What Should You Do if You Report to an “ASS Kicker”?…Forgive Them



There are various styles that leaders use to drive growth. Some unfortunately are less intentional and fall into a bullying and “ASS Kicking” mode. So what are you to do if you find yourself reporting to an ASS Kicker?….believe it or not you must forgive them.

In business, ..Heck,.. in life ,you will encounter all types of people. Some will stand out as mentors for you .My first job, right out of college was a route salesman for Frito-Lay. I see now I was blessed to have worked for an amazing mentor named Harry Jones. He was ; firm fair and consistent. He owned his areas of responsibility. When I made mistakes (often back then) he took the pressure from above and used the mistake as a teaching moment.

Unfortunately I have experienced many  leaders who lead by intimidation , bullying their teams and they frequently looked for : “What ASS to Kick” instead of the defining the nature of the problem that needs solved. They fail do the heavy lifting of finding market truths and they shoot from the hip and their gut.

I feel comfortable discussing “Ass Kickers” as regrettably this was my style early in my career. I drove  my teams through intimidation. Sure I mentally justified my actions with thoughts like;

They will thank me some day   ( none ever did)


It is the quickest route to the objective ( wrong, it often caused many other concerns)


People need to be driven  ( no, they need to be led, and leadership is difficult )


They know what needs to be done and are just not “ motivated” “accountable” ( wrong, in most cases my communication was poor and the team lacked a clear understanding of the objective and they did not have the tools to win)


The solution to the problem at hand is the only consideration. ( little or no consideration for the relationship with those involved, win battle lose war)

With  thoughts like above and others racing through their minds, leaders with a low emotional intelligence lead by “ASS Kicking”. Without a leadership filter that also considers the big picture, corporate values and the relationships with those involved they spew their  kicking , throat choking rhetoric.

Sadly, this behavior has a common root: Fear.

As I discussed in my post : Are You Looking For “An ASS To Kick”…” Throat to Choke” or a Solution to a Problem?… (There is a difference) leaders who use a bully approach are very afraid. In their fear they become frustrated, anxious, and more fearful the challenges they face will somehow tarnish their reputation and or political power.


So what do you do if you work for an Ass Kicking Boss?…..FORGIVE  THEM

What? Are you nuts? This guy (gal) treats me like crap and I am supposed to just forgive them?” ….Yes!

I heard once; anger and resentment are like acids that only damage the vessel that contains them.


If you hold on to the anger, hurt, and so on you feel from your throat choker it will hurt you physically, professionally ,emotionally, and financially.

So forgive them. The first reason to do so is it is Biblical. Finding faith , the truths in the Bible is what taught me the errors of my ways and empowers me to serve my teams today.Second , you must release the anger festering inside . ( I promise you your ASS Kicker has already forgotten what they said to you) Third, your inner anger and frustration , if left unchecked ,will bleed into your relationships with customers, and more important your loved ones.

“ASS Kickers” are not dumb people. Chances are they busted their ( you know what’s) back in the day, earned their bones on a daily basis. They are not happy people. My recommendation is to gather raw unfiltered data as fast as possible and present that data and ask them what they would do. You may need to also make sure, once you see the data , that you truly are doing the best job you could be doing. If not , admit it and commit to improve.

If you take my advice, gather data ( facts without judgments) see how the leader reacts….

If they roll up their sleeves and offer to help, hang in there.

If they blow up again, and actually make the problem worse…leave.

Good value adding employees do not need to put up with an abusive boss.

You are not trapped in this job.

You are not a slave, owned by this employer.

Yes it is frightening when you mentally commit to leave, however you will also gain peace as you can tolerate the abusive boss while you know there is light ahead ….and it’s not a train.

There are many people who have written about abusive/ bad bosses and below are some links if you want to hear other’s views;

What To Do When Your Boss Is A Jerk


If Your Boss is a Jerk, Don’t be a Willing Victim 


When you work for a Bully 


How to Handle a Bullying Boss


How to Deal With Bully Bosses


Tactics Of A Workplace Serial Bully Boss


Bad Boss-Health This Week with Don Baillargeon  ( you tube)  


Fox News – Dealing with a Bad Boss – Joe Takash ( you tube)



So if you work for an ASS Kicking boss…forgive them and remember you are in control of how you feel.


You can choose to become angry and bitter and lose yourself in self-pity, or you can choose to forgive them and release that internal acid.


You are in control as you can also leave and add value somewhere else.


 I Attended an awesome seminar years ago by the Covey institute and I think it was called the Power Principle. simply stated;

“you are not free to stay….until you are free to walk away”


Market leaders know that Goals should not be a “Shell Game”


Market leading teams understand the importance of clear, measureable goals.

Market losers set loose goals and objectives that change like a shell game, as their mood and business climate changes…this is the quickest way to demoralize a team, lose shareholder value and key contributors.

shell game

Market leading teams understand the importance of clear, measureable goals.

Market losers set loose goals and objectives that change like a shell game, as their mood and business climate changes…this is the quickest way to demoralize a team, lose shareholder value and key contributors.

Goals that are not written down are just dreams.

So how do we set goals that motivate, drive growth, but do not feel unrealistic?

What I have always done is build goals from the market up as opposed to from the ivory tower down.

I recommend you segment your market into regions, and then keep peeling the onion until you are down to current and targeted new customers and then products and services.

You must spend time living in your market gaining current information to set achievable goals that drive profitable growth and add value.

From real market knowledge I then recommend building sales playbooks by team member. This is a collaborative effort with the team members who will execute the plan and are closest to the market. We identify sales goals for specific current customers and products .We spend time developing strategy upfront with tactics and key initiatives to achieve our goals.

Where market losers consistently fail is spending too much time deep in the weeds of tactics with little if any time upfront in strategy.

Then we identify new accounts we would like to sell and again assign a goal and develop strategies and tactics to open the targeted new accounts. Next we take the data and goals by product, by customer, and targeted new customer, and new products, and we now build a goal as well as a stretch goal.

The goal becomes our mission; it is what we will be talking about for the next year. The goal aligns us as well as other cross functional team members helping us clearly understand what we are setting out to accomplish.

A stretch goal is always developed to insure the goal is achieved. You are paid on the goal, and if you achieve stretch goal objectives above and beyond your goal you realize a compensation multiplier. Stretch goals become your contingency plan. Stretch goals give you the wiggle room for when things go bump in the night.

What do they say…? “Colonel Custer had a plan”…or “the best laid plans of mice and men”….and they are right. No matter how well we gather market data, “things” happen. Markets change, accounts get acquired, planned product launches are often late, and competitors also are executing their plans.

Having a stretch goal helps us” shoot for the moon and worst case we still end up a star”.

When a change occurs we go back to the original goal and review the specific strategies and tactics. If a key account was acquired or closed, we go back to our stretch goals and change the weighting of those stretch objectives. We ask ourselves…” OK, based on what we now know, we need to make up the shortfall . Of our stretch goals, which have the highest probability to make up the delta to goal? What do we need to do? What do we need to ask of others?

In Market leading teams everyone is a member of “the team” and everyone rallies around the goal, and are aligned with a singular purpose of the team’s definition of a win.

Market leaders know cross functional goals tear down dysfunctional silos and make mighty market leading teams.

Market losers play a shell game with their goals.

They have a “goal of the day” and their teams set out to take the hill. Their teams work diligently against difficult odds and often achieve the goal only to find out the goal changed. In this environment, you must be more skilled at watching the shell game masters hands and follow the goal more than the strategy and tactics to achieve the goal itself.

Market losers observe the goal building process (if they allow you to build it from the market up) and “bet the farm” on the stretch goals.

They need all the stars to align perfectly and although your team will achieve the 20% growth goal, and the corresponding increase in shareholder value, your CEO makes you feel like losers because you failed to hit the stretch goal he told the board ( and often the bank to justify additional capital) we would achieve.

Market losers build goals based on the ROI to justify the investment.

They create a number to make the board and investors happy then they slice this home grown goal and distribute the unrealistic slices to each team member. When team members challenge these goals from mount high they are disciplined and told to “make it happen”. If you challenge how the goals were developed you are often left feeling like you are not being a “team guy” and your questions are signs of disloyalty.

Market losers change the goal when they are not achieving it.

For example I hear some entrepreneurs bragging they are not;” losing as much business as others in their market” versus reporting their performance to plan.

Market leaders set aggressive goals and establish stretch goals as contingencies to insure they: do what they say they would do.

Boards, investors, and owners respect teams that do what they say they will do. Investors gain confidence and are more willing to make additional investments in the future.

How about your organization…..

Is your organization a Market Leader?

Is your organization a Market Loser? Why?

Who sets goals in your organization?

Are the goals fixed or are they a shell game?

Do you know your goals? If you are not sure…how does that make you feel?

What kind of company would you prefer to serve…one that sets aggressive market built goals or one that promises the bank and board numbers and then throws goal slices over the wall and tell you to “Make it Happen”?

Is your business bleeding?… Three back to basics triage steps to stop the bleeding


If your revenues are off as of late you are not alone. However knowing others are struggling does not help you know where to make adjustments to achieve your corporate objectives, or for smaller companies to help you make payroll. I call this looking for the real “why.” Once you determine the true “why(s)” you can make strategic corrections and adjustments to correct your business.So what should you do if your business is bleeding today? It may feel like death by a thousand cuts, but I can assure you it is always one of three ailments.

Over the years, when your business was booming you really did not need to be that good. I know that disturbs some people, but the tendency for some is to have taken a position of; “do I know where the business is coming from and why people buy from me? ..Why should I care as long as it keeps coming in?” (as described by one of my customers years ago.) Well, now is the time they are caring.

There are three back to basics business triage reviews I  always asses. If you are not achieving your revenue targets your business is bleeding in one, or a combination of the below;


1. Product


2. The market


3. Your team




Do you have a product problem? What problem does your product solve? How well does it solve this problem? What have your customers been saying lately? Is your product the perfect solution for an unresolved market problem?



Do you have a market problem? Do you have a market or solution for one customer? How pervasive is the problem you solve in your market? What new conditions has your market experienced? Has your market experienced any new market dynamics like new competitors, government regulations, environmental factors, technology changes? Does your market feel the problem you solve is urgent? Does your market have the ability to pay for your solution? ( a word of caution, too quickly leaders determine they are bleeding due to a market problem, be careful)


Your team

If your product is a perfect solution (determined by the market) and the market is urgently looking for someone to solve their problem with cash in hand, then your problem is your team. This is one of the most difficult areas to adjust. The quickest indicator I look for is how market driven your team is overall. How focused and passionate are they to serving the market? Does your team possess the skill set required for the market of today? As is often the case some team members provided tremendous value in the past, but now lack the experience or training to meet the market needs of today. In a Fortune article recently it discussed how market leading companies are always training their team members in good times and bad.

Here’s a shocker for some CEO’s …you are a part of the team too!

If you have a product that perfectly solves and unresolved market problem, and a market that desires to pay someone to solve the problem your product solves, and you have an amazing team….then the problem may be you. Ouch!..that hurts , how do you know if you are the problem? You need to ask yourself some tough questions;

How well does your experience and training match the needs of your team and your market?

What area do you feel is your strength?

What area is your weakness?

What skill does your business need today?

What steps have you taken, and or are you taking to offset your weakness and or the needs of your business?

leaders know their strengths and humbly admit their weaknesses. Top leaders are committed to continuously improving their abilities to better serve their internal and external customers. This is accomplished through growing our abilities and balancing our teams with leaders who compliment our weaknesses.

It’s time you go back to basics and perform honest triage if you find your business bleeding.