“The term ‘disrupter’ has become sexy—a résumé-boosting point,” says Nancy Halpern, a New York leadership-development consultant. The flip side may not be so pretty when you have a disruptive boss that shoves aside collaboration, does not take well to criticism and imposes crazy, pressure-filled deadlines on their staff.
Michelle Quinn Smith, a senior director of human resources for a Cambridge, Mass, scientific venture-capital firm, recalls one supervisor she worked for in the past at a biotech firm. While the supervisor had a very strong competitive streak, she did not overburden her staff and remained an inspiration. “I remember her saying, ‘I’m not successful unless everyone on my team is successful,’” Smith says.
When Smith worked for another supervisor with the same competitive nature, she had to deal with someone who did not like anyone challenging her decisions. Smith had asked the supervisor to explain a decision she made only to have the supervisor shun Smith and refuse to speak with her for a long time. “It was as if there was an invisible force field around her,” Smith says. “If you bumped into it, you’d say, ‘Oh, that was painful. I didn’t see that coming.’”