what are you actually looking for? Like, can you give me some specifics or can we sit down together and work on a project plan? So I totally understand exactly what you want, right? That can be much more approachable to some types of managers. And so that’s why one of the first steps before I have folks starting to do like, what’s their strategies?

on dealing with their bosses, like identifying what type they are, because what type gives you the first level of [00:29:00] now I can apply these strategies that I’m going to use.

Elisa Tuijnder: What leads to a happy life? What are the various ways to be happy? Happiness means different things to each of us. Yet after doing extensive research, Management 3point0 founder Juergen discovered the common thread. Happiness is something we create. It is not something to achieve. [00:29:30] It is a path you choose, not a destination to arrive at.

So many of us spend our times in pursuit of happiness. Yet instead of searching for it, we need to find ways to live it, embrace it, and implement it into our daily lives. We created the 12 Steps to Happiness at Management 3point0. You can find more information and even download a free poster of the 12 Steps at management3o.


And I’d like to get your opinion as well on how important the concept of, or the principle of feedback is in this, because I mean, within Management 3point0, we’re really trying to say, get away from this yearly review. This yearly review is just like, it’s, I mean, it’s a token thing. Everybody’s doing like knowing, but that it’s coming up and it doesn’t feel really good.

Like, so we propagate more things like, Continuous every three weeks, [00:30:30] sitting down and not just with your bosses, with your peers, et cetera, having a 15 minute cup of coffee and saying, like, Hey, how did I do? Is there anything that you want to talk about? Where does that stand for you and when you’re working with your clients?

Where does that?

Rob Kalwarowsky: Yeah. So feedback is. is super important and without it, you cannot improve or your, or your efforts to improvement are going to be greatly diminished because you’re basically flying blind. And I talk about this like sports, right? Because, you know, [00:31:00] like I used to play and like anyone who plays any sport, even like little league or, you know, peewee football or whatever, they have a coach and the coach at every practice gives feedback, right?

And it’s like, Hey, these things are good. You know, I’d like you to change this or tweak, tweak this. And it’s, it’s not this element of, you know, Rob’s a bad person. So like, you know, you’re bad and you cannot, you know, play better. It’s like, well, [00:31:30] I wish you would have gone this way instead of this way, or shot the ball instead of past it, or like these small things, right?

And that’s really where we go with folks. And the big switch, right, is the feedback cannot be this element of you, right? It’s like, You know, Rob, you’re a bad guy, or you’re dumb, or you’re this. It has to be process and behavior centric. Because again, these things you can [00:32:00] change, but also it’s like the feedback when you’re giving folks feedback, it’s like, I want to give you feedback and say, Hey, this was great because I want you to do more of this behavior.

or reinforce that this process worked and is good. And the same thing about the feedback for improvement. It’s like, I want you to switch this behavior or tweak it a bit, or I want to tweak this process so then next time we can get it better, right? And it just needs to become this every day, all the time type of thing.

Like the, a great book for this, [00:32:30] Kim Scott wrote Radical Candor, and we launchpad, but it’s, um, the other side of this is, This whole concept and and I’ve seen it. With radical candor, I also see it now with authentic, authentic leadership, is people believe that they can become an asshole. They’re like, well, you know, radical candor means like, I can tell people what I truly think, which is like, they’re bad.

[00:33:00] Or like, Being authentic, when the thoughts inside my head say like, I want to yell at this person, it just says authenticity would say, Hey, I can go and do this. That is not what any of this means.

Elisa Tuijnder: That is abusing the concepts. Yeah.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Right? So I work a lot with leaders mindsets. And so this is very surface level stuff.

And if you think your authentic self is someone who judges harshly others, [00:33:30] That is not you. This is a part of you that actually judges you the worst. And so you have likely some stuff around yourself, which means that internal dialogue, like start turning into that because it’s going to be criticizing you in various ways, very harshly.

And that’s why you think it’s okay to judge others in the same way. That’s not actually you. That’s a defense mechanism that your brain has built up to protect you from feeling [00:34:00] really hard and painful things. And so just to give you folks that context is like do and dive deep into your mindset. And that’s part of the self awareness stuff, because that will actually allow you to become your true authentic self, which is.

This manager 3. 0 or this 2. 0 leader who is like healed and compassionate, and those folks get the best out of their people in terms of productivity and [00:34:30] happiness and overall well being.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. Hey, I wondered, obviously like you’re, you’re there in lovely Costa Rica doing the Pura Vida. Yeah. Um, that means also, you know, there’s so much changes, there’s so much more remote work.

Uh, I’m guessing that not all of your clients and all of your team moved with you, then you would have a really big house there. Um, but is it, is it harder to be an effective boss in the age of remote work? And is it also maybe harder to be an A hole boss because you can just [00:35:00] turn them off? Uh, well, not fully, but you know what I mean?

Like just a little note on, on remote work and how that’s changed. your view on AOL bosses and the other way around?

Rob Kalwarowsky: What I’ve seen is the ability for AOL bosses to constantly be in folks lives. Okay, so worse, yeah. More than before. And so when I worked in heavy industry, right, like I had For at least part of my career, I had a desktop computer, [00:35:30] right?

So I didn’t even have a laptop. So it wasn’t impossible for me to bring it any home. It was like a desktop, right? And so it stayed at the office and my manager didn’t have my cell phone number. When I left at, you know, five o’clock or whatever, I was out and the weekend I was out, like I was not checking my emails.

I was not doing anything like this. What I see now with a lot of my clients. One is they have, you know, their work email or Teams or whatever on their phones. [00:36:00] So they carry that around all the time. And then also because they’re remote working, they have their laptops at home. And this has opened up the possibility.

Some of my clients lead global teams. And so they have folks that are in India all the way to San Francisco. And so like they could literally work 24 hours straight and always have someone on their team online. And that’s really what it’s done. It’s pushed them instead of [00:36:30] the nine hours or eight hours, it’s become 12.

It’s become 14. It’s become all the time and it’s punishing folks like it’s, it’s so stressful. And a lot of what we work with folks right away is them cultivating their own mindset so they can set boundaries like. I am turning my computer off at a certain time and I’m taking Teams off my phone or I’m not going to check it on the weekend.

And like [00:37:00] to bring that stress level, like Gallup has said that it’s like 44 percent of people are at this level of stress where it gets worse every day. And it’s like to bring that stress level from like, I’m fight or flight a hundred percent of the time to like, I’m starting to have moments where I don’t have to think about work.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, it’s, um, you’re definitely right. The, the pressure to be constantly available is really high. You try and push that away, but it’s very easy to sit on a platform and do your [00:37:30] emails or. I don’t know, like, I, I have my AirPods in when I’m cycling. So I hear Slack messages come in constantly. I’m never really shutting off.

Right. So, um, yeah, so sometimes, um, and being more mindful of that, I am lucky enough, obviously to set my own days as a remote freelancer, but Yeah, I can only imagine if you then work in a rigid structure where your boss actually loves to take advantage of that. And you want to impress that person that you, yeah, can’t say no, right?

And that it’s coming at you [00:38:00] at a million miles and from many different little pings on your phone and on your laptop, and that it’s, that it’s really complicated. Good companies should have really good rules and regulations around this as well.

Rob Kalwarowsky: It’s, it’s both, right? And so a lot of these behaviors also are your own and your mindset.

And this is another important reason why mindset is so important. Because some of the, like those defense mechanisms that make someone judgmental also can make [00:38:30] folks like people please or hyperachiever or, you know, like constantly, like honestly, like a few years ago. I was diagnosed with like OCD and yeah, like obsessive compulsive and ADHD.

And really what it was was I was in such a highly traumatized state and it actually helped me succeed. Like it helped me succeed in sports. It helped me succeed at MIT was this constant [00:39:00] obsession of what do I have to do next? And my brain would just loop. Like at MIT, I remember like I would finish something and it would be like, okay, what’s next?

What’s the next thing to do? Constant, constant, constant.

Elisa Tuijnder: And not being happy because it’s done. You’re never happy because it’s done thing. It’s like, okay, next, next, next, next, next, next. Yeah.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Yeah. And it’s, it’s all this like self. And now when I, you know, we started the pod, it’s like, I have moments now, a lot of my life now I’m able to just be in this moment.[00:39:30]

Yeah. And it’s, it’s this element of. Once we can identify the mindset that’s triggering us to be in this state of like, well, I have to have Slack messages on my phone when I’m biking. Like that same, that same deep work can help you also set boundaries with your boss, whether you tell them or not, like whether you just turn off the notifications and say, like, for a long time, I bought an iPod, [00:40:00] specifically a non phone.

And I would bring that to the gym and I would lock the phone in a locker. So then I didn’t have access to anything. It’s just like, I listen to my music or my podcast and like. do my workout, and there was no way someone could call me. And it actually gives you moments. Yeah, I used to do that with swimming.

Elisa Tuijnder: I used to do that with swimming, just purely because I couldn’t have my phone in a pool. Totally. And I did have one of those [00:40:30] underwater MP3 things, like really old sort of situation. But it was great because like, you know, you are really switching off and it’s not like it can go quickly grab my phone or anything like that.

So that really helps.

Rob Kalwarowsky: So here’s some advice. So folks out there, if you’re like this constantly stressed, always online, getting notifications, everything, all this stuff, if you actually want to improve your performance at work, you want to be more creative, you want to [00:41:00] have ideas and innovate, put your phone away.

And go for a walk for 30 minutes or for an hour. Like if you can find a park or like somewhere in nature, or even if it’s just around your, around your house, just put the phone away and force yourself to walk by yourself, that will actually improve your innovation. Because subconsciously your brain’s going to be thinking about, you know, your problems that you’re having, or, you know, I’m trying [00:41:30] to sell more things, or I’m trying to do this, or I’m trying to do that.

And it’ll give you time and you’ll come up with some incredibly brilliant ideas. So I challenge folks out there, go do that. I sent me an email with what you came up with. I’m interested, but totally like, it’s a, it’s a great strategy.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah. I do it all the time as well, where I’m just kind of desk meeting and like, I don’t know what to do.

I literally just go, okay, let’s walk. Let’s just go walk. Hey, you just gave us one of these super good tangible practices, but like, um, you [00:42:00] podcast, we always want to end with a bunch of tangible practices. So things that our listeners can start implementing as soon as possible. Uh, now you just told us, yeah, just leave it all behind.

Go on a walk. Is there anything else, um, maybe better, more related to like this asshole boss? How do we get rid of him? Or if I’m an asshole boss, how do I change?

Rob Kalwarowsky: So that’s a, it’s great, right? The first thing we’ll talk about, like we always talked about self awareness, but, uh, I have a three ish, three, three and a half minute [00:42:30] visualization meditation.

And if you send me an email, cause I don’t know how else I could send it to you, but if you send me an email, Rob at Elite High Performance, I’ll send that to you for free. And what I would recommend is start the morning off with it. It’s only, it’s quick. It’s like three minutes. Um, and then if you have like a break between meetings or you’re feeling that stressful, it’ll creep up.

Just drop it in, right? And, you know, maybe use it once a day or twice a day, but [00:43:00] it’s going to start cultivating you and that internal conversation in your mind. And so that’s going to really help you both as a leader. And also, if you have a bad boss, it’s going to help you cultivate where are the areas that they’re impacting me and what do I want to do about it?

The other side of it is if folks want, I have a free ebook on my website, howtodealboss. com. You can go there, you can get the free ebook that breaks down the six different destructive leadership [00:43:30] types and gives you strategies for each one of like, you know, how do you deal with them? So that’s easy enough.

It’s free. And then if you want to do the program, there’s also a program on that website. And that one goes a little bit deeper. We do some mindset work. We do some visualization work so you can start to cultivate and believe and change your mind about how you can behave at work. And then also, where do you want to go necessarily in your career?

So you can [00:44:00] get a 50. I’m giving you a 50 discount on that. So if you go to howtodealboss. com and you Hit the how to deal with an asshole boss program and you type in the promo code happiness at work all caps one word You’ll get 50 bucks off that program and it’ll get you rolling.

Elisa Tuijnder: Amazing. Yeah. What we’ll do is we’ll put that in the show notes as well so that people can easily do one click and go there.

Um, so yeah, thank you for that, Rob. And I think hopefully it helps some [00:44:30] people who are dealing with, uh, or are listening to the podcast because they want to find more happiness at work. I want to deal with these A hole bosses. Uh, yeah,

Rob Kalwarowsky: it’s what we all want and what we all need, and it’s actually what’s better for everyone.

So. Let’s get it. Let’s get it done.

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely. Okay, Rob. Well, thank you so much for this conversation. I really, um, kind of enjoyed just having to think again about AOL bosses. I haven’t had one for a little while, but they gave me some feelings [00:45:00] about past experience. So thank you so much for inviting us and all the listeners at

Rob Kalwarowsky: home.

Thanks for having me, Alisa. And yeah, I just, I hope folks Learn how to become better leaders so we can really make everyone happier, healthier, and more productive at work and at home.

Elisa Tuijnder: We’re working on it every day. Thanks again, Rob.

Rob Kalwarowsky: Thank you.[00:45:30]

Elisa Tuijnder: You’ve been listening to the Happiness at Work podcast by Management 3point0, where we are getting serious about happiness. Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And if you enjoy our shows, don’t be shy. Write us a review. We’d Share the happiness with your colleagues, family, or friends.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn under Management [00:46:00] 3O.

Have a listen to more of our insightful podcasts