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With a bad boss, there are no good jobs

Dear J.T. & Dale: My superior doesn’t seem to respect his subordinates and doesn’t practice EQ on us. May I know if there are any tips for dealing with such superiors? – Tara

DALE: I haven’t been hearing “EQ” lately, so we ought to do a quick review. Emotional intelligence (EQ or sometimes EI) was popularized back in ’95 with a book by that name, written by Daniel Goleman. One edition claimed that the book “redefines what it means to be smart,” the big idea being that traits like self-discipline and empathy matter as much or more than the sort of brainpower measured by IQ. Plus, let’s face it, “emotional intelligence” sounds so much more scholarly than “street smart” or “people smart.”

J.T.: While EQ entered the vocabulary, it did not enter many lists of job requirements. There are plenty of managers who (a) don’t know what it is, and (b) don’t care about using it. There isn’t much you can do to get your boss to change. He’d have to see value in switching his leadership style to one that is more supportive and serving of the staff. If he doesn’t see his leadership style as a problem, he’s unlikely to change it. My advice is to either accept his style while reminding yourself daily about all the other aspects of the job you enjoy or, if you can’t do that, then my advice is to leave. Staying in a job where you feel the leadership style is toxic is not good for your health.

DALE: Here’s one of my favorite workplace principles: With a bad boss there are no good jobs, and with a good boss there are no bad jobs. Management is that important. Yet most people have never experienced a great boss, so they don’t know what one looks like. Going forward, instead of searching for a new job, begin your research by asking people you admire about the best managers they’ve worked with. It will help to set your expectations and might just lead to introductions to the sort of leaders who accelerate development by raising the standards of everyone around them, eventually awakening you to the wisdom of that marvelous line from Billie Jean King, “Pressure is a privilege.”

Dear J.T. & Dale: I’m a successful executive with 20-plus years of leadership experience. I lost my job a year ago and assumed it wouldn’t be tough to find a new one. I was so wrong. I’ve sent out well over 100 resumes and have had a miserable four interviews. They all told me I was overqualified just 20 minutes into the meeting and ushered me out the door. Why bring me in at all if I’m overqualified? – Richard

J.T.: First, I’d tell you that a big part of the problem is sending out resumes online. Studies show less than 3 percent of people who apply online get a call. That’s because the online applicant tracking systems are designed to screen you out. Right now, 80 percent of all jobs are being gotten via referral. So I’d double down on your networking. As for the interviews, it does concern me that all four had you out the door so quickly, saying you were overqualified. As you pointed out, they could have assessed that on the resume, which makes me think it was your approach to the interview that might have been a turn-off. I see a lot of seasoned executives go into interviews with a know-it-all attitude. In an attempt to showcase their depth of knowledge and experience, they come across as opinionated and uncompromising. I’d suggest seeking some help on how to interview in a way that showcases your ability to be collaborative, flexible and still willing to learn and grow.

DALE: Yes, getting the bum’s rush four out of four times is telling you that your interview technique needs work. So ask a bluntly honest colleague or two to do mock interviews. Meanwhile, the best antidote to coming across as a know-it-all is to come with questions. Put “JT O’Donnell interview questions” into the YouTube search box and you’ll find plenty of options.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab. Please visit them at, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Fl, New York, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2019 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.