I’ve worked at startups where we had to bust ass to get things done… mid-90s… sleeping at the office, going weeks without a paycheck to get the product to launch, living off Jolt and pizza — and trying to build something that we honestly weren’t sure could be built. And even if the work wasn’t always done the exact way I would have suggested or agreed with, if I had a boss that took 5 minutes to explain why we were doing it… it was fine. No stress, just get it done.
I’ve worked at places that didn’t require anywhere near that level of focus or time commitment that left me feeling just drained and miserable. Miserable to the point of wanting to pack it up and never see a computer again. Miserable to the point of acting out… little self-destructive things like sending snarky emails, calling in sick to play hooky, or indulging in office gossip. All because I had a boss who just demanded I do things without giving any reason, or who wasn’t consistent with their stories.
Now I know enough, years of therapy / career coaching… and just age… when I see someone in a leadership position who just says, "Do what I say…" I start shopping for a new job. Or if they pull any manipulation crap like, "Sally and Mike know about X, but John thinks it’s Y, and Sally can’t know that Mike knows…" Or just simple lying… if they tell you something different than they tell anyone else. Life’s too short to deal with those people.
Transparency, integrity, honesty… without those things in a boss, it doesn’t matter how much work there is to do — it’ll be very stressful. It took me 10+ years to really nail down why I was successful at some jobs and not at others… for me, it all came down to the sort of boss I had. Didn’t have much to do with me liking the person (or the scope of the work), or vise versa, as long as they weren’t Machiavellian we could work well together.