You dream, you say, of being a rotten leader? Congratulations! Today is your lucky day.

There are people all around you who want to build great businesses, make money, or change the world. They need you to make it easy to steal your customers and your brightest and most passionate employees. You’ll be doing a lot of people a big favor!

And who wants to go home every night miserable and exhausted? You, that’s who! Being a rotten leader is the first step.

So, we’re here to help. What you are about to read is full of advice on how to give feedback like a rotten leader. It’s good advice. We’ve tried some of it, and we’ve watched others try it, too. Believe us, it works.

This advice is not difficult to put into practice. Giving feedback like a rotten leader is one of the easiest things to do. In fact, we’re proud to say these principles are being put into action all over the world today -- even right now, as you read this. Rotten leaders are everywhere -- learn from the worst!

Enough yakking! Let’s get to it -- The Rotten Leader’s Guide to Giving Feedback.

Don’t Even Bother!

This is the single most important tip we can give a rotten leader. Your direct reports should already know what they’re supposed to be doing, and whether they’re doing it well, or poorly. And, if they don’t, it’s best to keep them guessing -- uncertainty makes for sharper and more engaged employees, right? Besides, you’ve got better things to do with your time than give feedback -- that office football pool isn’t going to fill itself out, you know!

See? Easy! We could (and should) stop right here and you’d already be a world-class rotten leader. But if you must, or feel the slightest or rarest impulse to give people feedback, here’s how to be the mostest rottenest feedback giver ever.

Believe the Worst!

Rotten feedback doesn’t just happen. You’ve got to be prepared! Save yourself a lot of time and inconvenience by making some simple assumptions about the people who work for you:

  • they’re incompetent

  • they’re out to get you

  • they can’t be trusted

  • they spend most of the day thinking up ways to make mistakes or otherwise annoy the living daylights out of you

  • they’re basically idiots

  • their goal in life is to disappoint you

“Oh, my,” we hear you thinking, “this explains everything!” Yes, yes it does, and once you embrace these blissful assumptions, you’re ready to hit the ground running.

Threats Work Best!

Did someone make a mistake? Of course they did! Threaten them with grotesque and disruptive consequences, or threaten them with subtle, sweetly whispered suggestions about their future employability. We don’t care which -- just threaten them! Scared, distracted people work harder and faster. We read it on the Internet, so it must be true.

Raising Your Voice Works Even Better!

Everyone knows the most powerful motivation in the world to grow and improve one’s performance is an angry, red-faced boss who could explode at any moment. Let them know how boiling mad you are, and so easily can become, and they’ll never, ever make another mistake.

Be Vague!

If you’re either happy or unhappy with their performance, don’t be too specific as to why. They can figure it out on their own. That’s what you pay them for. Also, be as vague as possible about your expectations, desired results, or areas for improvement. This is a great strategy for saving time in the future, as the people who work for you really should be able to read your mind, shouldn’t they? Hints, ambiguities, and even mumbles are an important part of their training. Get them started today!


Go ahead -- check your email, or take a phone call while giving someone feedback. It’s OK to make them wait. After all, you’re a busy, important person, and your direct reports should be grateful for the opportunity to be mentored by you.

Make It About You!

Having to give feedback has handed you a golden opportunity! Take the credit you deserve! If by some accident, someone who works for you did a good job, make sure they (and everyone else around) understand that it’s almost entirely due to your support, your vision, and your superior intelligence. They probably already know that, but it can’t hurt to remind them.

Feedback. Unless horribly misused by rotten leaders, it creates happy, independent employees who are great at solving problems, making money and changing the world.

You’ve been warned.

AuthorJoseph Fusco