Boss Complex

Boss Complex

I'd just gotten my first traffic ticket in more than 5 years.

The police officer asked me if I knew why he pulled me over. I had no idea.

“You rolled through that stop sign back there without stopping.”

“Hmmm. I did? I didn't even see it.”

“You didn't see it?”

“I probably should have. I've taken that corner more than a thousand times. But no ... I didn't.”

He gave me my ticket and I moved on with self-pity and self-righteousness (“Doesn't he have more important things to do with his time and our tax dollars than grabbing people running stop signs in suburbia?” “Great! A $100 trip to the grocery store.” etc.).

Traffic Ticket

Over the next 24 hours, I caught myself running or almost running a stop sign more than 10 times. (Really!) 

No tickets, no feedback for more than 5 years and I'd become invincible. I did no wrong. King of the streets (as much as a mid-lifer in suburbia can be king of the streets). I'd become dangerous.

It got me thinking about something I call The Boss Complex... something that can happen to people in leadership positions. I've had it (and still do at times), met people with it, and know people who've had it (and still have it). 

We push things. Fail. Succeed. We become confident ... then maybe a little too confident. We start to know a lot ... maybe everything ... becoming less approachable ... less inviting... creating situations where people are afraid to tell us the truth... uncoachable (check here to be sure you're coachable).

Feedback slows (or stops). Our self-awareness slips. Bad habits settle in. We drain others and get in the way of good things happening. We become dangerous.

And it can happen to anyone ... leader or not.

My $96 ticket ... a nice little coaching session where no one got hurt. It reminded me of my responsibility to others (on the street and at work). It reminded me to model the behavior I want to see (for other drivers and for my kids ... Lead Simply, right?).

And, if just 10% of the people reading this are a little safer on the road (and/ or lose their Boss Complex), that's a lot of good coming from those tax dollars being spent on a police officer grabbing some guy running a stop sign in suburbia.


  1. I run fairly regularly. Too many times I've come up to a street corner where a driver rolling through a stop sign would've taken me out if I wasn't paying attention (the driver looks left for cars but not right for people ... texting drivers too). I've also been on the driver's side... lucky a runner (or another car) was paying attention when I wasn't. A good reminder to pay attention either way and give people the break we want to be given (to Love Your People).
  2. How do you solve a problem like The Boss Complex? (♫ How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? ♫) You help people Lead Simply and Smile & Move. And you do it every day. (Every. Day.)

© 2017

More blog posts ›